Staff Editorial: An open letter to the new vice provost

Dr. Reed,

You enter your role at GW as the vice provost for diversity and inclusion at a time when there has been a call for an improvement in cultural diversity on campus. The University’s decision to create your position represents an administrative identification of this principal campus issue, and we welcome you to your role on campus.

You will join the GW community at the end of May, but before then, there is a great deal to be done. Your job requires more than symbolism to be effective, and the next step should be to identify what GW needs regarding diversity and do everything in your power to provide necessary solutions to the problems.

As an outsider to GW, it is understandable that you are not abreast of the pressing issues on campus regarding diversity and inclusion, and that you plan to learn more about campus before starting in May. Thankfully, three extant campus bodies have taken the time and effort needed to make the transition to your role as swift as possible.

Before the University created the vice provost position, there was not an administrator who was singularly dedicated to expanding campus diversity. But there are several bodies that did make strides in identifying the most salient campus issues regarding diversity and inclusion.

We suggest consulting with the members of the GW Council on Diversity and Inclusion, the Dean’s Council for Multicultural Recruitment and the Multicultural Student Services Center in order to realize what are the problem areas regarding diversity and inclusion on campus. They should have the strongest idea of what needs to be done, and they should be major players in the work you do at GW.

And once you are aware of the issues, please get to work immediately.

A university can only benefit from an increased palate of ideas, backgrounds and voices, and that is why diversity must be a priority at the administrative, academic and student levels. Fortunately, the GW community is already exposed to a range of perspectives, but in your position, you should maintain an eagle-eye focus on continuing to nurture such an atmosphere.

Unequivocally, students have a more enriched educational experience if they are exposed to a variety of voices and encounter a range of backgrounds. Dr. Reed, you must lead a thorough administrative review of how GW handles the cultivation of such an environment. Consider the diversity of the administration and faculty. Delve into their curricula – do the professors lift literature and lecture materials from a multicultural spectrum of authors? Evaluate the way that GW hires new professors and administrators – regardless of their race, will they present students with the most dynamic community possible?

Last semester the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences added a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies minor, an important vehicle for allowing students to gain an even more vibrant education. With this, GW demonstrated its dedication to creating an academic environment that encourages diversity. This sort of overt focus on diversity should be a normative academic element of GW.

In terms of student life, Dr. Reed, there is an array of student organizations you can use to invigorate a sense of diversity on campus. Greek life provides a prime example of this. Currently, social Greek-life organizations on campus are somewhat divided between the multicultural sororities and fraternities and the Panhellenic and Interfraternity councils. When students first enter GW in fall of their freshman years, they need to have enough exposure to all of these organizations, and at the same time, so that students considering Greek life are not forced to choose one form of Greek life over another. Holding a Greek-life night with all of the campus chapters before recruitment or rush would allow for an even playing field when students visit different chapters.

To address the issues surrounding diversity and inclusion on campus you must gain a strong understanding of these issues. After you arrive in May, use the summer to speak with the three existing bodies on campus that currently address diversity. And when the academic year begins again next fall, we look forward to an established plan of how you will promote the environment of diversity on campus that you were brought here to create.

With the creation of the role of a vice provost who is dedicated to fostering this environment, there is much to be done. Dr. Reed, we look forward to seeing what you can do with this role, and hope that you can make tangible improvements in an area that is generally plagued by the overuse of buzzwords.

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