The diversity and inclusion task force began its work to make the university a more inclusive campus.
President Robert Henry created the task force after a photo surfaced last month on social media. In the photo, a student was dressed as Jay Z with her face painted black, a practice known as “blackface.” Blackface represents a time when white Americans would put dark paint on their faces and act out racist stereotypes.
Henry announced in an Oct. 8 email to the campus community the creation of a universitywide diversity and inclusion task force that includes administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
The task force is “responsible for creating academic programming for all university stakeholders to further the development of our campus cultural competence,” according to the email.
Henry was unavailable Monday for comment.
“He received about 90 responses from faculty, students and alumni who either volunteered or nominated someone,” said Joey Croslin, chief human resources officer and university compliance coordinator. “It showed that the campus really cared about this effort and what was going on.”
About 50 people attended the first meeting Oct. 23. They discussed the taskforce’s structure.
“We decided that there will be committees who will meet once a month, and the task force will also meet once a month,” Croslin said. “Casey Ross-Petherick, the university’s general counsel, is leading the charge on this, and we are hopeful to make some more progress soon.”
Students think the task force is a good idea.
The committees will focus on creating a student programming plan, training and curriculum. The task force has until the end of the academic year to give its recommendations on how to make the university a more inclusive campus.
“I think we are focused on having a positive impact on the campus,” Ross-Petherick said.
Ross-Petherick said if anyone still wants to volunteer, then to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.