Editorial | Forum merits reconsideration of approaches
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 08:10
Last week, the administration hosted an open forum for students and faculty to discuss and ask questions about the most recent draft report from the university-wide Council on Diversity. The report, now a year and a half in the making, is meant to acknowledge the concerns of students on campus, as well as seriously evaluate Tufts’ current position and future direction with regards to how we approach the diverse, intersectional identities on campus.
The forum ended up turning into a heated discussion and culminated in select groups of students leaving the room. Although this report is certainly a worthwhile and commendable endeavor, both the administration and student body need to change their approach in these discussions.
To clarify, this is not an attack on either the students or the administration. Indeed, the administration should be applauded for its efforts to address the issue of diversity. It has devoted countless amounts of time, money and human resources to the cause, and University President Anthony Monaco has pledged to hire a high-ranking Chief Diversity Officer for the university. The student body’s input is always an important part of any issue — especially if it is an issue so intertwined with Tufts’ identity.
Students must recognize that not all of their requests are realistic and that proffered solutions to problems are not always practical. That being said, with voices being raised and students visibly upset, there are obviously still issues that must be re-examined.
It is the nature of these open forums that they have habitually been dominated by a small number of students. The document will almost certainly be flawed if more students do not read and give their opinions on how the university should address these issues. The administration also needs to recognize that an open forum may not be the best way to solicit a large amount of student and faculty input. Instead, focus groups or other more intimate discussions attended by various high-ranking members of the council could be more effective. If the administration reached out to student groups on campus, it would serve to attract greater representation in these sessions.
Above all, though, it is high time to see some actual progress. If we can’t have that, let us at least be able to understand why there has yet to be any. Students have felt as though their requests and concerns are not being heard to such an extent that they have felt the need to grill President Monaco in a public forum. There needs to be a better source for everyone — students and faculty alike — to get their facts straight. If members of the council believe that specific concerns have been addressed, show students where changes were made in the latest form of the document to integrate their opinions. Beyond that, if the administration is to credibly claim that student input is being considered, it must also be more transparent as to why other changes were not included. Students cannot know what demands are unreasonable and why their concerns have been unaddressed if issues of budget, manpower and time allocation are unknown.
Nonetheless, it is important to remember the depth of this issue. By agreeing to tackle a topic as complex as campus diversity, the university has shown its commitment to the wants of students. They just need to let everyone know what the issue is in getting from point A to point B.