Faculty of color discuss inequality in universities
Destene Savariau – News Editor
Following the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department’s grand opening was a panel discussing the book “We’re Not Okay: Black Faculty Experiences and Higher Education Strategies”.
The panel was hosted by the editors of the book: Dr. Antija Allen and Justin Stewart.
The book and discussion revolved around people of color and the challenges they face in higher-education positions. Throughout the book, it details stories from actual people in the workplace alongside solutions anyone in the same predicament can use. The book also discussed ways to improve diversity in the workplace and on campus for students.
“As I have reflected, it is important to have a diverse faculty. You know, if we’re looking at the racial or gender or other categories, it is so important to have students be able to see themselves in their faculty because it affects their whole experience. And so having a diverse faculty and staff that students can see themselves in is a big part of what I feel is not only my mission but kind of committed to making sure that we continue to not only recruit but retain and promote a diverse faculty,” said Associate Professor of Social Work Dr. Steven Hoffler.
The hosts of the discussion then turned the discussion of diversity as it applies to the university. They showed statistics from a study done on the university’s student population in 2020. 59% of students were White, 17% were Black, 13% were Hispanic, and 3% were Asian. Then the discussion was flipped on the audience on how we think the University should do to improve diversity to improve a diverse faculty.
“I think we’re making steps in doing that because we have the DEI team that’s becoming more and more active on campus and I think that’s all positive moves. I think it’s important that not only faculty have people that look like that but good for students as well. When they were talking about teachers that look like you or come from a similar cultural background. I think it’s important because right off the bat the things they said that I could instantly think of teachers that impacted me that looked like me, as well as teachers that you know, weren’t black or brown. I think a good teachers are just a good teacher, period. But I do think it’s important because you have something to aspire to.” said Associate Professor of Nursing Dr. Cheryl Green.
After the discussion, the editors and panelists left a piece of advice for the audience and those who couldn’t make it to the event.
“I think there’s a lot of vital information within “We’re Not Okay.” So of course, if you haven’t been able to pick up, please pick up the book. I know reading is one thing, but there’s a lot of things that can be done. So whether it’s spreading the message of the book, or whether it’s finding different strategies and implementing it into your own life, or about doing whatever you can do throughout this book to alleviate some of these challenges. Do whatever you can do; whether it’s within your group, whether within your executive leadership, senior leadership; wherever you can deal with, make sure that you’re able to make life easier for yourself,” said Stewart.
Dr. Allen also shared a key takeaway she wanted people to know from her discussion.
“Other than buying the book? Just you know, think about if you are someone who’s going through this, think about what the people around you can do better. You can be a changemaker and be a changemaker, if you can at least get into the ears of the change makers. And if you find yourself in a situation where it is a toxic environment, then it might be best,” said Dr. Allen.