A group charged with analyzing diversity and inclusion at the University of Kansas released a report Friday that says reforms are needed in university policies, procedures and practices.
The report said in summary that “the lack of diversity, equity and inclusion at KU is not the result of a lack of information and knowledge about existing concerns and grievances, or misperceptions on the part of students and personnel with grievances. Rather, the challenges stem from errors of commission and omission, and longstanding institutional inequities.”
The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group, formed more than four months ago, presented its report Thursday to KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Sara Rosen, interim provost and executive vice chancellor.
KU’s Office of the Provost established the advisory group last fall to examine instances of discrimination and intolerance on the Lawrence campus and to recommend actions that might “create an environment where everyone is valued,” the university stated.
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The 13-member advisory group — led by Clarence Lang, chairman of the department of African and African-American studies, and athletic director Sheahon Zenger — includes faculty members, staff and students.
The report made recommendations relating to students, faculty, staff and the entire campus. It concluded, among other things, that “aside from retention figures, the lack of diversity in the overall composition of KU students has been reason for concern.” And it said that while KU has the rare distinction of a black female chancellor in Gray-Little, “this alone does not translate into improved opportunities for minoritized populations.”
Last fall, following protests at the University of Missouri that set off racially charged student protests on campuses across the country, a group of KU students — Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk — staged their own protests over the lack of diversity, equity and fair treatment of minority groups on their campus.
Students presented the KU administration with a list of 15 demands that included:
▪ Hire more minority faculty.
▪ Require inclusion training for all students, staff, faculty and administration.
▪ Increase the percentage of underrepresented domestic and undocumented students.
▪ Establish a team of multicultural counselors to address severe mental illnesses and the needs of students of color by fall 2016.
▪ Establish a multicultural student government independent of the current KU Student Senate. (A multicultural student government was established last month.)
“We believe that the discourse of diversity is too often reduced to matters of interpersonal relations, being heard, or feeling welcomed,” the report said in its summary. “This trivializes what are in fact structural issues related to the equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.”
The advisory group also recommended that it become a permanent committee that continues to monitor diversity and equity at KU.