The Division of Inclusive Excellence event “Diversity Day Takeover,” an open-house discussion of the state of campus equity, took place in the Brower Student Center on Friday, Sept. 23.
President Kathryn Foster delivered a short address on the state of diversity on campus, recounting and decrying the events that had led to her decision to form the Division of Inclusive Excellence. She spoke at length of the racist incidents that happened her first semester here.
“[Now] we are on the right path,” Foster said. “And we are not going back.”
This sentiment was shared by many who have been at the College for a while, like African American studies professor Zakiya Adair.
“It’s a good thing that the College is naming Diversity and Inclusivity specifically,” Adair said. “It means that it’s more than just a slogan on a website for the College.”
Tia McNair, the vice president in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Student Success at the American Association of Colleges and Universities, took the stage with a touch a comedy. Her scene-setting remark about how eagerly she’d walk the perimeter of the auditorium set the tone for the serious address laden with light-hearted moments to follow.
McNair ensured her speech was more than a lecture for the room of educators. She always managed to weave a moment of laughter in between her most serious comments.
“No students actually read through the syllabus,” McNair said. After the audience was finished laughing, she continued, “You need to make sure the resources to help students aren’t buried in the syllabus.”
Among those who were laughing was Sarah Gonzalez, an English graduate student working with the Division of Inclusive Excellence to ensure the event went off without a hitch.
“I wish more students attended,” Gonzalez said. “I’m happy to see how many staff members showed up, though!”
McNair had said that she had seen many colleges claim to be moving towards equity and diversity only to stop far before any real change had occurred.
“In the past few years, we were adaptable because we had no choice,” McNair said. “When will we see equity as a matter of ‘no-choice’?”