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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Kington Creates Diversity Council

By Roni Finkelstein

finkelst@grinnell.edu

President Raynard Kington initiated a new advisory council charged with providing strategic recommendations to him on how to develop and sustain an inclusive and diverse campus community.  In addition, the new Council on Diversity and Inclusion monitors the effectiveness of the College’s inclusion practices and diversity initiatives.  Chief Diversity Officer Elena Bernal ’93 and Associate Professor of Religious Studies Henry Rietz ’89 act as chairs of the council.

Primarily, the body is set to prioritize and take action on pressing issues of diversity, to be tackled in the short term.

“We want to make sure that every year there is an outcome so that this is really not just having diversity conversations,” Bernal said. “There are many places for that and [the conversations] can even be sponsored by the council, but these conversations should come to a place where they actually have an impact on the campus community.”

Diversity is a priority for President Kington because of the vital part it plays in a complete education.

“I think its impossible to call yourself an educated person now if you are not comfortable dealing with a diverse group of people in all sorts of ways, whether that be social class or race diversity or geography or age or nationality,” Kington said.

The chairs have already begun speaking with President Kington about initiatives concerning enrollment.

“We’ve talked about veterans, we’ve talked about students with disabilities, we’ve talked about first-generation students and students with a difference in political perspectives and just really expanded that,” Bernal explained.  “We really want to make sure that it’s that harmony of voices on issues that we’re dealing with.”

The council will consist of a variety of students, staff and faculty. Student members will be drawn from SGA cabinet and the Multicultural Leadership Council as President Kington sees these two bodies as vital structures in representing the student body.

“When possible, I, in forming committees like this, do like to build on government structure, so we asked SGA in this case to give us a representative to make sure that we have appropriate student voices and also that that voice is connected to the government structure of the student body,” Kington said.

The initiative is meant to provide experience for Grinnell students that will help them throughout college, graduate school and their careers.

“We live in a diverse world and I think that you can proceed professionally or even in terms of being an engaged member of a democracy without having an ability to function in a diverse world and work with people who are different from yourself,” Kington said.

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  • G

    GC LeaderApr 23, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Here’s to B. Voyles…

    The biggest obstacle to positive change, doing good, or just plain getting along in our world is conflicting ideology and lack of civility in discourse. Being educationally enlightened in the liberal arts won’t mean anything if there remains a group-think about what is acceptable on the spectrum of politics and ideas.

    GC has long marginalized non PC views of the world and given excessive praise to those who track liberal political views. The best symphonies harmonize disparate sounds and instruments, they don’t ignore nor attempt to drown out one section or another.

    A truly diverse GC should be no different — in fact it should step up and finally lead on something that is vital to us all.

    Reply
  • S

    StudentApr 21, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Bruce, Bernal explained this when she said, “We’ve talked about veterans, we’ve talked about students with disabilities, we’ve talked about first-generation students and students with a difference in political perspectives and just really expanded that,” Bernal explained. “We really want to make sure that it’s that harmony of voices on issues that we’re dealing with.”

    Reply
  • H

    HeidiApr 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I am pleased by the formation of this council. As white first-generation college student at Grinnell, I often felt that my needs were overlooked. I hope that this committee will institutionalize support for first-gens from the first day they arrive on campus, until they graduate.

    Reply
  • B

    bruce a voylesApr 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I notice that President Kington does not mention “political” in his list of desired forms of diversity for Grinnell College. And yet he even says in his statement that one can not be “an engaged member of a democracy without having an ability to function in a diverse world and work with people who are different from yourself.” All the other forms of diversity will mean nothing if Grinnell’s students and faculty continue to refuse to recognize that a large majority of people do not share your narrow view of the world.

    Reply