One of the lesser known committees at Goucher College is the Diversity Standing Committee. The committee is responsible for “the development and timely implementation of tangible institutional diversity goals.” In other words, the Committee is responsible for making sure that students of all races, sexual identities, gender identities, and religions feel represented and safe on campus. It also serves as an advisory board to the President.
The Committee has existed for many years, but has been on hiatus for the past year and a half. It started up again in the spring of 2014. Many of the members have previously worked on the committee, and of those, many have retained their original positions. Still, the committee has been reconstructed in order to better fulfill the needs of Goucher students.
One of the things the Committee has changed is their statement, which was revised to be shorter and more precise. While the original statement was a little over half a page long, the newer one is a paragraph long. It says that the college is dedicated to social justice, diversity, and multiculturalism. It also states they want to provide a more inclusive community for all students.
This year’s Committee consists of two Co-Chairs: Emily Perl and Angelo Robinson, Admissions member Nenelwa Tomi, faculty members James Dator, Johnny Turtle and Isabelle Moreno-Lopez. Other members of the committee include Fred Mauk, Chaplian Cynthia Terry, Robert Ray and Debbie Lupton.
This year’s Committee also has four student members: Nakpangi Ali ’17, Eliezer Cartagena ’18, Yabsera Faris ‘15, and Leena Mazid ’16. According to Perl, these students were chosen because of their work in clubs such as Umoja, FemCo, and PRISM, and because they represent students who come from minority groups. Mazid, for example, was invited the committee by Perl. “I may have been chosen because I am half Syrian, half American, and was raised in a Muslim household,” she said. Mazid has also worked in the OSE, and is a member of FemCo. Though, at the time of her interview the Committee had not yet met, she said, “I would like to offer my voice as a Muslim Arab American woman and feminist. I’d love to engage students in conversations to hear their opinions of the campus.” She also said that the most important issues to her were “religious, ethnic, racial, and sexual diversity.”
Cartagena, a first year student, has already involved himself in several clubs committed to diversity on campus: Umoja, HOLA, FemCo and Prism. He was also a member of the Diversity Committee at his high school. He is very concerned with the issues of micro-aggression on campus.
“I have experienced many racial micro-aggressions since I have been on this campus, and I think a lot of times, individuals do not realize the impact of what they are saying. These micro-aggressions are the reason I want to educate people on campus about diversity. Another issue that I have seen is that people only regard diversity when it comes to race. There are many core cultural identifiers that individuals identify with, and I think people on this campus need to understand that,” he said.
Each of the students on the Committee seems to have their own goals as to what they want to accomplish. None of them had heard of the Committee prior being asked to join, but it’s justifiable, since its coming back after a hiatus.
The staff and faculty members of the committee also have their own goals, which are data collection, recruitment, student and alumni services, education and training, accountability and sustainment of the Committee. The first goal deals with collecting data on students concerning “gender identity (beyond the binary), sexual orientation and socioeconomic status” according to a packet created by Perl. The college does not currently collect any data on any these factors, and information gender identity and sexual orientation are a priority for the college.
The recruitment goal is to recruit more students of color, and first generation college students. Perl talked about a program that will be developed called the Educational Opportunity Program. The programwill be available to Maryland residents who have “high financial need” or who are first generation students. It will allow students to receive extra support from the college. The third goal will provide more support to some subpopulation of students. The fourth goal is to “provide training sessions to all students, faculty, and staff that educate them about appropriate language and terminology and how to work to reduce the perpetuation of various micro-aggressions.” The fifth goal is to make faculty and staff “accountable for developing their own expertise and good practices in promoting diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusion on campus.”
Though not many students were aware of the Committee, before its hiatus, it once played an important role in student life. The hope is now that the Committee has been reformed and reorganized, it can benefit all students in some way shape or form.