Administrators’ forum addresses campus diversity

FSU administrators addressed campus concerns at an SGA-organized forum in the North Hall Commons on Nov. 20.

During the forum, students were able to directly ask questions of a panel of administrators, which included President F. Javier Cevallos, Executive Vice President Dale Hamel and Vice President of Enrollment and Student Development Lorretta Holloway.

The most common questions were about recent hate crimes on campus, as well as overall diversity in the FSU community. Cevallos opened the forum by addressing the crimes, stating the slogan, “Hate is not a fRAMily value.”

Karl Bryan, student trustee, asked how administrators would respond to “people who don’t care” about solving campus problems regarding racism.

Holloway spoke about a “movable middle” – people whose minds can be changed with educational opportunities.

“There are people who are just never going to care,” Holloway said. “The issue is how you move the movable middle. There are people who don’t know, but want to know.”

SGA Senator Ayanna Ferguson spoke about concerns regarding a lack of diversity in curriculum and among faculty at the University. She said even though she has already taken 12 classes, she has not yet had a black professor.

“You want to see a reflection of yourself,” Ferguson said.

Holloway gave anecdotes about her experiences with racism in the workplace – some colleagues asking to touch her hair, others saying she would not get fired from her job because she is black.

Holloway said, “They’re not necessarily mean or horrible people, but it was that sort of moment of education.”

She added, “Education provides empathy.”

Cevallos said the University is working to increase faculty diversity, but explained possible reasons for Ferguson’s concerns. He said not only do professors stay for a long time because of tenure, but universities must choose from a small, limited pool of Ph.D. candidates.

Cevallos said, “Everyone else is trying to diversify their faculties as well, so we’re competing with a lot of universities to attract the same kind of candidates. That being said, over the last few years, we have done significantly better than many other places. … It’s still much lower than it should be, but we have done much better with the student body, in terms of reflecting the world that we live in.

“I understand the need to have people who look like us, talk like us, eat like us and act like us to understand the world that we live in. We are part of the same world, so we have to reflect that,” Cevallos said.

Other issues discussed at the forum included class registration difficulties, campus safety, commuter student experiences and student organization advertising protocols.

There were approximately 15 students in attendance. The majority of students who attended the forum are members of SGA, including Kyle Rosa, SGA president, and Mike O’Brien, SGA senate chair.

Bryan moderated the forum by calling on students who had questions for the administrators. Molly Fennessey, SGA treasurer, thanked the administrators for their hard work.

Matt O’Sullivan, senator of the class of ’21, said SGA members “didn’t have to come, but were encouraged.”

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