Today students led a march from Foss Hill to my office to underscore their commitment to equity and inclusion and to reverse what they see as powerful forces of discrimination still at work on our campus. I joined a few hundred Wesleyans who walked and chanted through the main part of campus to the front of South College, my office, where they presented five demands to make our university a more just learning community.
Although I realized the awkward dimensions of my presence at the march, I share the major goals of this group and decided to join in their call for justice and community. I, too, recognize that many students from under-represented groups face significant obstacles on our campus. And I know that there have been times when I or members of my administration have contributed to the perception that we didn’t understand the challenges faced by students who come from a wide variety of backgrounds with an even wider variety of interests. We can do better, and we will.
We are already working on a number of initiatives to: increase faculty diversity, support low-income students, add faculty in African-American Studies, diversify the population of undergraduates majoring in the sciences, improve representation in the student support services staff. This is just a partial list of some of the areas on which we are working.
I promise to work with students, faculty and staff to remove obstacles and to increase support. Our team is reviewing the document presented by the marchers, and we will be responding to it soon. Together, we can make Wesleyan a place where all can thrive.