QU seeks input on Multicultural Affairs

By on April 15, 2009

The Student Diversity Board asked, and it appears they shall receive.

After sending a letter to the administration calling for student input in the construction of a new department of Multicultural Affairs, Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Mark Thompson told The Chronicle that a plan is in place to include administration, students and faculty in the decision.

Thompson and Vice President and Dean of Students Manuel Carreiro met with SDB on April 7 to discuss the future of multiculturalism at Quinnipiac. According to Thompson, an advisory committee will be put together to “facilitate input from a broader community,” to discover what solution should be put in place.

Currently, Thompson saw the offices and programs as lacking direction.

“As it is now, we’re kind of disjointed,” Thompson said. “We have a lot of little one-dimensional efforts going on. Collectively, you could say they’re multiculturalism, but there’s not really this synergy.”

Since the departure of former Director of Multicultural Affairs Tyrone Black on Feb. 25, Quinnipiac has been looking to expand the department.

“(Black) expressed an under-appreciation for things that went beyond his job description and his role, and I think he’s right in some respects,” President John Lahey told Q30 on Feb. 23. “With his leaving, we are looking at that position, and it is quite possible we will eliminate it as it currently exists and upgrade it along the lines of what he was suggesting.”

Lahey told Q30’s Kevin Aries that “broadening the whole idea of diversity” was a goal of the administration. This could include involving Study Abroad programs and the Albert Schweitzer institute with the school’s push for more diversity.

Black returned to his job at Cheshire Academy earlier this year, and according to SDB Vice-President Paden Livingston, it is now time to look forward.

“It’s not about Tyrone anymore,” Livingston said. “It’s about Quinnipiac. It’s about diversity and inclusion and multiculturalism and how we can benefit all students at Quinnipiac.”

But there will be a ceiling, as Thompson recognized finances as a large concern.

“It’s among the highest priorities for me,” Thompson said. “But we’ve made it pretty clear that this is a really important area for us. We want to take the opportunity to put something in place that’s going to benefit us all.”

For the remainder of this academic year, as well as the first semester of the 2009-10 year, the Office of Multicultural Affairs will remain as is. But for SDB, concerns were few and hopes were high.

“Students and organizations can still do this,” Livingston said. “SHADES has the ability to put on the diversity retreat. SDB has the capacity to put on those multicultural Thanksgiving dinners everybody loves. We can do this. Tyrone leaving has given us the opportunity do this.”

Thompson agreed, saying that being temporarily without a director of multicultural affairs would give Quinnipiac students an opportunity to take diversity and multiculturalism on campus into their own hands.

Thompson said that during the summer and likely the fall, the school would be looking into exactly what organizational structure would be best, whether that be continuing the Office of Multicultural Affairs or perhaps adding a cabinet-level position. The search to fill the position, or possibly multiple positions, would then take place in the spring. Thompson did stress that this was nothing more than a rough timeline.Livingston, a sophomore, saw an especially promising sight within the freshman class.

“There’s something about this freshman class,” he said. “Their willingness to not stand for it ignited us, and drove us to finally saying no to hate on campus. The culture is changing around here.”

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