Quinnipiac releases plan to advance racial justice

Ten initiatives are planned to achieve systematic changes

Chatwan Mongkol, Associate News Editor

President Judy Olian outlined 10 actions to advance racial justice at Quinnipiac University in an email she sent out on July 6, to members of the university community.

After the university faced pressure from the community through an online petition, a discussion held by minority students, on-campus racism incidents shared on an Instagram account and a proposed diversity plan by the Multicultural Students Leadership Council (MSLC), Olian announced the plan to promote inclusivity among the community members.

Khalilah Brown-Dean, professor of political science, will serve as a senior director for inclusive excellence along with Don Sawyer, vice president for equity and inclusion, to ensure the implementation of the plan.

According to the email, these are 10 initiatives planned:

  1. Dwayne Boucaud and Amber Kelly of the School of Health Sciences, and Hillary Haldane and Robert Yawson in the University Curriculum will review the curriculum to increase learning about the roots and contemporary manifestations of social justice, privilege, oppression and the drivers of social change.
  2. There will be a clear, readily accessible system to report bias incidents. Witnesses and victims of racism will be able to report. The university will inform the community on the process.
  3. Starting in the fall, there will be a required annual student training on diversity, equity and inclusion, which will be facilitated by the Department of Cultural and Global Engagement (DCGE).
  4. There will be more mandatory training for faculty and staff beyond the existing “Harassment and Discrimination” and “Managing Bias” online training. The training will focus on contemporary manifestations of racism and bias, while including working to build skills in facilitating and participating in difficult conversations.
  5. The university will make sure to update the demographic data about faculty, staff and student representation on its website.
  6. There will be more affinity groups for faculty and staff on campus. Alumni will also have an opportunity to build affinity groups.
  7. The university will enhance the pipeline and retention of underrepresented faculty, staff and students by improving policies and recruiting process practices.
  8. The university will redefine the “Legend of the Bobcats” to include acknowledgement of the Indigenous people.
  9. The DCGE will receive more funding to develop future projects.
  10. The university will promote voter registrations and civic participation.

The letter stated that more details and progress of each initiative will be released to keep students, faculty, staff and alumni in the loop because the administration alone could not accomplish the goal.

“These actions require community-wide commitment, efforts and collaboration. We will not achieve the results to which we aspire unless we are passionate and authentic in our desire for systemic change,” the letter stated.

Andrew DePass, MSLC executive chair and student who proposed the diversity plan during a student town hall on June 24, said many points laid out in his proposed plan were addressed in this plan.

“The plan of action is a good start for addressing underrepresentation and marginalization at the university. If the changes are properly implemented, I feel that a great deal of progress can be made to [increase] diversity and minority equity on campus,” DePass said.

The part of the plan Depass feels most hopeful about is the increased accessibility to updated demographic data about faculty, staff and student representations. DePass said it will be a tool for current and future members of the community to monitor the progress of racial advancement at the university.

DePass is looking forward to more specific plans on the implementation and the correspondence between the administration and the MSLC.

Sokaina Asar, a former Quinnipiac student who started the petition, posted on her Instagram about the progress the university has made.

“I am not sure if this is a victory, but it is the most specific response I have seen from Quinnipiac that has actually addressed the main points of the petition and shows an attempt to hold itself accountable,” Asar said.

Asar also said it is now up to the students to hold the university accountable and make sure the administration implements the plan it released.