As the diversity and inclusion office debuts a month of programming for students to learn about equity, anti-racism and bias, administrators have released the plan for an on-campus fall semester that they have submitted to D.C. officials – raising more questions than answers about fall operations.
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As the national spotlight remains on racism, equity and inclusion, Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement staff have pieced together a series of events for members of the GW community to learn about race and engage in thoughtful conversations on the topic. About 3,000 attendees have registered so far, demonstrating that the GW community is willing and eager to learn.
Discussions about race and diversity at GW have been marked by several events in the past few years, like racist remarks from sorority members, pushes to rid the Marvin Center of the name of a segregationist and University President Thomas LeBlanc’s insensitive analogy regarding divestment. Amid these incidents and consistent student pushes for diversity and inclusion, it is remarkable to see this amount of interest in the discussion series.
Diversity and inclusion is not something that should ebb and flow with recent events and public interest, and hopefully the interest in anti-racism and the series will be a starting point for increased discussion and action moving forward at GW.
Calls for transparency and increased information from the University are constant, especially amid the pandemic – and the recent release of GW’s plan about the upcoming semester submitted to D.C. officials seems to fulfill those calls for transparency. But releasing the plan before it has been approved by District officials increases uncertainty for students who want concrete answers for the fall semester.
The plan does not detail what the move-in process will look, leaving students in limbo surrounding their potentially expensive travel plans. It also doesn’t go into enough detail about whether students will stay in their chosen residence halls for the fall, how students will maintain distance in classes, how online classes will work for those who are unable to return to campus and whether the University actually has the capacity to test and trace, as listed in the plan.
The University should have either waited to release the plan until approved or been much more specific and detailed about the large portions that will directly affect students. In the meantime, while students anxiously await what D.C. officials say about the plan and additional details about the logistics of the plan, many will feel uneasy simply about the safety of returning to campus when a second wave of the coronavirus might hit during the semester.
Hannah Thacker, a rising junior majoring in political communication, is the opinions editor.