DePauw University day of inclusion not seen as comprehensive

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DePauw students fill Neal Fieldhouse before DePauw Dialogue.
Many seats were empty after a break for lunch.
SAM CARAVANA/THE DEPAUW

​DePauw University cancelled classes and suspended business Wednesday for an institution-wide discussion of diversity and social unrest on the campus. However, not every member of the community attended.

A few mailroom and facilities management employees performed their normal jobs to keep the necessary parts of the university running.

“This is the mailroom’s busiest time because there are textbooks coming in,” said Amy Haug, human resources director and a member of the Diversity and Equity Committee, which helped plan the day.

Anyone working outside the University’s regular 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift was not included.

People employed by outside companies such as Bon Appetit and Follett did not attend.

“[They] weren’t included because they are not DePauw University employees,” said Haug.

Social unrest was rekindled last semester when senior Jonathan Reyes sent out an email titled “Here Comes Trouble” to some members of the community that described an incident between himself, some of his fraternity brothers and Bon Appetit staff in The Hub, the main dining facility. On Nov. 19, the faculty voted to suspend classes and hold a discussion day.

Jason Rose, general manager for Bon Appetit at DePauw, could not be reached for comment by publication time.

Initially, “DePauw Dialogue” was mandatory for students. According to an email from Christopher Wells, vice president for student life, stated, “students who do not attend on the 28th will not be able to register for fall classes or walk at commencement until they have attended these sessions.”

“We gave it serious thought, but I have to say we decided pretty quickly that it should be mandatory,” said Carrie Klaus, dean of faculty and one of the administrators charged with planning the day.

That changed when some faculty members brought up concerns that DePauw Dialogue had become a new graduation requirement that the faculty had not voted into effect. Without required attendance, some students opted out.

“I didn’t go because I was led to believe, from an email I sent to Christopher Wells, that the day would only be about racial inclusion,” said sophomore Sarah Proctor. “It’s not that I don’t believe that the day is a good idea. I just think to have a true day of inclusion you have to include all minority groups on campus, not just the ones who are the loudest or the biggest.”

Proctor said as a demisexual, Catholic woman from a lower socioeconomic class she represents four minorities on DePauw’s campus, none of which she felt were adequately addressed during DePauw Dialogue.

“I was told that other things [besides multicultural issues] might be brought up if someone asked about them specifically,” Proctor said. “It was basically being told that the multicultural community is important enough to get a whole day and that other groups are only an afterthought.”

One of the speakers, Derald Sue, a psychology and education professor at Columbia University and a pioneer in multicultural psychology, touched briefly on other marginalized groups in his speech about microaggressions, or unintentional acts that tell members of minorities they are “other.” His presentation, however, had a racial theme.

Enough people to fill the bleachers on the north end of Neal Fieldhouse did attend all or part of the day. Student Body President Cody Watson said there were about 2,000 people present in the morning and about 1,500 after lunch.

First-year woman of color Diamond McDonald attended and felt the conversations went well, but she still wants more. She would like to see a day like DePauw Dialogue become annual, mandatory and expanded to cover all minority groups.

“I feel as if my life isn’t just a day,” McDonald said. “These are things I deal with everyday.”