Minority survey presented to Academic Senate
A recent survey of minority students and faculty on the climate of diversity at Central Michigan University was delivered to the Academic Senate Tuesday by Department of English Language and Literature Carlin Borsheim-Black.
The survey revealed a significant number of people of color say they experience racism and discrimination on campus and in Mount Pleasant. According to the 2015 survey of minority students, nearly 50 percent said they have seen evidence of racism in Mount Pleasant. Another 40 percent said racism exists on campus.
"The key finding that we have taken away is that there has been no consistent improvement in the climate for racial and ethnic diversity at CMU between 2007 and 2015. That is a problem," Borsheim-Black said.
Other key findings included that fact that students continue to have close relationships with people like them, and a majority of students don't take advantage of existing diversity programming hosted by CMU.
"I think our next step is to develop a list of recommendations based on these findings, and work with people in key roles to improve the climate," Borsheim-Black said. "Just sharing the findings is important, and people are working hard, but we have a long way to go."
Professor of English Maureen Eke spoke for several minutes on her frustration with the state of diversity inclusion at CMU.
"In 2003 or 2004 we did the first study of campus climate," Eke said. "We also delivered what we looked at as a diversity report card. we had annual workshops and trainings for staff. We created workshops that focused on creating an inclusive classroom climate. To say to me that we are in this same space is problematic and troubling. What is going on here at CMU?"
Eke also brought up a proposal brought up in the Academic Senate last fall when members of senate were attempting to put other minority related classes into the 4C race category. This was defeated fall 2014, and the proposal of opening up a 4D subgroup in place of adding more classes into 4C subgroup was recently discussed among the Student Government Association.
"We have to look at this presentation annually to remind ourselves that we need to change," Eke said. "I say this bearing in mind the conversation a year ago we had in changing the language in the 4C UP program. If this is what we are dealing with, then it is important that we do consider seriously what happens to courses in that particular group and what language we use to describe courses in that group."
Department of Geography faculty member Benjamin Heumann asked if there were similar surveys done for members of the LGBTQ+ community. The survey’s lead investigator, sociology professor Mary Senter, said 110 students completed interviews on the climate for LGBTQ and women on campus on Oct. 23. Those students are now writing papers based on the data and it will be summarized shortly, she added.
The senate also had a lively conversation about changes in language to the Curricular Authority Document, a form that serves as an authoritative reference and guide for the preparation, submission, and review of curricular proposals.
Ultimately, approval of the changes was postponed the next Academic Senate meeting on Nov. 17.