By Whitney Wyche || Contributing Writer
Tonight I spoke with the Provost and Dean of Faculty, Cameron Wesson, about what can be done to work with administration on the issues being protested. While the protests initially started because multiple students wore clothing that portray ethnic stereotypes as Halloween costumes, the protests are about the much larger issue of the feeling of the lack of administrative action to address racist incidents on campus.
I talked to him about the need for transparency and open communication between students and administration. After speaking with him, it was clear to me that he genuinely wants to help students. This was also shown by the act of him spending at least 10 hours in Dining Hall listening and talking to students. He genuinely wants to know how to help students and he empathizes with the issues being protested and the need for change.
He talked about actions already being taken by admin to address racism from an administrative perspective. For example, he said admin has been in the process of hiring a person to address racial incidents. (I don’t remember the specifics about this position).
Administration is on the same side as students, but there is a lack of communication between these two groups. Students do not know what specifically admin is/has done to address racial issues. Admin does not know what specifically students need/want as support from administration.
I proposed the idea for a student to work in Old Main to bridge the communication gap between students and admin.
The Provost agreed that student involvement in administration is a good idea. He said it can be done quickly. He said it is possible to give student(s) an hourly rate, a desk (potentially in the Provost Office), and involvement with administration meetings not pertaining to confidential information (such as hiring process and so forth).
The only question he had is how to choose student(s) for this position. Would the student(s) be elected by the student body? By F&M Diplomatic Congress?
Cameron Wesson will be in Dhall again this Thursday and Friday to listen and speak with students again. We agreed this is a good time to further discuss how to implement a position for student(s) in administration.
Overall, this discussion gave me a much better understanding of the administrative perspective. I am very hopeful for the future of the movement to address racism and I believe we are moving in the right direction. Small actions make big differences. I believe that if we continue to have open discussions about difficult issues, to empathize with those who are hurting, to strive for positive progress, we create a better environment for ourselves and those around us.
First-year Whitney Wyche is a Contributing Writer. Her email is email@example.com.