Summer Diversity Internship
University of Oregon
" ‘Who are our students and who should they be?’ goes to the heart of
THE ISSUE AT HAND:
My specific charge for this internship was to research possible administrative reorganization options to ensure that the needs of the University Community are best being served. Furthermore, my research and recommendations are also meant to ensure that the needs of the "diversity" spoken of at the steering committee meetings and in press releases also get met.
The reasons are many as to why it is extremely important to address this specific aspect of this very broad issue of diversity. First of all, the University of Oregon (UO) is a complex system of interactive, yet independent agents, thus "fixing" one part of the component while ignoring or not giving as much attention to another part will in the end, be counterproductive to the desired progress. Essentially, as a community we must critically inspect every level of operation at the UO in order to ensure success in our development.
Secondly, change/development at the ‘lower’ or other levels of operation will work best if this progress is fundamentally consistent with the philosophy of those who enact and fund the overall functions at the University of Oregon. Not to imply that such is not the case now, but it is clear (following the events that occurred in Johnson Hall in May of 1999) that improvement is necessary and possible. A vital facet of this improvement is the connection or – depending on how you look at it – the reconnection of those who fall under different sides of the university’s organizational chart. "Student life" does not consist of clear divisions between academic and social affairs. Therefore, it seemed very necessary to us students to address this reality in terms of organizational function. As witnessed in the protests last spring there did not appear to be an administrative point person to address the particular concerns of the student protesters, thus the situation was handled, but in a rather awkward manner. This fact not only frustrated us, but again proved as a symbolic indicator of what we saw as our "place on the totem pole" here at the University of Oregon.
My suggestions will be presented in two segments: long term recommendations and practical recommendations. Respectively speaking the first section will be addressing the institutionalization of the following positions:
The second section will consist of issues concerning:
I spent many hours researching the University of Oregon’s web site to look over such documents as the Process for Change as well as other school’s web-site’s. In addition, many hours were spent interviewing and conversing with a wide variety of students, faculty, staff, and administration. I also made sure to reference the prior works of people and committees who have convened in the past to deal with similar issues, such as The Task Force for Racial Diversity, which was worked on and labored over and then presented this time three years ago… how ironic.
Resources at University of Oregon I have been utilizing:
Gwen Tisdadt – Counseling Center
Dan Williams – Vice President of Administrative Affairs
Jan Oliver – Assistant Vice President for Institutional Affairs and Administration
Dave Hubin – Executive Assistant President, Office of the President
Laura Blake Jones – Acting Dean, Office of Student Life
John Moseley – Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Jiannbin "J" Shaio – Assistant Professor, Sociology
Philip Romero – Dean, Business School
Robert Melnick – Dean AAA
Wylie Chen – ASUO President
Mia Tuan – Assistant Professor, Sociology
Carla Gary – Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs
Consuela Zumwalt – Advisor, Office of Multicultural Affairs
Troy Franklin – Assistant Dean of Student Life,
James Florendo – Advisor, Office of Multicultural Affairs
Stephanie Carnahan – Director, LGBT Education and Support Services, Student Life
Magid Shirzadegan – Assistant Director, Office of International Education and Exchange
Julie Novkov – Assistant Professor, Political Science
Diversity Interns – the Bomb group of student activists
Task Force on Racial Diversity Report
University Diversity Proposal
Process for Change Summaries
External sources I have been utilizing:
Larry Roper – Oregon State University
Ron Coleman – University of Utah
Eden Inoway-Ronnie – University of Wisconson
University of Colorado at Boulder – www.colorado.edu
Brown University – Third World Center
Dorthy Simpson-Taylor – Indiana State University
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) – www.naspa.org
"Financial concerns should not be given first priority; rather ideas that could transform the university – we can hope the money would follow. While we must create financial stability for our endeavors, that stability nevertheless is not the end in itself. We need to make certain that our efforts or directed at the kind of university needed and valued by the State and our larger communities and one worthy of the faculty and students we have and wish to recruit."
