Art King, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, and David Christy, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, held a meeting titled “From Diversity to Inclusion” on March 13.
The meeting invited students to talk about their experiences on campus with diversity, opening a forum to convey their thoughts and feelings on the subject to adminstration.
While the meeting was open to all students, only four students attended. Out of these students, one was a Ticker reporter.
“We’re teaming up each semester to bring a group of students together, hopefully a diverse group of students, because we want to hear the voices of our students, we want to hear their experiences from a diverse perspective in the classroom,” King said. “As we talk about the institution being a diverse college we don’t want to simply look at the numbers … We want to talk about inclusivity and how students are engaged with each other.”
King and Christy each asked the students several questions, including: “What has been the best experience you have had with a professor during office hours or out of the classroom?”; “Were your professors diverse?”; “Did your professor allow you to speak freely?”; “Was it a safe space?”; and “Did you want to be protected/your teachers to break up an argument?”
The students agreed that while there are several white, male professors at Baruch and that the faculty could be more diverse, professors have let them have open discussions about race, ethnicity and gender.
Students felt that the open discussion was especially important during the latest presidential election, when professors had to remind students to respect one another’s opinions even during disagreements.
The discussion also examined Baruch’s large number of adjunct professors instead of full-time or tenured professors. Students reflected on their experiences, saying that adjunct professors have scarce office hours and can typically only speak one-on-one for a few minutes before or after class. Adjuncts also tend to have another job and are less likely to have personal relationships with their students.
Additionally, the topic of required courses came up at the meeting. Many students at Baruch, especially those in the Zicklin School of Business, never take black, Latino or Asian studies courses because they are not required.
Students are only required to take one multicultural class. Christy acknowledged this as a concern but said that, at this moment, he wants to stress hiring more diverse faculty in all fields.
Other sensitive issues were discussed as well. Ryan Betters, Baruch College’s Graduate Student Assembly president, asked if it was helpful or harmful to call someone racist. Jasper Diaz, one of Baruch’s delegates to the University Student Senate, brought up the offensive comments a professor at Baruch said about Asian people.
Gaby Cervantes, a student who attended the meeting, discussed her experience as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient. Cervantes said she has become more empowered by her professors as a DACA recipient.
“I got from this meeting [that there are] really, really open-minded, faculty members who valued students’ opinions and I wasn’t really expecting that,”
This was the first “Diversity to Inclusion” meeting. Though King and Christy intend on holding one every semester.