By Michael Alberto
On July 21, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and State Senator Art Haywood held a press conference at KU to discuss funding for the newly created Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives for the Pennsylvania state school system. Both State Senator Judy Schwank and KU’s President Kenneth Hawkinson were influential and highly supportive of funding the new initiatives.
The conference also announced the creation of the Coalition to End Campus Racism and included student demands of ending racial harassment and speech, nurturing and retaining students of color, creating and organizing an incident report system, having more mandatory diversity training and mental health resources and hiring more faculty and staff of color.
Moving forward on these initiatives is an important step for the PASSHE schools, especially KU, to take. It is important that higher education listens to the demands of students to create a more inclusive and supportive education system that serves the interests of all students of varying races and ethnicities as well as economic statuses.
Equally as important, the creation of the Coalition to End Campus Racism and the effort put forth by the administrator must be followed up with adequate action that will manifest these initiatives in our campus community. Being able to secure funding and vocally supporting DEI initiatives is important. It shows that the university and the state education system listens to its students and that action is being taken towards necessary initiatives.
However, ending the discussion at securing the funding would fall short of the action that needs to be taken now. The university should continue to listen to its students and successfully execute the goals laid out in the demands of the Coalition to End Campus Racism. The millions of dollars allocated for these initiatives should only be the beginning of a project that should aim to create a universally equitable and warm environment for every student that steps on campus.