Diversity Advisory Council continues to seek ideas for enhanced inclusion at UND

Liz Kacher, Staff Writer

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The conversation about diversity and inclusion practices on campus continues as the Diversity Advisory Council continues to look at how UND can become a more welcoming environment.

The Diversity Advisory Council was established by President Kennedy last month to provide a recommendation for improving campus climate about diversity and inclusion issues.

A huge part of our task is being able to speak for our colleagues and be that voice around diversity on campus so that it’s not me who’s saying this, but a representative body of our peers who are supporting and encouraging this.”

— Sandra Mitchell - Chair of Diversity Advisory Council

The council, composed of students, faculty, staff and community members, has three objectives set forth by Kennedy. They are looking into existing practices about diversity and inclusion on campus, they will then compare these practices to the practices of other universities, and then will provide a recommendation to Kennedy.

The council is looking into the best practices of universities who have faced similar issues as they discuss what is best to implement for UND. Sandra Mitchell, chair of the council, spoke to the Grand Forks Herald on Friday said some of those best practices include “all first-year students reading the same book or the campus taking part in a service projects.”

The council is looking into what has worked for other universities as a model for what could work for our university. They are looking into practices that have proven to be effective in other places to see if they could work here.

Mitchell specified three topics related to diversity and inclusion that the council is looking into — the best practices throughout higher education, curriculum and co-curricular activities related to diversity.

Mitchell said the committee hopes to continue the discussion and lead the campus when these issues arise at UND.

“One of the things we struggle with is how do we help people understand the complexities of diversity,” Mitchell said in an interview with the Herald. “It’s not achieved through superficial things but how do you do things that have both breadth and depth? Because that’s where the change will take place. Many schools throughout the country have councils similar to this one, which are a governing body that reports to the university president.”

The council was formed after racially charged pictures involving UND students were posted on Snapchat back in September. The pictures led students to hold a rally on campus asking for a zero tolerance policy. Because of the First Amendment of the Constitution, a UND investigation concluded the pictures didn’t violate the UND Code of Student Life.

The council hopes to be a model for leadership to the entire university according to Mitchell. They aspire to be a voice for everyone in the community as a whole. The council wants everyone to be included in this conversation.

“A huge part of our task is being able to speak for our colleagues and be that voice around diversity on campus so that it’s not me who’s saying this, but a representative body of our peers who are supporting and encouraging this,” Mitchell explained in an interview with the Herald.

While the council aims to meet the Dec. 15 deadline, Mitchell told the Herald that the group will continue to meet so they can provide people with the opportunity to be involved in the decision-making process about diversity and inclusion practices.

Liz Kacher is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]

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