As protests in Missouri die down, how one midstate college addresses diversity

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Nov 17, 2015 4:43 AM

(Carlisle) -- As protests die down at the University of Missouri, Dickinson College says it's been having conversations to address diversity for years.

The school's vice president and dean of student life says change can't happen immediately, but notes Dickinson has been working to create a community where minorities feel comfortable.

Joyce Bylander says efforts include everything from student-run clubs on campus to a diversity plan to open hours with the college's president.

"You have to make sure that you're intentional in your recruitment and retention of faculty, staff and students, so that when people come into an institution, they can see themselves there, they can find themselves there," says Bylander.

Students at the University of Missouri questioned the administration's response to their concerns about how minorities are treated -- leading to the resignation of the state system's leader.

Bylander says it was a good reminder administrators always need to be listening and develop answers that include the entire community.

"We always have to be listening to our students. We always have to be paying attention to them. We have to hear when they are expressing pain and discomfort, and we have to respond to that," adds Bylander.

She says the fact that protests over racial tolerance have been happening lately show there's still work to be done.

Students can share concerns with Dickinson's Student Senate, and professors and staff, on top of the open hours with the college's president.

She says a chief diversity officer also monitors any structural discrimination that go unnoticed.

About 19 percent of the Class of 2019 at Dickinson are students of color, and 11 percent are from foreign countries.

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