The Monroe lecture center was nearly filled by the time the program started. Provost Simmons kicked off the dialogue by stating her position in the issue of diversity and equality. She described some of her struggles as a female in the sciences and then went on to say that she has a son who is on the autism spectrum and a son who is gay; therefore she takes these issues very seriously. She herself was unaware of her own white privilege until she entered the workforce. I think many people in the crowd were relieved and excited that the provost was willing to say that without being probed, and we were off to a great start. She also stated that there will be a campus wide, “climate survey” on a whole host of these issues so that they can capture the feelings of more than just the people who attend these dialogues.
Students suggested a mandatory diversity class incorporated into the curriculum for everybody at Hofstra, which I thought was a good idea but I wish that they would have fleshed out exactly what they meant by diversity and the content of the course. Another idea the audience posed was to have a diversity fair for students to come together and learn about everybody’s backgrounds while sharing food and other pieces of their culture. The provost and the dean of students were both extremely receptive to these ideas and said that they hope to push them forward for the future. The highlight for me was when a student from Ghana stood up and asked why there are so few international students on campus, and why the few we have are all from the same places. The discussion of solutions to this problem concluded with an invitation for this student to be an international student ambassador should the time for such a program ever arise. His response was, “I would be down for it.” Overall, students were polite and asked good questions but we were all left with the feeling of, “What’s next?” and “Where do we go from here?” I think that the next forum should be called from “Dialogue to Action” and that the CCE would be a great addition to the conversation regarding how to become active on campus and in the community.