Earlier this month, the Academic Senate approved on the Diversity Action Plan, which seeks to add more emphasis on diversity at Stan State.
With the college’s continuous goal of promoting more diversity on campus, a Diversity Action Plan was developed and proposed by the President's Commission on Diversity & Inclusion (PCDI) in order to provide more guidelines into how more diversity can be implemented on campus.
The three leaders of the PCDI are Dr. Kilolo Brodie, a professor in the Masters of Social Work Program and Chair of the committee, Dr. Daniel Soodjinda, a Liberal Studies professor and Vice Chair of the committee, and Neisha Rhodes, the Director for Presidential Initiatives and Presidential Liaison for the committee.
In a joint response, Dr. Brodie, Dr. Soodjinda, and Rhodes pointed to a phrase in the introduction, "cultivate, advance, and maintain a diverse and inclusive campus,” as the main representation for the plan’s purpose. They said, “It does so by establishing a set of tasks that are guided by the Campus Diversity Statement, and the four pillars of diversity and inclusion which ground our efforts. The four pillars are campus climate, curriculum and programming, recruitment and retention, and community partnerships.”
They also added, “Historically, universities across the country have been challenged with policies, practices, and events that are impacted by racism, discrimination, and white supremacy, and our campus is included. We are also constantly reflecting on how best we can ensure that all campus community members are visible, valued, and heard. The Diversity Action Plan draws attention to the aforementioned areas, and demonstrates our commitment to a nurturing, safe, and critically reflective learning community.”
The plan was worked on for about 5 years before being approved in the Academic Senate. The process started with the Stan State’s Campus Statement on Diversity, then it expanded to writing the plan and its components. After writing the draft, the committee asked for feedback from the departments, faculty, staff, administrators, students, and the academic senate on campus. Finally, they edited the draft of the plan based on the feedback.
Dr. Ann Strahm, the Department Chair of the Sociology Department, expressed gratitude for the plan and said, “I believe it will go a long way to guide departments and administration in our on-going efforts to diversify our faculty, staff, and administrators so that they/we begin to look more like the broader society and our local community. I see this as a living document that should be revisited every couple of years so that we can shift and adjust priorities and actions as our university community changes.”
In the Academic Senate meeting on March 12th, 2019, Dr. Strahm spoked up in support of the plan and said there was "an opportunity for accountability" that the plan promoted among faculty and departments.
Dr. Strahm clarified that her statement was about faculty and staff actually reflecting on the way they operate on campus as opposed to only voting on it and never referring back to it. Dr. Strahm said, “Through that reflection, we can continuously improve the things we do as we progress. Our faculty senate approval of the diversity plan reflects that we intend to hold ourselves – and each other – accountable to the values we share.”
Strahm’s viewpoints are shared by other professors as well, including Dr. Chris Nagel, a philosophy professor and the moderator for the academic senate. Dr. Nagel described the plan as “ambitious” and said, “It seeks to hold us all accountable for a commitment to value diversity and help diverse people and communities reach their goals.”
Dr. Nagel added the importance of diversity with working at the college. Dr. Nagel said, “Working with diverse students should change at least some aspects of faculty work. To be effective educators, we have to understand who our students are and how they study. The biggest challenge is that almost all of us are overworked. We need the commitment of public resources to be able to make the entire CSU truly the people’s university.”
The Diversity Action Plan seeks to promote the college’s vision for diversity and inclusion. The plan showcases Stan State’s continuous efforts to implement diversity on campus as well as identifying diversity as one of the college’s main priorities.