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CLC discusses diversity, inclusion

Carolyn Hutyra | Monday, October 29, 2012

Dr. G. David Moss, a senior consultant in the Office of Student Affairs, updated Campus Life Council at its Friday afternoon meeting on progress in the department.

Moss said there is currently confusion on how to report acts of discrimination on campus, and his office is working on a one-place stop to report issues of “harassment, discrimination, sexual violence, sexual assault [and] sexual misconduct.”

“We are hoping to have that in place this academic year,” he said.

The Office of Student Affairs highlighted diversity for staff this year, and the department required additional diversity training for hall staff and multicultural commissioners. Moss said the First Year of Studies office also used training videos for first-year faculty members.

“Iris [Outlaw, director of Multicultural Student Programs and Services] has created a video that we can use to facilitate discussion,” he said. “That will be the cornerstone of our work with residence halls and residence hall staff.”

The video, coupled with engaging conversation, is necessary to improve upon the University’s acceptance of diversity, Moss said.

“We want to celebrate diversity, [but] we don’t want to do it in such a way that it creates wedges between people,” Morrissey Manor rector Fr. Ron Vierling said. “I think we need to do a better job of preaching Catholic Social Justice based upon the first principle, which is human dignity.”

One way to build up human dignity is through the residence hall staff, Moss said. In order to accomplish this, Outlaw said the University should consider revamping its resident assistant selection process.

“Some institutions have a class that their [resident assistants] have to go through,” she said. “Four to five hundred students apply, but they have to go through a semester-long course or a six-week course.”

Such a class would help dissuade students from using the position as a resume builder, Outlaw said. Also, chosen resident assistants would form diversity programs during the class that they could implement in their dorms during the academic year.

Moss said the Student Affairs Office has already taken steps toward this goal, most recently by reviewing the websites of 70 departments and halls to make sure their online presences appear inclusive.

Moss is scheduled to attend an upcoming Undergraduate Studies council to discuss implementing a statement on all course syllabi that demonstrates the University’s commitment to diversity. The clause would read similar to the sentence, “This class values inclusivity and diversity.”

The office is also looking into the establishment of a new course, “Introduction to Cultural Competency,” that may be required for all incoming freshmen in the future, Moss said. The class is currently going through a pilot stage with nineteen freshmen.

Moss said he wants to create more interest on the topic, and his office is looking for any opportunities to help progress the message of diversity.