Apr 032003
 
Authors: Adrienne Hoenig

CSU kicked off its third annual Diversity Summit, “Cultural Consciousness: Collaboration and Commitment,” Thursday morning with keynote speaker Frances Kendall.

Kendall, a diversity and privilege consultant, presented a program called “Partnering With White People in the Workplace.” This year’s summit concludes CSU’s five-year diversity plan that began in 1998. There were no quantitative number goals set in the first five-year plan, said Alan Tucker, vice provost for Faculty Affairs and chairman of CSU’s Diversity Coordinating Council, so the question of success has some gray areas.

“We’ve increased the number of diverse students, faculty and staff,” Tucker said. “We’ve made considerable progress, there’s no question.”

The next plan, to conclude in 2008, is set to have more quantitative objectives.

Tucker said the plans were necessary to improve the system that CSU faculty operates within.

“It’s not about good people,” Tucker said. “It’s about systems that allow things to develop or not.”

Kendall said the design of CSU’s system is crucial to the end results CSU faculty is able to create

“Every system is exquisitely designed to get the results it gets,” Kendall said. “There are no accidents in a system.” She said CSU’s system is currently designed to help along those with white skin and hinder those with dark skin.

“What do (dark-skinned people) say and what do they not say to be able to be palatable to those of us who are white?” Kendall said. “It is only a token or sporadic move that allows a person of color to move up.” If people don’t feel confident in their position, Kendall said their performance could be drastically affected.

“When people don’t feel comfortable about 40 percent of their energy goes to managing that discomfort,” she said.

Mikiko Kumasaka, assistant director for Asian/Pacific American Student Services, said she doesn’t think there are enough diverse programs at CSU.

“I think it (CSU) needs more diversity,” Kumasaka said. “I think this (Diversity Summit) could help.”

The 2003 Diversity Summit will conclude Friday with opening remarks from CSU President Albert Yates. Rather than hearing a keynote speaker, the faculty will break into small groups to discuss topics ranging from social justice issues on campus to diversity curriculum initiatives.

“Tomorrow we’ll do more brainstorming ideas,” Tucker said. “We’re trying to come up with themes and goals for the new five-year diversity plan.”

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