As Student Government representatives, we are being asked now what we are doing to combat this climate of racism and intolerance. The answer is, quite honestly, not enough: we at GPSC recognize and share the frustrations of the students and as student government, we have a responsibility to engage with these issues.
Our taskforce on diversity and inclusion policy has been prevented from providing input on diversity policy. We have not seen any diversity policy emerge from the administration with exception of the attempt last semester by several faculty and staff to generate a “diversity plan,” without reaching out to those who would be most affected by it: the students.
Immediately upon receiving this preliminary diversity plan, we reached out to President Dunn to verify its authenticity and voice our displeasure at not being consulted in its drafting. It is our position that any plan to address issues of diversity and inclusion must include the voices of the students, not just the faculty. As a result of our concern, the plan was pulled and conversations to draft another have been limited, and perhaps forgotten, in light of other issues such as the budget crisis.
GPSC has representation on the Affirmative-Action Advisory Committee, a committee formed of faculty and staff which aims to advise the administration on issues of affirmative action as it affects the Carbondale campus. This committee has not met during the 2015-16 academic year, despite repeated requests by student government to convene the committee so that we can begin the hard work of dealing with these issues in a proactive way, as opposed to a reactive way. It is our position that the failure to convene this committee has directly contributed to the current campus climate.
In light of the steadily worsening climate of racism and intolerance on our campus, GPSC will do whatever is in our power to be proactive rather than reactive to these important issues. The time is now to engage the issues facing not just the Black students on our campus, but all of our diverse students and underrepresented groups.
Further, we demand that a diversity action plan committee be called, with the charge of drafting a campus wide diversity action plan, which must include the input of those most affected by the plan: the students. For the campus to go this long without a plan that enables the campus to address these issues as they arise, and take steps to prevent them, is inexcusable. In order to ensure the safety and security of all students, graduate, professional, and undergraduate, we call upon the administration, and ourselves, to take up this difficult task so that everyone will not only be accepted, but welcomed on campus.
Finally, as one constituency group that represents the student body, we invite you to make your voices heard make us accountable for where we have failed to address those issues closest to you. Student Government cannot function effectively without input from the students it represents, all of them, regardless of race, gender expression, sexuality, or ability status. We would therefore like to invite all students to attend our Town Hall meeting April 27th 5:30 p.m. in the John C. Guyon Auditorium to express your frustrations and work collaboratively with us to resolve this situation. We, your student government, can do better, and will do better.
We also call for everyone on May 2, whether you attend or teach classes, to wear a #noracism shirt, provided by GPSC, or a black shirt to let everyone know the Salukis will not stand for racism and intolerance on our campus. For safety purposes, and due to upcoming final exams there will BE no event attached to this call for action.