U diversity is a shared issue

Students and administrators share goals, but they need to work together.

A student collective has caused a stir on campus recently with demands for a renewed focus on diversity at the University of Minnesota.

The group Whose Diversity? takes inspiration from past civil rights activism on campus, emphasizing action over education and firmly but misguidedly disassociating itself from the administration.

The University has, of course, taken steps to increase diversity and address disparities on campus. New Vice President of Equity and Diversity Katrice Albert has announced new initiatives this spring, and conversations about potential racial profiling this past fall seemed to be at least a productive first step.

Both sides share important goals, and their efforts are commendable, but shutting down discussion is a mistake.

In a recent letter to the editor, a member of Students for a Democratic Society and Whose Diversity? supporter conflated the University’s willingness to talk about administrative pay and other budget issues with its willingness to talk about diversity. The University has invited dialogue on the issue, and that invitation should be taken in good faith.

SDS has organized discussions with Whose Diversity? and other groups. That’s a great start, but they must reach out to the administration if they want to see real action.

The University’s diversity efforts are far from perfect — they put a disproportionate emphasis on black students over retaining other students of color, for example — and the administration needs to hear why SDS, Whose Diversity? and other groups are equipped to give that feedback.

Whether all of these parties are talking or not, they share the same goals. Shutting down discussion will only protract the University’s diversity issues.