On Wednesday, Nov. 20, the Student Government Association (SGA) hosted a Town Hall to discuss issues surrounding diversity on campus.
It was presented by Jonathan Page, co-chair of the University Diversity council and the director of multicultural affairs, and Anthony Jackson, the Student Diversity & Inclusion Council (SDIC) Representative for SGA.
The event started with Page presenting the Five-Year Diversity Strategic Plan, including the university’s President, W. Taylor Reveley IV’s, goals.
Those goals include “intensifying enthusiasm across all enrollment, reflecting diversity of America, academic enterprise at heart, transforming lives and camaraderie.”
The plan was developed from drawing from the campus climate survey, conducting focus groups, literature reviews and looking at strategic models. Page and Dr. Naomi Johnson will be presenting the plan to the University Planning Committee in April 2020.
It will be comprised of measurable goals to be assessed regularly to see the progress and find opportunities for improvement.
After presenting the plan, Page opened the floor for discussion. He used questions to facilitate the conversation and get students to start. They were encouraged to be open and honest about their opinions and experiences.
Junior Autumn High started the conversation, discussing her feelings on diversity on campus. She said, “Longwood does a good job being diverse, but lacks in being inclusive.”
High added that it is hard to get involved and find your way at first when coming to Longwood. Fifth-year senior Cecil Hayes agreed that it is harder to find your groups as a freshman and that outreach is an area that needs improvement.
The students expanded on the idea that it was hard for them to find their “group” or “community” when they first came to Longwood. They all agreed that once they got involved sophomore year they became happier and enjoyed themselves a lot more.
Page continued with the questions, asking what the students felt were the biggest challenges and areas of opportunities to focus on with regard to diversity, access and inclusion.
Page then went on to ask what could be done to make campus more inclusive. Sophomore Timothy Holcey, said, “We could make more races and ethnicities at things like orientation. I heard that we’re the first faces that incoming students see.”
The other students agreed, and they also said that they should get the conversations surrounding diversity started sooner. They also want to ensure that there is a more collective university-level engagement on campus.
The students also want to work with various offices on campus to include more diversity programs work on outreach.
The students in attendance also want to work to make sure that the resources on campus are more accessible to students that need it, especially early on.