By IVY BECKENHOLDT
In order to inform the Drake community of future plans regarding campus equity and inclusion, Associate Provost for Campus Equity and Inclusion Erin Lain and Assistant Dean of Students Tony Tyler held the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Forum on Feb. 28. According to Tyler, this forum would address the increase of hate incidents at Drake since 2016.
Lain and Tyler discussed the goal of bringing the equity and inclusion efforts up to speed with other higher education institutions.
In order to do so, Lain and Tyler proposed several future initiatives that would expand academic and financial supports for students of color.
The forum shared a plan to increase funding for the Crew Scholars Program and the Flight Program. These programs aim to support students of color success, and enable these students’ work to effect change in the community.
The forum also discussed devoting funds to renovating the multicultural homes on Drake’s campus. Lain said that these homes deserve to be up to par to the Alumni House at Drake.
With the intent on creating a more inclusive environment among first-year students, there will also be a required Haven training on equity and inclusion for all incoming students. The development of restorative justice and mediation programs for students was also discussed by Tyler.
In order to increase diversity among faculty and staff, Lain also proposed the development of a new faculty pipeline in collaboration with minority-majority PHD programs.
“You can’t just hope for a diverse pool of applicants,” Lain said.
Currently, Drake’s faculty is 87 percent white and the student population is 81 percent white, with 6 percent Hispanic, 5 percent Black and 5 percent Asian students. These statistics and more will be showcased on the soon-to-be-public Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website. This website will also include ways to become involved, upcoming initiatives and programs and Drake’s history. The history tab will include a timeline of Drake’s past regarding the progression to increased diversity.
“In order for us to make progress, we have to know where we come from,” Lain said.
Lain and Tyler also informed the audience of the former initiatives put through. According to Lain and Tyler’s presentation, they helped to develop a “hate incident response plan in conjunction with Unity Roundtable to inform impacted groups of hate incidents on campus.”
The CORE pipeline program has also been in place with Des Moines public schools. This program helped to encourage public school students of color to attend Drake.
The presentation also stated that there was also a requirement for all “who serve on faculty hiring committees to complete an implicit bias training.”
Following this presentation, a student brought up the question of what is being done regarding certain professors using the n-word. Lain stated that when one reports this to her, she has a conversation with that professor and provides alternatives to that word.
“I have to hear about it in order to have that conversation,” Lain said.
In response, Assistant Director of New Student Programs Brandi Miller said that the use of the n-word by anyone is not acceptable and expressed that more action needs to be taken.
Tyler responded in support of Miller stating, “Until every one of us has the same reaction that Brandi just had, it’s still going to happen.”
In order to protest the use of derogatory terms, a poster was put up in Meredith with signatures of students and faculty who vowed not to say these words.
Photo by Kim Bates