Discourse / Editorials / April 8, 2015

Thoughts from the embers: Diversity training ensures better leadership on campus

All too often our editorial urges for action. We are pleased to endorse the actions Student Senate has taken in the past weeks to organize mandatory diversity training for student leaders of organizations who want any Senate funding. This step is a pragmatic approach that will better the Knox community for years to come.

By requiring these workshops to receive funds, the Diversity Committee of Student Senate is ensuring the events that take place at Knox will at least be run by students that have been made aware of diversity and inclusivity issues. Far too frequently the campus is left in a reactionary position that could have been avoided if the proper campus conversations had taken place earlier.

The diversity training could not have come at a better time. Arriving on the heels of a Winter Term that saw a demonstration at the Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation, and a teach-in during which administrative personnel noted the infrequent occurrence of diversity training at the college, it was clear that changes needed to be made. Rather than waiting for the administration to complete their own training before turning an eye to the students, Senate used the power of the pocketbook to implement meaningful dialogue.

The measure also catches campus organizations in the midst of transitions, enabling incoming leadership to integrate diversity measures over the summer. Hitting student leaders now produces better clubs in the fall. While it is true that many clubs will be filled with new executive boards, allowing their current leaders to learn and reflect on this past year will help the transitions process occur under a framework that highlights diversity.

There is currently no club on campus that would not benefit from diversity training, including our editorial board members. Making such training a condition for funding all but guarantees that a vast majority of student leaders will come into next year knowing more about inclusivity than the year prior. However, this also indicates a deeper problem. The vast majority of campus still needs to engage in these sorts of conversations and it is falling on a handful of individuals to make a difference.

The roll out of the diversity workshops was far from perfect. An old distribution list of club presidents meant that many did not get the information for the mandatory sessions until very late in the process. This hiccup combined with the low bar of only executive attendance means that many students are not aware of the workshops themselves. These few shortcomings, however, are indicative of an ambitious student body that needs the full benefits of the Knox infrastructure to succeed. Involving administrators in the process will help shoulder the massive task of improving the Knox student body.

We hope the result of this training is apparent in club membership demographics next year. Of course the training should promote a renewed sense of thinking, but perspectives are immaterial. A greater diversity of membership in clubs makes those perspectives real. Representation of people with different perspectives and backgrounds in more clubs is the most ideal outcome of this initiative.

We want to see this program grow in the coming years as the foundation beneath it is incredibly solid. If the administration gets behind this notion that funding should be tied to a commitment to improving group practices, the school’s climate would change drastically in only a small number of years.

 

TKS Editorial Board

Tags:  administration campus environment change diversity Student Senate training workshops

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