DS View: Diversity

A new vice president position on campus will encourage celebration and education of diversity.


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President Robert Kelley’s office recently announced a new position to be added to the university: vice president of diversity and inclusion.

According to Dean of Students Cara Halgren, the new Vice President will tackle the abstract challenge of “advancing diversity” at UND. Areas of student life that will fall under the new leader’s influence include the Multicultural Center, the International Center, the Women’s Center, American Indian Student Services and campus LGBTQA organizations.

It seems the position will coordinate events, book relevant speakers and acts and assist campus groups in holding their own functions that encourage diversity and educate the student body about the positive aspects of having a diverse campus.

The new vice president will also have an effect on UND’s curriculum, according to Halgren. We can expect changes to the approved essential studies courses in the global and United States diversity requirements — the “G” and “U” classified classes students are required to take.

The university has recruited the help of a professional search firm Spelman Johnson, that is conducting an international search to find qualified candidates to fill the new position. According to its website, the firm has successfully helped nearly 500 universities find candidates for similarly important positions, so the money the university is giving to the search firm will hopefully be well spent.

This new position could be a valuable addition to UND.

In a state with one of the least ethnically, religiously, politically and economically diverse populations in the country, there is always room and the need for change. Diversity-advocating groups on campus do a lot of great things in Grand Forks, but why shouldn’t we — as a student body — be happy to have more opportunities available?

The International Center’s culture nights are educational, productive and entertaining — China night and Ghana night are coming up on Nov. 14 and Dec. 5. But wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to wait weeks between cultural events? Larger schools, like the the University of Southern California, holds dozens of cultural learning experience events on a daily basis. It is understandable, perhaps, that we in North Dakota aren’t as culturally interesting as a 40,000-student large Pac-12 university in the second largest metropolis in the country. But, in the pursuit of exceptionalism, of course we should try to emulate a diverse atmosphere like USC’s.

This new position is the first step.

To those who might see the university’s new vice president role as a flashy display of public relations — that the position might do little to actually impact students — look at the title again: vice president of diversity. How could that be a bad thing? We would love to live in a world where every university has a Vice President of Diversity and where learning about other cultures that challenge personal beliefs is an automatic part of going to college.

Campus should be eager to see what changes will follow the new vice president’s arrival.