Long Term Goals:
Brief History: Only 5 or 6 years ago a position similar to the one we are suggesting did exist and it was called Vice Provost for Academic Support and Student Services. Sufficient reasons regarding why the position was terminated have been provided to me by a multitude of credible sources including President Frohnmeyer, Provost Moseley and Dan Williams. However, I would again suggest that developing a position where the person has a more autonomous voice in which to advocate for students and administration is of great value to all persons at the University of Oregon.
Please refer to page 16 to see how the previous vice provost position was integrated into the university. When this position was terminated services that once operated under the same person and in a more uniform setting were split up between the Vice President for Administration and the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Reinstating or reconsidering such a position would "remove some of the fragmented and convoluted arrangements inherent in the current system." For example, dividing offices such as Student Life and Multicultural Affairs can create a serious problem when these two student centered offices must work together (as they often do) but need to get things approved by two different Vice Presidents. It is not that in the present system the approval or dialogue that needs to happen does not materialize at some stage in the game (to some degree, for quite a few really competent people do work in both offices). But why not make the situation more efficient from the star? A Vice President for student affairs would more than likely allow for "faster resolution of student concerns and create more effective communication across campus."&
As it stands now, the new AVP for Student Affairs will only be working under the Vice President for Administration, and thus will be working predominantly with the offices that fall under this VP’s side of the chart.
I did not write up a job description for this person for one does currently exist on this campus. We need only refer back to the former job description for the Vice President for Academic Support and Student Affairs as starting block from which to mold a new and improved position. Furthermore, other universities do have administrative positions similar to the one we are suggesting. For instance, Western Oregon (Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management), and the University of Colorado – Boulder (Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs), thus when the time comes to write up the job description there will be plenty of examples to draw from.
The timeline in which I think this position could and should be created is between 2 and 3 years. In the mean time I have some other suggestions…
I would now like to point out that "title" is the least of our worries so please note that this is a flexible aspect. What is most important is the role this person plays at the University of Oregon.
Brief History: This is also not the first time it has been suggested that such a position be created. When a similar position was suggested in the Task Force for Racial Diversity (TFRD) recommendations it was referred to the President’s Council on Race to take up, for understandably there was not enough time to research this suggestion in addition to their other work (please refer to pages 17 & 18). As far as I know the President’s Council on Race has not looked, collectively, into further achieving the realization of such a great addition to our campus. The main reason this position continues to be suggested is because, as previously stated, it is so necessary.
Furthermore, in developing such a position the UO would not be making any sort of groundbreaking progress, for other schools have already taken the lead. A great many university’s across the land have provided their students with a resource analogous to an AVP for Diversity. For example, Indiana State University has a Special Assistant to the President for Ethnic Diversity. Although we would not like to focus solely on ethnic diversity here, the fact still remains that such a specific position exists and that is what counts. This woman, Dorothy Simpson Taylor, develops conferences and faculty training etc (please refer to Spencer Hamlin’s report for more detail). How exciting and invigorating to find out that in addition to their other positions aimed at catering to specific groups there is also someone who oversees the entire issue at Indiana State, AND has the ear of the President. In another example, the University of Utah also employs a similar position. Refer to the job description of their Associate Vice-Provost for Diversity on page 19.
Conversely, what did get developed, as a direct result of a TFRD recommendation was the Assistant Dean of Student Life for Multicultural Affairs. I am under the impression that because such a position now exists people mistakenly assume that additional support is not necessary. In addition, some in upper administration often point to the existence of the Office of Multicultural Affairs as the other ‘point person’ for dealing with diversity issues. In response I would like to say that this offices plate is already full, and furthermore, I must reemphasize our intent is inclusion and our efforts expand beyond the breadth of just ethnic diversity.
Also, I have spoken to many of those whose positions/jobs would be directly affected by the creation of such a position, and none exhibited characteristics of being territorial. They all wanted what is best for the students, the UO and the community at large. Thus, the increased communication and dialogue that will be facilitated as a result of the implementation of an AVP of Diversity as well as the greater organization and attention that will be given to the issue of diversity are welcomed additions.
