The search to hire a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) has begun after being first recommended in 2011 by a third-party consulting firm, a process that cost the school about $25,000.
The officer will be a vice president-level position meant to help coordinate collaboration among committees, departments and individuals trying to create diversity initiatives on campus. The director of the Multicultural Center will report directly to this officer.
Some may wonder why it has taken three years to initiate the hiring of this top-level administrator, especially since it was the consulting firm’s number one recommendation.
We at The Gatepost have asked the same question over the past few years, advocating for the school to allocate money and resources to an initiative that would make our diversity efforts more cohesive and efficient.
Now that we have a new president, F. Javier Cevallos, the school is finally following through with this recommendation.
Some community members have been skeptical about the position, saying that having a head of diversity initiatives may dissuade the individual organizations and community members from being personally motivated to make a difference.
Others may be concerned that the money allocated to create this position could be better spent on other resources and initiatives, as when former President Timothy Flanagan said publicly that he wasn’t willing to raise student fees to create this position.
What the CDIO is meant to do is make individual people and groups accountable for the programs they’re working on and help to give them the resources they need to accomplish their goals. Rather than allowing people to get lazy, it should create a stronger driving force behind these initiatives.
While it might require a lot of money to hire a qualified person for this position, find an office space and provide him or her with the necessary resources to do the job, using cost as an excuse not to hire a diversity officer was cheap at best. At worst, it’s saying that this issue was low on the list of priorities.
Despite recent successes, the fact is that this school needs to continue to improve on diversity and inclusion efforts. In a survey conducted by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, a startling number of black students reported not feeling as if the campus is a comfortable environment, and more gay and lesbian students felt they are pressured to minimize characteristics about themselves.
Putting money and personnel into creating a position to centralize and unify the diversity efforts on campus will be one more step toward creating an environment where all students feel comfortable to be themselves.
What’s more, the fact that the CDIO will report directly to the president is indicative of the importance and respect this position will have.
This initiative is important because it proves that Cevallos is serious about his commitment to diversity, and also that he is listening to what qualified committees on campus, such as the CDI, have been requesting for years.
We at The Gatepost agree with Cevallos when he recently said, “If we designate something as being important, we have to put the resources towards it.”