In our last issue, we explored how unjust it is that Elmhurst University has three — which we now know is four — students running the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI). With this issue, we ran a story featuring the student directors of the ODI and how being student directors have been.
As information was being gathered for our reports, one of our calls to action in our last editorial, asking for transparency from the administration, was answered — somewhat.
In a campuswide email on Sept. 22, President Troy VanAken officially announced an update on the search for an inaugural vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This gesture, along with the invite to listen in on information sessions with four candidates, is a start, but why mention it now?
While this addition of a cabinet-level position being created for DEI is a milestone for EU, the timing of the announcement during the 150th homecoming week feels like a calculated marketing tactic.
However, credit will be given where it is due. The administration will be allowing members of the campus community to meet the four candidates is a positive step toward involving students in a process that will ultimately impact the resources underrepresented students have on campus.
It is somewhat calming to know the VP of DEI will be the one overseeing the hiring process for the new director of diversity and inclusion, Robinson’s former position.
Allowing somebody who, more likely than not, has experience working in diversity and inclusion is a good step because they will know what to look for in a candidate for a director.
These upsides, however, do not negate the mystery surrounding the future of the ODI until now, especially since there is no physical office space for diversity and inclusion on campus.
Where will the office for the VP be located? Will it be accessible to student leaders on campus seeking a space on campus? Will there be another ODI?
In our feature, one of the student workers reveals they attempted to advocate to keep Robinson’s office, but it was given to a graduate assistant. When a new director comes around, will they kick the graduate assistant out or make space elsewhere on campus for an office solely dedicated to diversity and inclusion?
In an ideal world, the best approach to handling Robinson’s departure would be to keep the student directors in their position and find an interim director of diversity and inclusion. They could work alongside students until a VP of DEI is hired, who would, in turn, hire a new full-time director.
Doing so would ensure the students are being supported by EU and not carrying another load of responsibility they previously did not have to deal with on top of being full-time students.