The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Community asks tough questions at forum with Diversity Plan Committee

On Oct. 29, the co-chairs of the Diversity Plan Committee held an open forum to air the grievances and suggestions of community members deeply involved with diversity.

It recently became known that the Diversity Plan would not meet its intended deadline of 2015, but the committee hopes their work will continue beyond that date.

The central questions of the forum were about accomplishments Guilford College can celebrate, areas that are still incomplete and additional work needed to create a multicultural and anti-racist college environment. The majority of the conversation focused on what is lacking in the Guilford community.

“We have a lot of refugee students coming in, and they don’t seem to be receiving proper support,” said Andrew Young, volunteer training coordinator at the Bonner Center. “These kids need more reading and writing help, and if they are only able to get into the Learning Commons twice a week, that’s inadequate.”

Melissa Frink, director of the Learning Commons, supported this opinion and identified a lack of resources as part of the problem.

“I think we’re at a place where we need to decide who we are as a community,” said Frink. “(If) we’re handing students the promise of an education here, (and)it is on us to put in place those necessary supports, and the supports we already have are stretched to their natural limits. We’re at the total point of saturation.”

José Oliva, sophomore Senate president and project coordinator at the Bonner Center, noted the personal difficulties of being an international student at Guilford and the lack of diverse faculty.

“Guilford is moving forward into diversity, and we need to start changing our services,” said Oliva. “I started looking for Latino faculty on campus and didn’t find any, and that’s just sad. Latino students coming to Guilford are going to feel disconnected. A lot of Latino students I know are dealing with depression and with trauma and having that diverse staff could make the difference.”

Emily Lott, assistant director for student leadership and engagement, noted the importance of inclusion.

“Going forward, I’d like us to think of inclusion as something integral to excellence … not just this add-on thing,” said Lott. “We really need to start thinking about whose voice is not being heard. I think that it is an asset of who we are and encompasses a lot of those core values we talk about all the time. If we could really lift inclusion up structurally it could make a lot of difference.”

Not many solutions were offered, but Rick Williams, human resources director, suggested that tough decisions be made.

“Change is the big thing,” said Williams. “We, as an organization, need to be as adaptable and respectful as we can be. We need faculty and students that allow us to grow intellectually and culturally. That’s going to lead us to some clearly petrifying decisions, snapping us out of doing things a certain way or cutting programs that maybe we don’t need anymore. That’s where the money will come from.”

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