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EQ.04.01 Committee on Equal Opportunity

EQ.04.01 Annual Report for 2003-04

(Final - Information)

The Senate Committee on Equal Opportunity (EQ) is responsible for developing, encouraging, and evaluating the development of equal opportunity and affirmative action programs and guidelines that are intended to increase the numbers, and improve the status, of minority groups in the University community. The following is a summary of issues concluded or considered at length by EQ during the 2003-04 academic year.

Campus Diversity

EQ.97.03, Climate for Ethnic Minorities

EQ again addressed the issue of the ability of incoming freshmen to select their housing. There are split opinions on campus regarding this issue. Some believe that eliminating the housing preference would create more diversity while others believe it would make minority students feel more isolated. Other ways are sought to promote diversity and interaction with others without taking away the “comfort zone” of a student’s living arrangements.

Diversity in the Dorms
Jack Collins, Director of Housing, and Mary Cloos, Assistant Director of Housing, updated the EQ committee on continuing student choice for dorm assignments and other diversity initiatives in housing.

The possibility of restructuring the housing assignment process has been explored; however, the University does not want to take away the comfort zone that students have by being able to decide where they will live. Currently, returning students choose their preferences for the next year. Contracts from next year's new students are received as the students are accepted to the University and their housing assignments are determined by the date their contract is received. If a student does not specify a roommate preference, Housing attempts to pair roommates by class, college and curriculum.

A group appointed by the Chancellor is developing a new multi-cultural Learning and Living Community. This initiative does not change the way housing assignments are determined but it does offer a multi-cultural living environment. The new community will be located at Pennsylvania Avenue Residence halls and have approximately 120 students with balanced ratios of gender and race.

Collins told of the multi-cultural advocate initiative. There are six multi-cultural advocates who are responsible for implementing programs in the halls which promote diversity. A recent program was "Mix It Up" where students were randomly given a colored bead as they entered the dining hall and encouraged to sit at the table with others with the same colored bead. The program was well received by students. Housing hopes to expand on the advocate initiative.

EQ asked about the substance-free dorm. Snyder Hall offers a substance-free living environment. Students living there are committed to healthy habits and do not use tobacco products, alcohol, and other drugs inside the hall or on campus.

EQ noted that events sponsored by more than one cultural group would be a way to bring students together. EQ noted that emphasis needs to be placed on bringing people of different backgrounds together. It was also noted that internal segregation occurs not just in housing but all across campus.

EQ has sent a letter requesting the Chancellor to direct the Dean of Students to arrange a campus-wide forum or townhall meeting to encourage and develop mechanisms for greater student interaction across racial lines. A possible panel of student groups could include representatives from the Greek system, University or University approved residence halls, minority organizations, and cultural centers.

Student Perspective on Diversity
Dan Bureau, Assistant Dean of Students and Coordinator of Greek Affairs, and Nick Olenec, President of Interfraternity Council, attended a meeting of EQ to discuss diversity initiatives. The Greek system involves approximately 22% of the campus community. There are groups that are more predominantly caucasian, but also groups that are more predominantly African-American. There are also groups based on a particular religion, cultural and even area of study. There are four councils within the Greek system:

Black Greek Council - predominantly African-American groups
Interfraternity Council - fraternities
Panhellenic Council - sororities
United Greek Council - culturally based groups

The Dean of Students Office holds a joint weekly meeting with representatives from these groups. There continues to be some segregation; however, there has been an increase in diversity. The continued segregation sometimes occurs due to students migrating towards others with which they are most comfortable. There is current dialogue encouraging groups to have more diverse experiences (i.e., a requirement for members to attend a function at one of the cultural centers).

EQ has requested Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs Patricia Askew to promote appreciation for diversity and cross-cultural/racial interaction through in-house education in residence halls and fraternities and sororities. One suggested mechanism was the planning of events that would include both majority and minority groups.

Flexible Tenure-Track Appointments

EQ together with the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women has studied the issue of more flexible procedures for tenure. Deans and potential faculty members have expressed concerns that the inflexibility of the current tenure-track process hinders retention and recruitment of faculty in special situations, such as women with small children or families with multiple work or family care responsibilities. A survey on Flexible Tenure-Track Appointments has been developed to be distributed to tenured and tenure-track faculty before the end of the semester. The committees will analyze the survey and prepare reports to the appropriate University offices.

American Sign Language as a Second Language

An inquiry concerning sign language as a second language was forwarded to Education Policy. The Society of Signers, a student registered organization, is working to validate the inclusion of American Sign Language as a second language at the University. SENATE COMMITTEE ON EQUAL OPPORTUNITY Roger Shanks, Chair Reginald Alston Linda Beale Zakia Clayton Ryan Croke Belden Fields Mariangela Segre Ellie Tewksbury