At the Diversity, Inclusion & Access (DI&A) town hall on February 20, students and faculty expressed frustrations with the current community status on Mines campus. One student spoke out about the lack of affordable housing, making retention difficult for PhD students living off a stipend.
The town halls held over the last few weeks represent the one year mark since the beginning of DI&A at Mines. 40 strategic implementation plans were created across campus in each unit to address how the Mines community would address DI&A through its actions that year. All of them overlapped in their initiatives, showing that goals such as creating inclusive classrooms and valuing diversity in the classroom is of widespread importance.
Amy Landis, Civil and Environmental Engineering Faculty as well as the Presidential Fellow for DI&A, led the town halls. She encouraged attendees to participate in expressing their opinions, asking what the initiative meant to people at Mines. “I love that community is so big,” she said, because her goal for DI&A is to not just have one person in charge, but to have everyone across campus to contribute in their own way.
180 people helped to bring DI&A to where it is today, but it will be expanding its presence on campus as Mines commits to investing further resources. The initiatives it has supported include bias trainings, inclusion icebreakers, Girls Lead the Way, and community grants and awards to bring attention to more of campus.
On February 28, Dr. Jane Willenbring will be presenting on the MeTooSTEM movement in the MZ atrium at 10am, discussing her experiences and how she has created change in academia through a TitleIV lawsuit.
A student expressed their opinions about the current state of DI&A, saying that what they’re doing is great and necessary, but it is not where it needs to be yet. They noticed that in the future, students will be able to benefit from it, but the support for underrepresented students just isn’t enough at the moment. In order to see change, they said they need to see change in terms of funding for grad students and affordable housing, among other things.
Jill Robertson, Director of Financial Aid, also attended the town hall. She said that “It is our goal as an office … to assist admissions in recruitment of underrepresented students, and they need financial aid in order to do that.” In financial aid, they have been spreading the message of diversity and inclusion all along, as the first office on campus to have materials printed in spanish. “We as an office want students to feel welcomed in our space. … We want all of our students regardless of where they come from, what their backgrounds are, to feel heard and understood,” Robertson said.
The goal of DI&A is to have the campus community working toward the shared goals of an inclusive campus culture, together.
Cover Image: Amy Landis, Civil and Environmental Engineering Faculty and Presidential Fellow, speaks at the DI&A Town Hall of February 20th.