2 steps back for diversity inclusion at SU
Updated: Nov 8, 2020
On Oct. 27, Salisbury University faculty failed to make quorum by being present at an all faculty vote on advancing a diversity and inclusion general education requirement.
This is what I believe to be one of the most pivotal moments in our university’s history, as only 48% of the faculty participated in the Zoom meeting’s virtual vote Tuesday, Oct. 27th at 3:30 p.m.
This is after the original motion, brought forth by Dr. April Logan, was tabled, discarded and ultimately failed within the faculty senate.
This motion was designed to begin the process of allowing an all faculty vote for a diversity and inclusion general education requirement.
A faculty led petition had pressured the Salisbury University Faculty Senate to bring back the motion to start plans for a separate yet required diversity and inclusion general education requirement.
However, as I stated earlier, this revised motion did not pass, as more than half of SU’s faculty body was absent during the virtual referendum, which prevented them from meeting quorum.
How will the proposal for general education reform be adjusted and enforced if faculty won’t even show up to help bring these needed changes?
What’s even more shocking is the lack of communication between the faculty leadership and SU students.
Faculty senate leaders have yet to notify the campus community on what’s transpired with the diversity and inclusion general education requirement.
Although the provost mentioned this at the September diversity town hall, the lack of initiative from the faculty senate has illustrated a theme of not desiring a separate yet required diversity and inclusion general education requirement.
Even as this motion was on the floor of the Faculty Senate, there were no known attempts by the Faculty Senate leadership to announce this motion and its fate to the entire campus community.
It becomes more and more evident that diversity and inclusion is not desired in the classroom.
As a student at Salisbury University, the word disappointed becomes more and more euphemistic due to the institution's lack of initiative and action.
Even after a series of vandalisms that has claimed to ‘"reflect the love and support at SU from the community," we have yet to see any conscious changes at SU, even with the hiring of Chief Diversity Officer Joan Williams.
In fact, it seems we’ve moved backwards instead of forwards.
As previously stated, I believe communication could be much improved between students and other campus governance.
SU students have lost Diversity and Inclusion Specialist Annette Johnson due to claims of COVID-19-related budgetary cuts.
To better understand these COVID-19-related budget cuts, I personally requested the budget expenditures to see where the money for Multicultural Student Services and Cultural Affairs was going this year.
This information was requested verbally in several joint meetings as well as through two emails sent Oct. 5 at 1:57 p.m. and a follow-up Oct. 23 at 1:54 p.m.
After having sent multiple emails in addition to multiple verbal conversations, I ultimately filed a Maryland Public Information Act, which legally requests public documents.
Williams later responded Nov. 2 in an email, stating she was aware of the PIA request; she ultimately referred me to answers within the PIA request, which I have yet to receive.
This is an example of a lack of communication and accountability which, unfortunately, we’ve seen before.
In addition to communication, the removal of staff positions due to various reasons has been problematic as well.
The position of Multicultural Student Services director, which leads the office to help marginalized students thrive as students at SU, has not been fulfilled, which consequently hinders the SU community’s ability to meet the objectives of an inclusive campus community.
The reason for this?
The CDO has provided various answers, ranging from waiting to hear from the student community to waiting for the release of the campus climate study.
Ultimately, the CDO confirmed at the Sept. 23 town hall that the position was cut alongside the director of Cultural Affairs.
Additionally, the tasks of the director of Multicultural Student Services will be placed on the program coordinator of Multicultural Student Services, which seems problematic, as one person is doing the job of two.
Despite SU students’ desire to have Mr. Richard Potter, program coordinator of Multicultural Student Services, be appointed as the interim director of Multicultural Student Services due to his hard work and determination, it appears to be dismissed by the CDO.
With all these moving parts, one thing is clear — Salisbury University is not consciously trying to promote diversity and inclusion.
By DORIEN ROGERS
Featured image by Ben Lausch.