A lull in conversation around campus climate

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As the 2015-2016 year kicks off, campus climate conversation has been quiet. There has been a noticeable lack of conversation surrounding campus climate from DePauw University’s faculty, staff, students and administration.        

Last year the university cancelled classes for one day in January to have a Day of Inclusion, also referred to as the DePauw Dialogue. Throughout the day there were group exercises to talk about campus climate and the opportunity for the DePauw community to reflect. 

Vince Greer, the director for Multicultural Student Services said, “I think it was a start. I think that was a monumental moment in our history,” he said. “It’s not everyday that the university shuts down and it cancels classes, particularly to talk about some important issues like this.”

Greer asserted that this was not enough and that the university can continue to build off of that. He believes inclusion day has set the tone for the type of university DePauw wants to be.

Greer is also working with the Diversity and Equity Committee on their one-year plan for this academic year along with their 2016-21 Campus Inclusion Plan. The Diversity and Equity Committee, lead by Renee Madison the senior advisor to the President for diversity and compliance, are conducting this plan.

This one-year plan is part of the DePauw’s five-year plan called the 2016-21 Campus Inclusion Plan that is still in the process of being discussed. However, the one-year plan is in motion right now.

The one-year plan is officially called ‘Building an Inclusive Community: DePauw University Campus Plan’, and was inspired by the DePauw Dialogue last year. Madison said that on the day of Inclusion they received information about what the committee could do and what conversations they needed to be having.

Some students feel that there is still a lot more to be done for DePauw to be fully diversified and inclusive. This includes students being more involved and caring more about campus climate. On the Day of Inclusion last year, a large amount of students either didn’t attend or left early the event early.

“With each change in activity you saw the number of people who were there dwindle a little bit more.” Said senior, Kate Porfilio, Restorative Justice Mediation co-president. “Most people stayed for the first half of the day but then once they got their pizza, they left,” she said.

Some students believe that Inclusion Day had a negative outcome.

“The day of inclusion, in my opinion, was a step backwards and for some students it was silence,” said sophomore Inés Giramata.

Giramata feels that the Day of Inclusion was meant to silence the students who felt discriminated on or passionate about diversity and inclusion by giving them a quick fix and ‘satisfy’ them so they wouldn’t ask more questions. She also felt the administration waited until the situation became extreme before taking action.

“DePauw is a small representation of what’s outside in the world and if we change what’s in here, we can be able to change the nation and the world at large,” Giramata said.

The diversity and equity committee is working to make those changes in the world one step at a time.

The Committee is going to put in effect ‘Building an Inclusive Community: DePauw University Campus Plan’, this academic year and continue working on the five-year Campus Inclusion Plan throughout the year.

The idea behind this one-year campus inclusion plan is to have different organizations work together on one big project with subprojects, as opposed to each group working on separate projects. The plan strives to provide a diverse learning and living community.

It will be implemented in five steps. The steps are; Fostering an Inclusive Campus Climate, Creating an Inclusive Community, Measurements and Outcomes, Institutionalize Initiatives, Sustaining Inclusion. The full plan can be found on the DePauw university website.