Whose Diversity? pushes administration to hear demands

The independent student group says University leaders need to take action on its list of demands to diversify campus.

by Blair Emerson

Whose Diversity? isn’t satisfied with the University of Minnesota administration’s responses to its broad list of diversity-rooted demands released last month.

More than 30 students and faculty members from the independent student group gathered on the Northrop Mall Thursday to discuss their issues with President Eric Kaler’s email response to their demands to diversify the University.

Kaler responded to the group’s concerns last week with a list of initiatives the University is currently working on to increase diversity. But Whose Diversity? members say his response didn’t address all their demands and it patronized their group.

“The initial responses of our administration are disappointing, to say the least, though not unexpected,” University student and employee Idalia Robles De Leon said to the crowd on Thursday.

University officials said they’ve reached out to the group several times, but members declined to meet with them.

Robles De Leon said the group hasn’t been contacted by University administrators, though officials have emailed her directly to address the group’s concerns.

The group invited Kaler and Vice President for Equity and Diversity Katrice Albert to the Thursday discussion, but they didn’t attend due to short notice and because it was “not conducive to greater faculty and student involvement,” Albert said in an email statement.

In the statement, Albert said she and Kaler agree with the group’s concerns and that she on Wednesday invited its members to plan a public forum with administrators to address the group’s demands.

Whose Diversity? organizer Tori Hong said the group plans to take Albert’s invitation to organize a forum.

The group will continue its efforts to diversify the campus throughout the summer and next school year, Hong said. Whose Diversity? members plan to rally during the first week of fall classes to grow awareness about the issues, she said.

“We will continue to organize and we will not be discouraged by [the administration’s] lack of response,” Robles De Leon said at the Thursday gathering. “This is just the beginning and if anything, our list of demands has the potential to grow.”