University Senate focuses on diversity

Officials said the University wants to recruit students from diverse backgrounds.

Matt Graham

Despite a controversial plan to close General College, the University still wants to increase its diversity under part of a new proposal, an official said Thursday at a University Senate meeting.

E. Thomas Sullivan, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, spoke about the University’s strategic-positioning plans, which were announced in March. The plan would close General College and restructure the College of Human Ecology.

“If we don’t (succeed in building a diverse student body), we will have ultimately failed as a university,” he said.

Sullivan said the University plans to work extensively with schools starting in preschool, not kindergarten.

He said the University wants to identify and recruit talented students from diverse backgrounds.

“But we can’t be successful if we don’t do it before kindergarten,” he said.

Sullivan said 16.4 percent of the University’s student body is made up of minorities.

“We can do better than 16.4,” he said.

He said the University plans to extend the General College’s commitment to diversity and expand it to all of the University’s colleges.

But Colin Schwensohn, a student senator and biology science student, said he is skeptical of the proposal.

“I went to an inner-city school, and I saw first-hand the type of inequalities that go on,” he said. “A lot of students don’t necessarily take their education seriously in high school, but they can still be productive college students.”

Schwensohn said General College provides a way for students with less-impressive high school records to receive quality college educations.

Student senator Nathan Wanderman said he was upset students were not more involved in the strategic-positioning planning process.

“The involvement of students in the development of these proposals was awful,” he said.

Wanderman said students will have input on the plan in the future, but “it’s like trying to mold clay after you’ve put it in a kiln. You can chip away at it, but it’s basically been molded.”

Other senate news

The senate also passed a proposal recommending there be more discussion with student government when the administration considers eliminating programs in the future.

The proposal’s authors said they are not seeking student voting rights but student consultation.

The proposal was made after the occupational therapy program was closed.

The senate also passed a proposal to allow dependents of faculty members who have been at the University for five or more years to attend the University at a 50 percent rate. Proponents said they hoped the proposal would make the University more competitive in recruiting top students, faculty and staff members.