University News

Admins discuss diversity at UCS meeting

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 11, 2012

 

Liza Cariaga-Lo, associate provost for academic development and diversity, and Mary Grace Almandrez, director of the Third World Center and assistant dean of the college, spoke about efforts to improve campus diversity at Wednesday night’s general body meeting of the Undergraduate Council of Students.

Cariaga-Lo, who began at the University in July alongside President Christina Paxson, spoke mainly of the importance of increasing faculty diversity and of University plans to implement related initiatives.

The University has made “remarkable progress” in diversifying its undergraduate population, Cariaga-Lo said, but it “has a lot of work to do with faculty diversity.”

“We see diversity as the work of developing inclusive excellence,” she said.

The University needs to develop a strategic plan to ensure that resources are best allocated to recruit, develop, retain and promote diverse scholars, she said. It needs to consider its role in the larger community of academia to help more diverse scholars enter the academic pipeline, she added.

“There are great programs here … but we don’t think about them as a seamless, strategic plan to diversify the academy and diversify the University,” she said.

After Cariaga-Lo discussed her role with UCS members, Almandrez spoke about the mission of the TWC and asked them for their thoughts on the center.

The TWC is “an open space where students can deal with the transition of becoming a minority,” said Afia Kwakwa ’14, chair of the Campus Life Committee.

“TWC is a great place – you can get involved in conversations there regardless of your ethnicity,” said Abigail Braiman ’15, chair of the Committee for Admissions and Student Services.

The main objectives of the center include supporting students of color, complementing classroom learning with programs that center on differences across cultures and providing opportunities for students to engage in social justice training and student leadership development, Almandrez said.

She said she does not like to refer to the center as a “safe space,” but rather as a “brave space” where students can engage in “messy” conversations.

This year, faculty members and administrators will perform a self-evaluation of the center to determine whether its mission is appropriate and whether they are succeeding in carrying it out. A team of outside experts will also evaluate the center.

Several UCS members said they know people who have been put off by the center’s name.

Almandrez said the name is one part of the center that will be considered in the evaluation process, though she warned it could be a “divisive” issue. Some people are attached to its historical roots, while others find the name offensive, she said.

TWC staff members are in the process of visiting similar centers at peer institutions to learn how different models function, Almandrez added.

“We can’t be everything to everyone,” Almandrez said. “We are here for all students who need us.”

After the two speakers presented, Roxanne Alaghband ’15 was appointed as a student member to the College Curriculum Council. She will replace Kathleen Hill ‘14.5. 

UCS Vice President Brandon Tomasso ’13 said the CCC thought it was important to maintain gender diversity, so Alaghband was chosen to fill the position over the already-appointed alternate. 

He also told UCS members to brainstorm a catchy name for a new initiative the council is launching that will allow students to enter a lottery to eat meals with Paxson. The first of these meals will be a breakfast at the Faculty Club. 

  • Anonymous

    There was another BDH staff writer’s article about Brown students from foreign countries. I paste my comment for this article too, because this article is also about diversity on campus. There should be as much diversity on campus as consistent with the college’s educational mission. As such, diversity in integrity levels should NOT be allowed. But it is allowed at Brown. Here is my comment:

    One of the countries on that list of top 9 contains a disproportionate number of wholesale fabrication of high school records, SAT scores, applications essays written for them by unethical educational counselors, and lies about family financial situations (in order to get needs-based financial aid). There is one other country outside of that list of top 9 which also contains a disproportionate number of such cheaters. Brown University admissions office and Dean of College office know about this, but have not used the college codes of conduct in their (in)action. President Paxson, welcome to Brown.

    If President Paxson is going to hit the fund raising trail in support of her pending strategic plans, she might want to be ready to face the question about why Brown is defrauded so easily by some of these foreign applicants, and then why Brown Deans sweep things under the rug.