Student Initiatives for Diversity and Inclusion: A
Various organizations around campus came together to further support diversity and inclusion. This past winter, the Residence Hall Association launched their Winter Clothing Rental program to help students stay warm with money budgeted for the next 10 years to sustain the program. We think RHA went above and beyond to understand and advocate for the individual needs of the community.
The Undergraduate Student Government has also taken many steps to support the CWRU community. They passed a resolution to increase financial transparency and accountability in admissions, which will publicly release financial data of students to assess whether the socioeconomic diversity of the student body is being damaged by the new admissions policy. We appreciate the actions USG has taken to work with administration and students to gain transparency and increase accountability. In addition, they have taken initiative to make CWRU a sanctuary campus and establish a new standing committee for Diversity and Inclusion.
USG is also continuing to work on an Oath to Inclusion where individuals and organizations could have the option of taking the oath to show their commitment to diversity and inclusion and have a website creating a website dedicated to the oath of inclusion and multiculturalism. After some of USG’s members disagreed over the implementation of diversity and inclusion with the University Diversity Collaborative last semester, we are pleased to see the groups looking past their differences and coming together to work towards a common goal. We look forward to seeing how the groups will continue to work together. The addition of suggestion boxes in the Tinkham Veale University Center expresses USG’s tireless work to reach out to students.
Although the UDC recently put together another successful World Expo event to celebrate diversity, we would like to see more progress done for diversity and inclusion. UDC’s website suggest that it “will serve as an advocating body for diversity groups, a platform for voicing student diversity concerns, and a resource for organizations in regards to diversity programming,” but more action needs to take place in order to achieve these goals. Though the increase in presence of their umbrella organizations are important to share and educate more members of the CWRU community about different cultures, we are convinced that the events could do more to fundamentally benefit diversity and inclusion.
Many more initiatives are developing such as the initiative to bring free menstrual products to students on campus. The Menstrual Health Product Task Force represented many student organizations and offices across campus to install the initiative for the fall 2017 semester and beyond. The efforts taken to create an inclusive space on campus have made a statement and we look forward to more progress as the initiatives come to fruition in the future.
Communication to the campus community: C-
There is a clear misunderstanding and miscommunication as to what the students expect from CWRU and what CWRU thinks they need to tell students. Until there is a bridge between administration and students or body connecting the two, members of the CWRU community will continue to be frustrated and hurt. Perhaps students can get more involved in holding the Office of Public Safety accountable which could be taken in the form of a review committee to mend what the university wants to report on and what students expects it to report on.
The lack of any type of notification from the university regarding Steve Stephens is not the only time students have been frustrated. Students expressed their frustration when a sex offender was accused of kidnapping and a woman at gunpoint at the Cleveland Institute of Art parking lot, and later raping her, didn’t prompt any communication. We cannot expect students to follow crime logs. There needs to be increased transparency for these significant crimes. If CWRU members get a notification from The Daily advertising positive developments on campus, it is reasonable to expect to also receive an alert about a kidnapping that happened adjacent to campus.
There needs to be more transparency about when there would and wouldn’t be an alert along with the rules for informing us. A mile-based range for security alerts and notifications should be clarified to ensure there will be no further miscommunication. This is only fair to students, especially if they live adjacent to or off-campus. Some CWRU students also enroll in the CIA and the Cleveland Institute of Music and should be entitled to know about situations happening on those campuses.
Many students were confused with the relocation of the greenie stop from Kelvin Smith Library Oval to Euclid Avenue. More efforts need to be taken to make it clear when a bus stop is moved. While KSL is on campus, Euclid is considered off-campus. The original stop by KSL was heavily utilized and essential for students studying late in KSL. Although there is a worker intended to escort students to the stop and ensure their safety, frustration regarding miscommunication and confusion about when the bus reverses onto the sidewalk remain.
Provost Commission on the Undergraduate Experience (CUE): B
CUE was formed in January 2016 as a faculty-led effort to assess and improve undergraduate education and residential campus experience. It holds goals consistent with CWRU’s strategic plan to support students and their learning by advancing by improving SAGES, general education requirements and residential environments. Overall, we believe the commission is a good start with good effort, but we haven’t seen its potential actualized.
A progress report on CUE’s activities was posted in March, including progress on their milestones, review of the undergraduate experience, goals and five thinking groups to assess current practices and recommend changes to the undergraduate experience. While steps have been taken to improve the learning environment, we believe CUE could be more holistic by including campus culture and assessing whether students wish to attend CWRU.
Although an email was sent regarding university updates and opportunities for feedback electronically and through open forum discussion, we would like to see more consistent updates and opportunities to contribute feedback in the future. The Chair of CUE holds office hours for members of the CWRU community, but they are not publicized heavily and thus will not be maximized. Although there is more information about progress and updates online, the university cannot expect student to be proactive in checking them. More communication from the commission would encourage students to provide feedback and contribute to the process.
Overall, we believe this will benefit the student body, especially with the finalization of the formation of the five thinking groups. They should be able to identify problems within the university that affect us all, and working with the Provost should ensure that initiatives are completed. The full effectiveness of the board may not be seen until the future, but the start puts us in the right direction. Until then, we would like to continue hearing about what has happened and what needs development.
University response to Executive Order: B
In response to the Executive Order suspending immigration to the U.S from certain countries, CWRU took steps to inform and communicate with students, but took no stance about it in the first email they sent out. President Barbara Snyder and Provost Bud Baeslack were proactive in emailing the student body regarding the issue, offering an information session and a contact for concerns. However, a stance against the Executive Order was taken only after the Association of American Universities released a statement against it. We believe the response to the executive order through email was appropriate in affirming the values and goals of CWRU, but was slow. The school should be more willing to step away from if it means doing what is right.
Regarding the sanctuary campus initiative, the university has yet to respond to it, despite the semester coming to a close. As of right now, it is unclear how deep the university’s commitment is to minority students in these type of situations.
Despite CWRU only taking a stance after confirmation from the AAU, the Center for International Affairs did well with keeping up with the executive order. They also requested photos and videos from students, staff and faculty to share the message that all are wanted and welcome at CWRU as a part of the #YouAreWelcomeHereCWRU campaign.