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On diversity, work to do

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For years at the University of La Verne there has been evidence of inequality from administration and faculty.

The recent protests this semester by Decolonize ULV has brought issues of discrimination and microaggressions to the administration in an attempt to make positive and necessary changes for the University.

Protesting is not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary to facilitate change. The changes these students are demanding are doable and would help the relationships between students and faculty. The problems of inequality have been swept under the rug for far too long, and it is time for the University to takes steps to correct these longstanding issues and prevent them from persisting in future.

The first demand was that the provost, each presidential cabinet member, all deans and the president create curricular and co-curricular strategic plans that promote diversity and inclusivity in their departments on campus. One of the core beliefs in the University’s mission statement is diversity and inclusivity. As the University has grown, so has diversity on campus. The University of La Verne is recognized as a Hispanic serving institution. Being able to create an inviting culture in and out of the classroom can bring more and more people together, and if each department promoted these values, it would go a long way in changing the culture between students and staff.

Secondly, Decolonize ULV demanded a change in the faculty and employee handbook that addresses training in diversity, inclusion, neurodiversity, mental health, gender, disabilities, sexuality, socioeconomic status, to name a few, as appropriately directed by the chief diversity and inclusivity officer. This is important. The University can talk about promoting diversity and being inclusive, but making changes to the employee handbook that addresses these topics will hold employees more accountable than they have ever been and will help curb discrimination and microaggressions toward students.

Decolonize ULV also demanded that diversity competencies are enforced and are a part of all evaluative processes and any merit pay increases. If the University was serious about address the issues raised, they would take this demand into serious consideration. Evaluations should be an important determining factor in pay increases and promotions. Evaluations can give a good idea of not only how effective a professor is at teaching curriculum, but also an indication of classroom culture and temperature.

Also, Decolonize ULV demanded a change in what it describes as a Eurocentric and patriarchal curriculum to match the diverse backgrounds of students on campus. There should be an effort on the part of the professors to introduce the work of underrepresented groups and not just focus on European history and culture while excluding a wider view of the world.

Lastly, Decolonize ULV demanded that cultural competency, as listed above, be a part of the tenure evaluation process. If a professor has been found to be culturally insensitive or discriminatory toward students, then that should be a factor in the tenure process. Becoming a tenured professor is very difficult, but there are no excuses for this type of behavior toward students. Coming to school and paying to be belittled is not acceptable. The students who are protesting now are attempting to change a culture that has existed for a long time.

Hopefully the administration, faculty and staff are accepting of these demands because they will help the entire campus and create a better working enviornment for everyone who chooses to come here.

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