In terms of a timeline, I believe this position could and should
be developed by the end of the 1999-2000 school year. Since there will
already a new AVP of Student Affairs in place, such an addition will compliment
the new structure. Finally I would highly recommend that the search for
the person to fill this position be an External Search and that
the salary be a Competitive Wage. I believe that we may very well
end up hiring one of "our own", but it does feel better knowing all options
were explored for such an important position.
As a student involved in campus events to one degree or another since I transferred here, I have come to realize that the life of a "student activist" or "student leader" is not simple. My friends and myself have missed (skipped) many a classes and much socialization hours in pursuit of the "greater good". No amount of money could replace the lessons I have learned or the great friends I have made as a result of my efforts, and I would never trade my experiences for the world. BUT I KNOW things could have and would have gone a lot smoother and less stressfully had we a full time director to tend to not only the logistical concerns of the MCC but also the emotional concerns of MCC members. We are students taking full loads and putting in countless hours of work for our causes. Had we a director maybe we could have learned from this person better ways to manage our time, or had them fill in for us at one of the many meeting we needed to and wanted to attend. There are endless reasons why such a position should be funded.
Speaking of funding, I would suggest half student funding and half administrative funding of the position, this way the person could be connected to both sides and hopefully both parties could forge a strong relationship with the person. I think that trust is the central issue here and if this person were entirely funded by the students or by administration the other side may feel a little skeptical in allowing this person access to their world. However, not all people will agree with this suggestion so I encourage everyone to weigh the pros and cons of the various funding models. Ultimately I would say it is the student’s call though, for this person will be initially housed out of the MCC
What I have provided is a skeleton job description for MCC Director. The basics have been accounted for, but the incorporation of the MCC bylaws for example has yet to happen. Also there has been little student or administrative input, so I suggest that once the folks involved with the MCC have made their improvements, this new and improved document should be circulated among the administrative halls.
The timeline for this position should be ASAP,
I would love to see it up and running by Winter Term – and it is possible,
but realistically it may actually not become institutionalized until Spring.
The director of the MCC is a full-time, 12-month, non-tenured faculty position. The director serves as an advocate and educator on issues pertinent to students of color and other traditionally underrepresented communities that attend the University of Oregon. The director administers the MCC. Therefore, this person supervises (if necessary) the initiation and implementation of educational programs; responds – with the help of student coordinators – to program and service requests, and ideas from students and student groups outside the MCC; provides direct service to students, faculty, staff and community members; and works to promote the best possible working environment for the above mentioned students at the U of O.
As an ASUO program, the MCC director will report directly to the ASUO President on matters of program philosophy, goals and objectives (?). In addition, the MCC director will also be responsible to and work closely with the MCC Board, student staff and volunteers to implement program goals. The Office of Student Life, spear-headed by the Assoc. Dean of Multicultural Affairs (Troy), will provide program and resource advising to the director, while the Assoc. Director of Erb Memorial Union (EMU) will advise for all personal matters (?). The director will be evaluated annually by the Assoc. Dean of Student Life, the MCC Board (in conjunction with the outgoing student union directors), the Assoc. Director of the EMU, as well as the ASUO President.
The Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO) fund the
Multicultural Center (MCC). The MCC requires annual allocation of student
funds and the position of director will be partially funded by student
fees and partially funded by university administration. The salary for
this position is TBA.
