In the wake of the recent hate crimes that occurred on campus, many students have been calling on the administration to take action to address our University’s racism problem.
In response, on Monday, the University held a Unity Workshop for students, staff and faculty – “the first of several campus unifying initiatives to take back our campus,” according to Millie González, interim chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, in a campus-wide email.
Meant to serve as a forum where all members of the FSU community could make suggestions, the faculty-and-administrator-driven event was divided into 12 topic-specific discussions. Some of these discussions focused on intercultural training, cameras in dorms and what diversity instruction new faculty should have before starting at FSU.
While we at The Gatepost commend the University for offering this workshop, there were problems in how the event was planned and executed.
According to a Gatepost reporter who attended the Unity Workshop, including herself and The Gatepost photographer who accompanied her, only five students went to the event. Overall, 55 people attended.
Given the workshop was in a basement-level classroom in the Hemenway Annex, we at The Gatepost aren’t all that surprised more students didn’t show up. If location is destiny, then this was destined to fail. First of all, it isn’t the easiest location to find. If students aren’t familiar with the layout of the building, they would have found it difficult to find the room in time to make it to the workshop during the free block.
Additionally, the lecture-style layout of the room made it hard for people to move around the space, hindering the dialogue that was needed at an event like this. Many of the attendees found it difficult to move from group to group without interrupting other ongoing discussions.
Events such as this work best in the McCarthy Center Forum, where round tables are placed for All-University meetings and networking events – a setup more conducive for Monday’s group discussions. It’s also a much easier location for most students to find.
In the future, administrators should reach out to student leaders in order to host workshops that draw more student participants.
The catalyst for Monday’s workshop was the recent hate crimes – it would have made sense for clubs such as Black Student Union and the Student Government Association, among other student groups, to be involved in the discussion of how to implement change on campus in the wake of the crimes.
If there had been student leaders who co-facilitated the workshop held on Monday, perhaps more students would have participated.
Also, while we understand that event planning takes time, we at The Gatepost believe more students would have gone to the workshop had it been scheduled shortly following the hate crimes, not almost a month later.
If this truly is the first of several campus-unifying initiatives aimed to bring this campus together, hopefully administrators will make sure students are part of the planning process for events like this going forward.