Only a handful of students were present at the second annual Open Forum sponsored by the Student Government Association on March 12. It was mostly faculty and community members who showed interest by heading to the 1787 Room in the Campus Center.
But the hour-long Open Forum wasn’t so open after all. The conversation was steered by a mix of college officials and SGA members.
The main discussion topic of the open forum was inclusivity.
Elizabeth Young, president of the SGA, defines inclusivity for Castleton as, “How welcoming the college is to race, age, gender, LGBTQ, international students, (and those with) physical and mental disabilities.”
The college emphasizes the importance of different cultures because the population of school is predominantly white. According to the American Community Survey, in 2004 Vermont is the whitest state in America.
Coordinator of International Student Services Deborah Singiser spoke about the “Castleton on the Move” initiative, which launched in 2013.
The strategic plan’s goal is to increase the number of students attending Castleton to 2,500 by the year 2023. This goal hopes to not only increase the student population, but also increase the number of international students attending Castleton, she said.
“Castleton has 30 international students, so adding another 100 students would bring that number to 130, which is just over 5 percent,” said Singiser.
Adan Osman, a member of the Multicultural Club whose parents are from Kenya, was one of the few students at the forum. Osman explained what his club was involved in and said it will be hosting a dodgeball tournament to promote diversity. Though the students will compete against each other, the main idea is to share food and culture from different cultures.
Osman also talked about how he has volunteered his time with local elementary aged children and how he played games from his culture with them and talked to them about different cultures.
“The kids are the next generation. We need to acknowledge them, we need to care about them. If students don’t know about other cultures, they are pretty much lost,” he said.
The SGA Open Forums can be attended by anyone interested in Castleton as a community and the school. SGA is brainstorming a way to increase the number of students at the next open forum, since the students make up the majority of the school.
Young said a date for the next one hasn’t been set.