DEI committee has new leader, plans

Castleton University’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee recently reconvened for the first time this semester and now has a new chair.
Francesca Catalano, dean of Health and Sciences, is taking over chair duties from Victoria Angis, associate dean of students, who is retiring at the end of the month.
The committee so far has focused on creating sub-committees, and meeting with professionals on campus regarding understanding policies, procedures, and micro-aggressions. In tandem with the operations of the DEI, the CU See Me initiative that was created to hold campus events to bring community members together to celebrate differences produced a spring convocation video.
Additionally, CU See Me held two film discussions for Black history month. Lastly, the DEI committee created the email address and developed protocols for its use.
But some feel the committee hasn’t taken action that directly creates a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive college experience for their underrepresented student populations.
However, Amanda Richardson, director of Institutional Research, director of the McNair Scholars Program, and DEI member, said she’s hopeful an upcoming campus climate survey will promote change.
“Last year, the committee chose the instrument and voted to administer it this year and received financial support to do so,” Richardson said.
The survey will be focused on getting general feedback from CU students, faculty, and staff regarding how they feel about the campus climate.
“The hope is that by conducting a survey it provides an opportunity for everyone on campus to give feedback so it can be generalizable to the campus experience,” Richardson said.
The DEI Committee plans to take more involved action based on the results of the survey. Looking forward, the committee plans on implementing a two-part workshop on implicit bias to take place in April, though there is also talk of additional training for faculty.
CU alum and current Student Development Coordinator, Adnane Adossama, believes that CU can do more for their underrepresented student populations. Adossama shares an informed perspective as he is a recent graduate turned employee, as well as a member of both the CU NAACP chapter and the DEI Committee. Adossama also mentioned that as a student he had his own experiences on campus concerning discrimination.
“Students need to know who they can go to and who they can talk to in the instance of discrimination and students need to know that there are consequences to discrimination,” Adossama said. “Students need to feel heard. Somebody should actually listen to them, hear what they’re going through and experiencing, and give them the support they need because that is what is the most important.
“We live in a world of technology. Faculty can fill out online forms for IT to come by, why can’t there be a form to report discrimination issues? If someone can’t learn in your space because of what they are experiencing then you are failing your student as an educator.”
Becky Eno, academic counselor, part-time faculty, and DEI Committee member, spoke on the current status of the committee.
“I’ve always been involved in committees that have been working on social justice and equity issues, it’s just part of who I am, I think. I’ve been amazed at how many people have gotten involved in DEI and especially during the pandemic,” Eno said. “Certainly, the recent events in the country relating to social justice created a lot more activism among people who may not have been activists before.”
Eno believes that student involvement within the committee is representative of the next generation’s desire to do better for historically marginalized populations.
“I’m proud that we have had as many students involved in the actual group as we have. Castleton students, and this next generation in general, seem to be taking the reins and really pushing for change,” Eno said.

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