As colleges across the country are facing issues of diversity and discrimination, UW-La Crosse is also working to improve their campus climate. A confederate flag seen on campus last month sparked conversations about racism, and as Fox 25/48’s Erin O’Brien explains, the administration is now taking steps toward a more inclusive and diverse campus.
In a move toward improving the campus climate, Chancellor Joe Gow has invited Nizam Arain, director of affirmative action, to be a member of the university’s cabinet, a leadership team including himself and four vice chancellors.
While Arain’s daily duties won’t change much, he will sit in on the cabinet’s regular meetings.
“I think what I’ll be doing in those meetings is adding a perspective, adding a unique set of expertise and knowledge that I have in certain areas, particularly when it comes to issues of equity and diversity on campus, and helping to ensure that when the folks out on that table are addressing whatever issues come up across on campus, that these issues and these perspectives are part of that conversation.”
“I think he really takes the interest of our minority students and non-minority students in hand. I think he’s really going to push us in the right direction.”
But Chancellor Gow acknowledges that there is still work to be done on campus to address racism.
“I have no doubt that our students of color and other students are subject to insults and there are things that are racially charged and we do get those hate reports and we take those very seriously and try to investigate. I’d like to say that it’s a good climate, but that would be kind of naive. Is it as bad as some of the other places around the country that we’ve heard about? I don’t think so. So we always have work to do.”
The university says this is just one small step in their plans to improve the campus climate. Chancellor Joe Gow also announced the exploration of a new position, a chief diversity officer, to be added in the next few months.
And many questions still remain about creating that position, but the university will continue to consider it. In La Crosse, Erin O’Brien, Fox 25 48 News at 9.