Freeform

The Importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Funding

By Michael Alberto
Freeform Editor

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. 

Students at Kutztown on their way to class
Photo by Lena Hamm

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. 

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  1. KU has a whole lot of administrators on its payroll. And some of them seem pretty capable like Donovan McCargo, the Dean of Students. He has eight additional administrators working for him, a number of which have the words “Student Conduct” in their title. Why cannot this group along with other KU administrators take steps to “end campus racism” right now? Why is there a need for new funding to do this? One objective that would not require new funding is to hire more faculty of color. A few years ago the Art History Department had this woman who had previously been a Goldman Sachs Afro-Latino Fellow at the Smithsonian on the faculty. After enjoying her African-American Art class in Spring, I was registered for her Latin American Art class in Fall. Then on the first day of class a brand new French-Canadian snowflake professor showed up in her place. The Afro-Latino faculty member was gone.