The drive to make CSU a more diverse campus has made its mark in two initiatives being introduced by the Associated Students of CSU.
The proposed bills come at a time when President Larry Penley has been working hard to promote his diversity plan.
Both initiatives were introduced for review Wednesday and would require both the ASCSU Cabinet and all senators to attend more diversity-related programs and events.
Andrew Angely, assistant director for ASCSU’s Diversity and Outreach department, says the initiatives come at a time when the CSU administration is pushing two strategic plans, both holding diversity as a key element.
“President Penley definitely has diversity on his mind,” Angely said. “(Diversity) is something that has been on our mind the entire semester. The reason it is coming out now is because it can be enforced for the spring semester if it passes.”
ASCSU President Jason Green and Vice President Sadie Conrad campaigned on a platform to increase unity on campus and to create more diversity awareness last year. Both initiatives are intended to reinforce Green and Conrad’s goal.
Cabinet members are already required to attend four student organization programs, but Bill 3605 would require most cabinet members – comprised mostly of directors and assistant directors – to attend two of those directly related to diversity or awareness.
And if passed, Resolution 3608 would require all active senators to devote half of their programming attendance to diversity.
“The goal is to essentially get our members out to these programs to build a relationship with programs that deal with diversity issues,” Angely said.
Trevor Trout, co-sponsor of the initiatives, calls diversity an essential part to a distinctive, inclusive university.
“The culture of diversity associated with President Penley is a necessary aspect of higher education in order for (CSU) to remain competitive,” Trout said.
Penley has maintained diversity as a top goal for his tenure at CSU and beyond.
In November, Penley introduced what he called the five-year “stretch” plan, calling for the addition of 450 faculty members, increasing student enrollment by 20 percent and creating a student body that represents the changing demographics in Colorado, keeping diversity at the forefront.
In addition to diversity training, CSU could use the proposed $100 million increase in the current $800 million budget toward minority scholarships and recruitment efforts. This five-year plan corresponds with a broader CSU Strategic Plan for 2006-2015.
“The best ideas emerge when we surround ourselves with people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives,” Penley said in a statement. “The benefits derived from an educational environment that includes individuals reflective of all aspects of our society cannot be overstated.”
Another co-sponsor of the initiative, Reyna Anaya, says the administration should look at diversity not as a checklist, but as second nature. For example, Anaya sees CSU’s annual Diversity Conference as something the administration just checks off but fails to really deliver.
“There needs to be a realization that there is need for improvement with diversity,” Anaya said. “Administration is trying, but then they are not.”
Angely says there is always room for improvement, considering about 88 percent of students on campus are white. Within the past 10 years that number has only dropped less than 2 percent.
“I don’t think we are at the place we need to be but the steps we are taking are moving in a positive way,” Angely said. “There is never a bad time to take a step in the right direction.”
Staff writer James Baetke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.