My first suggestion is simple yet I believe will be difficult to accomplish. I would like to see this person be under the charge of both the VP for Administration and VP for Academic Affairs. In the present AVP for Student Affairs job description this person will presently only be asked to interact with those offices that are also only under the VP for Administration. How else though would a person who is entrusted to be most closely connected to student affairs going to have access to all aspects of student life if they are not required or encouraged by way of a job description to bridge the obvious gaps of communication and cohesion that exist in our present structural model? Of course the person who eventually fills the position will ultimately be responsible for either going above and beyond the actual call of duty or not, so it is possible this may be a moot point, but it is still important to see this new component in writing
On pages 21&22 is another skeleton outline of what I would call an evaluation process of the new AVP for Student Affairs. Whoever ends up with this job should take this foundation and add their own flavor and then seek the advisement of those who they will be working with on a regular basis – in an effort to make their evaluation complete. In addition, those folks involved in the Student Affairs Council (which I will be speaking about next), should first and foremost dialogue about the outcomes they would like to see as a result of the institutionalization of this position. Included in this should most definitely be a timeline for their evaluations of the new AVP for if it is left undefined the door is then left open for little or no follow through.
Some criticism of this idea pertains to the delicate nature of what is sure to be discussed in these meetings. Highly confidential issues and subjects are discussed, but I assure you that it is possible to find 3-5 students who are mature and responsible enough to take this role seriously and will not violate the trust of the group. Furthermore, examples can be found across campus where students are put in the position of confidentiality and they consistently succeed in their jobs. For example, students who work at the Women’s Center are entrusted with such responsibility, students who work with the Designated Driver Shuttle are also expected to respect the privacy of its patrons, and lastly students involved in the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) are required to be mature and sensitive to the issues being discussed and they do it very well.
Another suggestion concerning this Council is that those who organize it seek out the involvement of those who do not directly fall under the charge of the VP for Administration. I know for example that Dean Melnick of AAA is interested and willing to get involved in the group. Also discussing student services would not be complete without the involvement of offices such as OMA and Disability Services. Furthermore, including some faculty in the group to get their perspective is also advised.
Lastly, I would again suggest to the Council members (whoever they may be) that they first and foremost come up with a list of expected outcomes as a sort of guiding tool to make their role as effective and functional as possible.
Evaluating the Success of the
New Infrastructure Changes
Associate Vice President of Student Affairs/Chief Student Affairs Officer:
This position is new to the University and will be working directly under Vice President Dan Williams. The success of this position will be hard to gauge at first for, besides any major flare-ups (that rarely occur), making tangible the student experience specifically in relationship to diversity issues will be difficult to define. Our evaluation therefore will be based on merits that may seem rather vague to the uninvolved eye, but often times this moment of ambiguity is the one time a student can most accurately put his or her finger on what is going "right" or "wrong". The means of evaluation could/should be as follows:
Student Affairs Council:
In all this experience has been a blast. I have connected with some great individuals and have learned much more than I expected. By the mere fact that this work needed to be done implies there is a lot further we need to go here at the University of Oregon.
I implore all individuals and groups to seek active participation in the processes currently happening here to ensure that as many voices as possible will be heard. Participation of course does not ensure being heard, but you never know and doing something is better than doing nothing.
I would particularly like to point out that the AVP for Diversity is a good place to start if the school is looking for a place to begin laying the ground work for the "Diversity Research Institute". As Spencer pointed out, when foundations look to give grants they like to see that work is in progress and that the goal being espoused is more than a pipe dream.
Finally I would like to say that the work the 10 of us did over this summer, as well as the work many students have been doing since they got to the UO is another example of how far we still have to go at the University of Oregon. We should not be the leaders of this change. Instead we should all be partners in the growth and development of our school, but it is a sad reality that what we got accomplished this summer would not have happened if we had not protested and caused a media frenzy by getting arrested. And I don’t know what will come of our internships and of our efforts, but I also do not think we students should still have to convince the powers that be that this is a worthwhile project. It is not about money – us interns have been working for "change" for little or no money prior to our work this summer - but isn’t it a shame that in addition to paying to attend the UO we also have to lead the struggle for change and development in order to make our time here as positive as possible?
Personally I feel that many in administration use our efforts in our various student leadership capacities and the results that come of our work to recruit and promote the UO – which is fine. But it is insulting that often they turn to us and say ‘prove to us this needs to continue or worthwhile’. With respect to this project, obviously greater support of this project is necessary for the holistic change that needs to happen to all of us is still in the works and if students don’t keep pushing the envelope who will?