Following an open forum discussion with President Schapiro, Provost Linzer, Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Telles-Irvin and Dean of Students Burgie Howard, a collection of students have continued to meet with administrators and launch grassroots initiatives to increase the dialogue about diversity on campus and encourage more understanding within the Northwestern student population. We, the students of Northwestern University, request the following six additions to further improve diversity amongst the student population:
I. Academic Requirement
We propose that a cultural competency requirement be included in the curriculum for Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences with the intention of eventually making this a university-wide requirement. We believe that creating an academic conversation around issues of diversity is a crucial part of one’s university education. This requirement would help students better understand the various experiences of historically marginalized groups, including but not limited to: race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, class, and age. Our intention is to provide all Northwestern students with a truly well rounded education.
II. Chief Diversity Officer
A position within the administration to improve relations for students of diverse backgrounds must be established. This person would work with all six schools and departments to create a diversity plan. They will also work with students, student groups, and MSA to better improve diversity conditions amongst the undergraduate and graduate body. If an issue happens on campus, a student or faculty member will feel comfortable reaching out immediately to this person who will use the proper resources to best address the problem.
III. Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) Resources
The Northwestern MSA must be given more resources, particularly in terms of finances and staff. Out of 8,425 full-time undergraduates, 3,058 are students of color at Northwestern, and MSA (Asian/Asian American Studies, African American Student Affairs, Hispanic/Latino Student Affairs and now LGBT Student Affairs) only has seven staff members to provide them with support and services. MSA also receives little funding to adequately support these students and the 60 recognized student groups. They receive $120,000 per year, which divides to $43 per student. To foster a more an inclusive environment the Northwestern administration should [double] resources for this division of student affairs.
More attention must be given to networks such as CLAVE (Council of Latino Admission Volunteers for Education) and NU Ambassadors (Northwestern’s African American Recruitment Organization) for the purpose of connecting with a wider range of students. These two committees will seek students from different areas of the country by planning more school visits, looking into more campus visits, and creating an effective message to present to students of colors. The Office of Admissions focuses a great deal on Chicago Public Schools, and while we praise these efforts, they do not have to stop at Chicago. With CLAVE and Ambassadors, many more urban schools can be reached to gain a broader class with students from all areas with truly diversified experiences and backgrounds.
V. Revamped Diversity Plan
As stands, the recently released strategic plan briefly addresses diversity in the section entitled "Connect Our Community." Aside from this, the Strategic Plan, which is supposed to serve as a master blueprint for the forward movement of the University, scantily addresses the issue of diversity. We propose a detailed Diversity Plan be strategically developed and released for all major departments on campus, mainly the Office of the Provost, the Department of Student Affairs, and each of the six schools. The Diversity Plan for each department should also include methods to accommodate the retention of such new diversity.
VI. Diversity Report
During the formation of the University Strategic Plan, there was a compilation of data regarding diversity on campus, known as the Diversity Report. However, despite being asked to release this report on multiple occasions, it has not been made public to the Northwestern community. We propose this report along with any data collected in the last 3 years regarding diversity be released and published so that all may have access to this information.
Make a greater investment in diversity with the following initiatives
Diversity is important to Northwestern because it enhances the student experience by enriching relationships and perspectives. It allows students to appreciate others' differences and backgrounds, making Northwestern a welcoming and accepting environment for students from every background.