Administration makes progress with some demands, others still have progress to be made

It has been almost one year since a group of students gave the Call To Action document to University administrators to review their demands.

The document, which was sparked by a multitude of sensitive social justice incidents, listed five demands that students believed needed to be changed at the University. These demands varied from issues including the academic plan to the diversity among the administration, faculty and staff.

President Mary Ellen Mazey has not met with her administrators since they were given the document, Vice President of Student Affairs Jill Carr said.

“We have not had any roundtable session, but we probably should,” Mazey said.

Chief Equity and Diversity Officer Barbara Waddell and Carr have kept Mazey informed of the progress made.

In fact, one out of the five demands has been completed already said Carr.

“It felt really good just knowing that we have one fifth of it [CTA] done,” said sophomore Bryce Dotson, a member of the CTA group.

That demand, the fifth, called for the implementation of an action plan dealing with issues of hate and other social justices issues.

In that plan, the Office of Student Affairs is to call for an investigation immediately. The Undergraduate Student Government president, Graduate Student Senate president and the Office of Equity and Diversity are to release a statement together.

Though demand five was implemented, the administration has yet to finish the other four.

“I think there was definitely more progress than just demand five,” Carr said. “Some of the other ones are big and we know how slow things move at a University. They are still ongoing.”

Demand one calls for the University to create a multicultural/ethnic student center that promotes diversity education and inclusion on campus.

According to the document, “the center would be a safe space that would be a resource for underrepresented students and allies on campus, that want to learn more about diversity and to celebrate the diverse cultures we have currently.”

Although the building may take time to construct, the CTA group believes they may be able to get a temporary space while they and the administration work toward the building.

“With our current resource situation [building the center] is not likely to happen in the near future,” Carr said. “Unless somebody would donate money for that.”

Breanna Jones, a member of the Call To Action group, believes it will be about ten years before they get the building they are asking for.

“It looks like the University is not going to help us with the building,” Jones said. “It looks like we are going to have to get donations by ourselves.”

Demand number two is another one that will take time to accomplish. The demand asks the University to “increase the representation of marginalized communities within faculty, staff and the board of trustee membership.”

There are two people of color on the Board of Trustees. Trustees are selected by the governor of Ohio.

Although Board of Trustee membership may not change anytime soon, the President’s Cabinet could, as those members are chosen by the president. With the absence of Albert Colom from the University now, there are now two people of color out of 14 Cabinet members.

“I want to increase diversity on the Cabinet,” Mazey said. “As people leave I will look into adding more diversity to it.”

Before Colom’s departure, it was the first time the Cabinet had three “people of color” on the Cabinet in Waddell’s time, she said.

“There is no sense of tokenism on the Cabinet,” she said.

Carr has since added Sidney Childs to her Student Affairs Senior Leadership group, making him the second out of seven members of color in that group.

Demand two also called for a 10 percent increase of faculty and staff of color. That did not happen, which frustrated the group.

“It’s frustrating and it’s going to be a long road trying to get that,” Dotson said. “It’s going to be a couple years and it’s going to be a rocky road trying to get a solid increase.”

Kevin Lewis, former president of Black Student Union, said it is more than just a solid increase.

“It’s important to have representation in the sciences or people of color in all courses,” he said. “This University needs to be challenged in their commitment to representing and understanding why it’s important.”

Demand three is one that has seen mixed results. This demand asked the University to establish more cultural diversity education in the curriculum.

That demand is broken down to courses in the Cultural Diversity Perspective and sessions within Student Orientation, Advising and Registration.

Along with expanding the number of diversity courses within CDP, the group is trying to make it a requirement for all students in diversity classes to write a one page reflection paper.

“It’s one thing to learn about something; it’s another thing to actually experience it,” said Christina Steward, a member of the CTA group. Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Rodney Rogers was not available for comment.

Away from the academic side, the group wants to add required diversity programming to SOAR.

“We need to be realistic. I don’t want to set any expectation that we are going to have three hours of diversity training or whatever that might be,” said Jodi Webb, dean of students. “That’s not realistic given the current model we use. However, I think there are ways that we can begin to incorporate these topics.”

Webb is also one of the administrators who works with demand four, which calls for increased budget funds for minority student organizations.

The budgets for student organizations are divided by the student budget committee. There has been no increase because there are fewer dollars to give out, Carr said.

“We have hit a roadblock,” said Juan Pimiento, senior member of the CTA group. “It would not only affect multicultural organizations; it would affect any that receives funding. Right now we are trying to develop a plan as to how to better distribute funding. It’s a slow process and it’s going to take a lot of conversations.”

While conversations carry on for all five of the Call To Action demands, it does not end here for this group. They are continuing their work.

“I think the administration needs to be ready,” said senior Adriana Darris, a member of the CTA group. “Every year we have more and stronger students who are ready to take more action.”