Before It Happens Here Meeting on Diversity

Natalie Spahn

In response to the protest this past Saturday, students, faculty, and alumni met in the Oasis room at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday to talk about diversity, transparency, and change at Augustana College.
Leaders from student groups such as Latinx Unidos, Black Student Union, Student Government Association, College Republicans, and Muslim Student Association met with faculty members like President Steve Bahls, Provost Pareena Lawrence, and Dean of Students Evelyn Campbell to name a few. Around 30 people sat in the Oasis room to discuss issues on campus; most recently the controversial chalk writings.
President Bahls handed out a list of recent and pending actions taken by the senior administration that have to do with diversity. After briefly going through what has and will be done to make the campus more diverse, President Bahls asked people to share their ideas and experiences. He was very attentive and open to suggestions.
Students and alumni shared thoughtful ideas to help make a more inclusive campus. More transparency from administration, more offices and faculty for diversity, and more support by administration are some of the main points talked about.
Cindy Morales, a senior and President of Latinx Unidos, attended the meeting and passionately shared her thoughts on the issues of diversity. She said, “It helps that faculty and staff were there because it has pretty much always been students who come address these concerns, and I think it means more to administration when faculty are reflecting these concerns.” She would like more transparency from the administration with regards to what actions are being taken and what strategies are in place.
“I believe the best classroom is a diverse classroom. Not only do you learn subject matter, but you learn from one another,” said Admissions Counselor, Eric Rowell, who attended the meeting.
Charlie Bentley, the President of the Student Government Association, attended the meeting and already has ideas to help diversify SGA. He plans to activate a ‘diversity task force’ and will talk to the executive board about how they can form that.
After messages were written in chalk saying ‘Build a Wall’ and ‘Feminism is Cancer’, some students felt targeted and unsafe on campus. College group Latinx Unidos hosted a protest and rally for the marginalized students on campus. During the Before It Happens Here meeting, students asked for more actions to be taken on campus to help students of color feel safe and equal.
At the end of the meeting, President Bahls said he had plans to make a statement about diversity and more specifically the chalk writings on campus. Most people left feeling positive and thought that a lot was accomplished.