Last week, the Faculty Senate made a commitment that will benefit everyone associated with SIU Carbondale. The Resolution to Charge Faculty Senate Standing Committees to Address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is noteworthy because it acknowledges that we have work to do to provide a “safe, diverse, welcoming, and inclusive academic environment.”
More importantly, it charges all of its standing committees to identify ways they can “foster greater inclusivity and produce systematic change.” The intent to incorporate diversity and inclusion into all of the senate’s ongoing work, rather than set it aside as an “add-on,” is game-changing.
The senators recognize that if we are to create a truly inclusive campus, the principles of equity and inclusion must be embedded in everything we do. We cannot limit the responsibility to a task force or an office or an academic program.
The senate resolution states that its efforts require a holistic approach that gives committees “responsibility for identifying the specific, objective, and measurable goals within their … missions.” This is true for the entire campus. We share responsibility for incorporating this important work within our own spheres of influence, in everything we do.
A system effort
In a message to everyone in the SIU System following what he referred to “extremely discouraging” national events, President Dan Mahony initiated an ongoing, system-wide “conversation of understanding” and asked the system’s campuses to establish working groups that will identify strategies to fulfill our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Our own newly appointed Chancellor’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, which includes representatives from across campus and the community, has already been working diligently on its recommendations, and I will share them shortly. Again, conversations and a task force are not the answer in and of themselves. It will be the actions they inspire across our campus that will make the difference.
Making positive strides in diversity and inclusion will have tangible benefits. It will impact our ability to attract and retain faculty, staff and students, and it will confirm that we embrace the unique tradition of access, opportunity and inclusive excellence described in our mission statement.
With the leadership of the Faculty Senate, President Mahony, the task force and others, we will take SIUC to new heights!