After deciding that Pittsburg State needed to reaffirm their stance on diversity and equality, PSU President Steve Scott announced the formation of the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Council.
The new council will replace a group known as the University Diversity Council. According to a press release by PSU, the new council will have “…a much broader base of membership, broader responsibilities, and additional resources.”
The council is made up of faculty and staff from all over campus as well as a PSU student. It will be led by Deatrea Rose, director of Student Diversity Programs
“The new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council reaches across every facet of the university ranging from a diverse faculty and staff and one student,” Rose said. “This makeup is a representative sample of our diverse campus community.”
The first order of business for the council is a university-wide climate study, which a contract with a national consultant has been signed.
“…The Council has… (begun) working on the launch of a university campus climate survey,” Rose said. “This survey will be administered to faculty, staff, administrators and students beginning in early October. Once the survey closes, the results will be shared with campus and that’s when the work begins. We will use the results of the survey to facilitate a university diversity strategic plan which will lay out the framework for diversity related initiatives on campus. Those initiatives will be driven by the results of the survey.”
Having numerous members from several areas around campus allows more voices to be heard, according to Rose.
“Securing campus buy in is very important any time a new initiative is introduced,” Rose said. “Diversity, equity and inclusion can be a sensitive topic because those three words encompass a great deal. Everyone has an opinion about what diversity is and how it should (and) does… (affect) the daily happenings in our world. The advantages of having a diverse group on campus is that the message of our goals and objectives can be shared by the many voices assisting in the work. Again, garnering support and understanding for the work needed to ensure that students feel safe, welcomed and acknowledged on our campus is integral to our mission.”
Rose feels it’s important for students to, not only understand diversity, but embrace it.
“For the past 20 years, I have dedicated my life to that of service to students,” Rose said. “I have always worked with underrepresented, marginalized students advocating for them in and out of the classrooms. I see the work on this council moving us in a new focused direction. This work is extremely important because college is a place where the whole person is developed. When students leave college, they will work in a diverse workforce with people who may not look like them, act like them, or believe like them. If students don’t embrace diversity here at PSU, they may find themselves in situations that they may have never experienced and be ill prepared to navigate those spaces.”
According to Rose, this is an “exciting time” for PSU.
“…Positive change is happening,” Rose said. “One of our core values is to foster a diverse and international campus culture among students, faculty, and staff that supports an understanding and acceptance of a variety of ideas, beliefs, and cultures, thereby creating opportunity for all.”