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Diversity plan proposed

Rebecca Bravo
Staff Writer

The University’s Working Group on Diversity has proposed a strategic plan for diversity among faculty, staff and students to support the diverse student body, improve climate and foster research on diversity issues.

The plan was discussed at a town meeting for faculty, staff and students Tuesday.

“Social justice is a key component of this plan,” said Daniel Loera, director of multicultural services. “We’ve (included) it because we need to go beyond the general façade of what we are culturally.”

The presentation was given by the members of the University’s Working Group on Diversity, which includes President Stephen Morgan and several faculty and administrative leaders on campus who gathered input and feedback from other members of the faculty.

The University of La Verne is already well known for its diverse student body, but the Diversity Group feels that research, curricula and organizational structure should better support people of the variety of different cultural, social, political, ethnic and religious backgrounds represented.

The proposed plan to diversify the campus has also integrated social justice.

The Working Group wants the plan to go beyond just tolerance but an understanding of the diversity.

“Tolerance can be a nasty word. Sometimes it doesn’t convey what diversity is really about,” said Justin Saldana, associate professor of education and Working Group member.

Another goal is to foster, promote, and support diversity research. This is intended to be a continuous process as the meaning of diversity is continually changing.

Diversity may have a different meaning to different age groups, and one goal of this plan is to bring an understanding of these differences on campus for past, present and future generations.

The group also hopes to recruit and retain a diverse faculty and administration.

This raised many eyebrows in the audience who questioned the diversity plan, fearing the interference with the hiring process and basis of salaries.

“We are not trying to put quotas into the system of hiring, we’re just trying to diversify the staff,” said Richard Rose, co-chair for the Coalition for Diversity and Professor of Religion.

“This is not about salaries and money, this is about fulfilling a mission,” Saldana said.

The plan also called for engagement in the broader community. Not only does the plan include expanding diversity to current students and staff but also to alumni, the community of La Verne and surrounding cities.

The Working Group on Diversity has a total of 37 objectives and 133 initiatives that it hopes to use as a jump start. The group is also open to suggestions.

“We realize we’re not starting from scratch but there is always room for improvement,” said Trish Long, professor of psychology and co-chairwoman for the Coalition for Diversity.

Not only are staff and faculty involved but students are highly encouraged to participate in structuring this evolving plan.

“We’re thinking of the plan metaphorically. The plan is like a symphony, it’s only when the different instruments come together that we will make something sound good,” Long said.

Student meetings are scheduled for the month of April, where students’ thoughts on diversity and the strategic plan will be heard and taken into account. The Group hopes to beging phasing in its plans by September.

“This is more than a dream, it’s a vision and we’re going to fulfill this vision,” Morgan said.

For more information, visit sites.laverne.edu/strategic-plan-for-diversity.

Rebecca Bravo can be reached at rebecca.bravo@laverne.edu.

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