We the people of UND

A conversation with Dean Halgren about administration’s current diversity plan

Andre Marquis Washington
, News Writer

On Tuesday, February 20, a campus-wide email invitation for the University of North Dakota’s 2018 Experience Survey arrived in the inboxes of the UND community. 

Delivered by Cara Halgren, Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs and Diversity, the mass email reads, “I invite you to take a moment to complete this survey about your general perceptions of diversity and inclusion on campus.” 

Halgren leads Goal 5 of the ONE UND Strategic Plan.  Goal 5’s intention is to foster a welcoming, safe and inclusive campus climate. 

“In a general sense, diversity is everyone being invited and included in the conversation, and also having an equal voice in the conversation,” Halgren said. 

Typically, every year a campus-wide invitation for UND’s Experience Survey is sent out. Following the survey, a UND committee assesses and sums up the results and UND’s Diversity Factor is released. 

In recent years, UND’s Diversity Factor – the level of diversity awareness and acceptance on the UND campus – has described UND students’ understanding of diversity as lacking both “substance” and “a sense of broader social patterns.” 

Halgren is determined that UND’s Experience Survey provides better footing for UND to approach and deal with issues of diversity.  

“As we better understand UND’s diversity factor, we can take the necessary steps.  I am hopeful then that students, staff and faculty may see a difference here at UND,” Halgren said. 

So far, here are the necessary areas that UND is addressing in dealing with issues of diversity. 

UND has not filled the vacancy of the Associate Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion position which Sandra Mitchell resigned from due to incompatible visions for UND diversity. 

Halgren said, “We’re looking at filling that void from a different angle, possibly internally, possibly via a faculty fellowship.  UND has a few people who would serve well as a diversity faculty fellowship.” 

UND’s Women Center currently has no director, losing both Kay Mendick and Amber Flynn within the last year. 

“Budget cuts and buyouts happened and there wasn’t a succession plan for the Women’s Center, but we’re working on it,” Halgren said.  

The director of the UND’s Pride Center,  Chris Schlarb, who went by the pronoun “they” instead of (s)he, did not pass their probationary period of employment. 

“Some people just are not a fit here at UND,” Halgren said.  

UND’s budget for any aspect related to diversity seems to be decreasing. 

Halgren said, “I wouldn’t say that the budget for diversity is decreasing.  But I will say that it isn’t increasing.” 

$5000 in incentives are being offered to encourage the UND community to participate in UND’s 2018 Experience Survey. 

“Whether UND is ready or not for diversity, it’s already here,” Halgren said. 

Andrė Marquis Washington is a news writer for Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].