Student forums are invaluable to diversity initiatives

Student forums are invaluable to diversity initiatives (credit: Emily Giedzinski/) Student forums are invaluable to diversity initiatives (credit: Emily Giedzinski/)

The student diversity forums this week, hosted by senior global studies and Hispanic studies double major Juan Acosta, were a significant student-led effort to approach an important campus issue.

Acosta, after publishing an opinion piece in The Tartan expressing his concerns, planned the events in response to unsatisfactory diversity solutions proposed by University administration during Town Hall meetings for the new Strategic Plan. The focus of the forums was to broadly discuss diversity, its implications, and the ways in which Carnegie Mellon can be more diverse.

One of the keywords of the Strategic Plan is "transformative experience," but a transformative experience needs to include diversity. Racial diversity is limited at Carnegie Mellon, and students at the forum discussed diversity not only in terms of race, but also of socioeconomic background, family structure, sexual orientation, mental health, and educational history.

Individuals come to Carnegie Mellon to learn and grow, but that growth is stunted if they never meet a person with a background different from their own.

Faculty and staff, many from the Department of Student Affairs, attended the events and were encouraged to listen. Students discussed their experiences with diversity and proposed suggestions for the administration. The suggestions and concerns will be included in a letter to the university administration, in the hopes of adding strategies to the Strategic Plan for encouraging diversity .

These measures are not limited to recruitment or admissions; the forum also discussed measures that support students and encourage them to feel comfortable on campus. Suggestions included mental health support, disability resources, and changes in financial aid policy.

The Tartan supports the student diversity forums and believes that Carnegie Mellon students should make an effort to participate in the discussion. In particular, an outline of student suggestions will show administrators that students want to contribute to the effort and be part of the discussion about diversity on campus.