On Wednesday, April 14, the CLA Student Government and the Race and Racial Justice Committee hosted a community meeting on issues in the Drew community. The meeting addressed the demands raised by the collective letter to the Drew administration.
The collective letter has four sections: academics, student engagement and activities, representation, and administrative duties. Students, alumni, and faculty compiled a list of demands which they feel would benefit our campus community.
The collective letter brought forth the requirement for every student, staff member, faculty member, and administrator to complete comprehensive cultural competency and anti-racism training, the reestablishment of the Pan-African studies for students to learn about Black history in college and for professors to reevaluate their syllabi to make it more diverse. The administration is working to create a more inclusive classroom environment by educating faculty and staff and holding required training for all individuals. Dean Hinrichs stated that the Pan-African studies department is in the process of hiring a new Pan-African studies professor and that there are robust options of Pan-African courses for the fall 2021 semester.
Student engagement also spoke on behalf of the student committees and how the structure of these committees hopes to promote a welcoming environment. Dean Brisson of student engagement stated “we do want to partner more and make sure that our programs are aligned with more of the students interests.” Dean Brisson shared how important it is to celebrate different aspects of self-identity. She said, “we look to also make sure we are addressing hot topics that are affecting the Black and Brown communities.”
Vice President of Campus Life and Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Frank Merckx, believes that there have been positive steps made toward hiring employees on campus of diverse backgrounds. Merckx said, “We have obviously hired people that are racially diverse in those areas [higher positions] and that is something that I think is a significant positive for us institutionally in a broad way, but also for our students.”
Provost Lakin added that the university is committed to hiring diverse individuals at the highest levels of decision making. Provost Lakin said, “we post our positions and advertise to make sure that those jobs are being reflected to a wider audience and also to send the message that we are interested and definitely committed to making sure that we have a diverse pool of candidates for our positions.”
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