Hate crimes, fear, anger and uncertainty last spring, sparked the discussion of where we are as a University in regards to diversity – and where we should aim to be.
As we begin a new semester, it is important to continue having the conversations that began last semester.
A working knowledge of the concepts of diversity, cultural competency and inclusivity is still illusive to many on our campus, and transforming our curriculum to match these concepts is the larger task at hand.
Although some of the students directly affected by the hate crime climate may have left, the problem is still firmly grounded in our foundation and should not be ignored.
Students deserve to be informed regularly on new steps our administration are taking to make our University a more inclusive environment.
In order to move forward and ensure our climate is moving toward a more accepting and inclusive environment, transparency is a requirement.
Meaningful discussions that include student and faculty feedback in these transformational changes are a must.
After a year-long process, the La Verne community and the Board of Trustees approved a new pillar in the University’s strategic plan called ‘inclusive environment.’
In support of this pillar, a standalone Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office with a full-time chief diversity officer, who will report directly to the president and a full-time associate director is being established.
Along with this change, faculty and staff are newly required to take an online diversity training.
Although these are positive steps, meaningful long-term change will be an ongoing commitment to obtain substantive improvements.
It will require revisiting uncomfortable conversations and issues.
Substantive change and growth around diversity will be achieved by finding the correct resources and listening to students’ concerns to make the necessary institutional transformation.
It will require an investment by those who work for the University – first in understanding, and then incorporating meaningful institutional change.
Forgetting the pain felt by students last semester would hurt not only those of us who felt their pain and our own, it would put the University’s climate and future in jeopardy.