Spring Town Hall

Brian Nguyen News Contributor

Over one hundred students, faculty members and administrators gathered in the Memorial Union Horizon Room Wednesday for the second Oregon State University Town Hall to further discuss issues and initiatives relating to social justice.

The Town Hall focused on an online social justice training module, survey questions were asked and questions were addressed by concerned students and faculty members.

Survey questions relating to the online social justice training were given to attendees for the purpose of input and future iteration based on that for the online social justice training, according to Jennifer Dennis, Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School.

“It’s for incoming first-year and transfer students to have inclusive ideals within the community,” Dennis said.

In addition to students, Dennis will develop a plan to train faculty members as well.

After each module was presented, seven minutes were given for small group discussions to answer the survey question, which Dennis hoped to use to connect the people together.

“We’re hoping people will engage in deeper conversations,” Dennis said.

Feedback was written on a colored index cards that correlated with their modules and sets of questions. According to John Hough, marketing coordinator for the admission office, the questions were detailed.

“The outcome of this is to really engage in a conversation. We heard people want to get involved and so this is a way to create that,” Batista said. “I was really pleased with the students that spoke that brought out new issues which were really important.”

Despite it being descriptive, Hough, who was at both the winter and spring Town Halls, is unsure if the modules will help or not.

“It doesn’t hurt. It could help if implemented well. Our culture’s changing. People are becoming more desensitized,” Hough said. “It’s something the university can’t fix, it’s much broader than that. We can expose them to new ideas but we can’t change them.”

Amy Charron, the art director of university marketing has worked at OSU for 32 years and is excited to see the implemented changes.

“I’ve been here for a long time, and I haven’t seen this much attention brought to this subject, so it’s really refreshing,” Charron said.

During the open discussion and questions, when asked if there was any plans to lower tuition, it was revealed that no concrete plan is set out but, everyone’s involvement is wanted, according to Interim Chief Diversity Officer Angela Batista.

“For OSU and international student there’s really no magical bullet, but it’s not just about the faculty but the students too, so everyone needs to get involved,” Batista said.

According to Batista, she sees the Town Hall as being much needed and has resulted in a favorable outcome despite it being a relatively new approach in trying to immerse everyone together.

“It’s still all new as this is only our second time doing this, but it has achieved in getting the community together,” Batista said.

Before the meeting, based on the reception from the last Town Hall, Batista decided to meet with the individuals students who spoke to get a better understanding and insight. One of these students was Darren Nguyen, who is concerned with more accessibility for veterans.

“One student spoke about the experience of veterans so I met with him and we talked about how we could collaborate with his group,” Batista said.

The online form that was implemented from winter’s Town Hall meeting, found on OSU’s diversity website, has helped ensure quick and efficient response to problems that students have submitted, Batista said,.

“We’ve been really increasing our communication. We’ve responded to things on campus like the anti semitic flyers, the chalking and student needs. All this is done with our bias protocol,” Batista said.

OSU President Ed Ray spoke at the end of the event and was satisfied to see that everyone was working together.

“This was an great opportunity for small group discussion and to listen,” Ray said.

Moving forward over the break, the administration seeks to further follow their goals by continuing on reaching out to and meeting individually with the community. They will make decisions based on the feedback received and data collected from the Town Hall, and will continue outreach.

“In the summer one of the groups that I want to make sure I reach out is the Student Athletic club,” Batista said. “A lot of people are going to go home for break, but we’re not going to stop working. I’m really excited to look at all the information that we’ve gathered and have a chance to set some priorities and then involve the community again when everyone is back.”

Batista understands that there is much to be done and asks the community to endure the long task in our achievement in diversity at OSU.

“It takes time to build all these opportunities, but most importantly we need to be patient and engage” Batista said.

Batista closed the Town Hall by reminding those in the crowd that efforts are being made to move forward.

“Remember this is not perfect, its underdeveloped. You can come to us with any questions but you may not get the answer or change you want, but we will listen and consider the input,” Batista said. “We will continue working in the summer and look forward to continuing the conversation in the fall.”

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