Students and administration discuss issues
The Santa Clara
February 28, 2019
The room was tense as students listened to administrators’ updates about campus life and then voiced their own concerns.
The Diversity and Inclusion Forum took place on Feb. 20 in the de Saisset Museum auditorium.
It was co-hosted by the university and the Student Council on Inclusive Excellence.
The evening consisted of of short presentations from various groups on campus that updated students on initiatives and project that intend to make Santa Clara a more diverse and inclusive place.
The topics discussed included undergraduate admissions, retention data, wellness initiatives, next steps following the Campus Climate Survey and the #BroncoPosi movement.
Time was allotted at the end for questions and discussion from the audience.
The goal of the event was to provide the university administrators the opportunity to engage with students and ask them important questions about the current campus climate surrounding diversity and social justice issues.
The first presentation was from undergraduate admission officers, who presented a profile of the early admission class of 2019-20.
They announced an increase in the number of early applications received, as well as an increase in the overall academic achievements of the class.
The number of admitted students of color also increased by 8.4 percent.
Paola Garcia-Vega, assistant director of admissions, took the opportunity to promote “Unity Night,” a program that brings admitted students of color to campus for a day.
She encouraged students to RSVP as ambassadors and informed students that in previous years, 75 percent of attendees committed to Santa Clara.
Provost Dennis Jacobs, vice president for academic affairs, presented retention figures for students after their first year on campus. Santa Clara has an average 95 percent retention rate and is currently tied for the second- highest retention rate with Boston College among Jesuit schools in the United States.
“We can always continue to do better,” Jacobs said. “But these are really good metrics for students to say when they come here that this is a place where they can thrive and succeed.”
The following presentations focused on increasing the quality of student life on campus with presentations from the Cowell Center, the Wellness Center and the Education for Violence Prevention group.
Jill Rovarious, director of the Cowell Center, introduced efforts the health center is making to help students handle issues like stress and anxiety.
She discussed the diverse group of counselors available to students as well as the support group for women of color launched this year in conjunction with the group Together for Ladies of Color.
Tiger Simpson, the assistant director of the Wellness Center, discussed the center’s goals which include building bridges with off-campus communities and working with students in off-campus housing, neighborhood units and Greek life.
Students from the Violence Prevention Program also presented and discussed their membership growth as well as efforts they have made on campus including requiring all first-years to go through the One-Love Escalation Workshop during orientation.
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Elsa Chen informed students about campus initiatives.
Following the results of the Campus Climate Survey, various groups on campus established a list of 10 priorities to address. Each priority has a specific goal, as well as coordinators to manage them.
Following the updates about changes and improvements being made across campus, students had questions regarding other issues they felt the university had failed to address.
Students had the option to submit questions anonymously with note cards throughout the event.
However, due to time constraints, only a few questions were actually answered directly by administrators that night.
The issues brought up included how Santa Clara would actively work to make the campus welcoming and open to Native Americans and indigenous people, given the land the university currently occupies once belonged to the Ohlone tribe.
The answer came from university President Michael Engh, S.J., who said Santa Clara is currently forming a working group of staff, students and members of the Ohlone tribe to address the issue of recognizing the people and their tribe.
Another issue students raised concerned the Associated Student Government (ASG)’s approval of a pro-Israel club, Students Supporting Israel.
The question described the club as purely political and asked how this group was allowed on campus and given RSO status.
Members of ASG in the audience responded by saying that senators are expected to do research and their due diligence before voting to approve a club’s RSO status.
Senate Chair Alex Perlman noted that ASG meetings are video recorded as well as transcribed and students are able to view the discussion senators had during the meeting as well as each senator’s individual vote.
Questions were also asked regarding Bon Appetit and the treatment of the workers. Robin Reynolds, associate vice president of Auxiliary Services, informed students that multiple meetings have been held with workers of Bon Appetit.
-“My staff regularly meets with Bon Appetit,” Reynolds said. “Both the management group that works here on campus, as well as the corporate folks that work regionally and nationally. We’re also touching base with them on issues [raised] by the Labor Action Committee and we meet with them regularly as well to hear the concerns that workers feel comfortable going to them with.”
Annalicia Anaya, director of the Multicultural Center, believes that events such as the Diversity and Inclusion Forum are important because they discuss issues that are not always priorities.
“Having a space where students and other SCU stakeholders can vocalize issues or questions they have about D&I is important in ensuring we are continually progressing forward,” Ananya said. “It is immensely dangerous to ever believe that we have solved the issue of diversity. It needs to be an ongoing conversation.”
Contact Emma Pollans at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.