President’s Council on Cultural Diversity 11/28/07
Presiding: K Johnson Attendees: P Cronin, S Dixon, D Dobbins, L Harris, D Harley, M Jordan, K King, T
Lura, H Masters, J Mwinyelle, P Robertson, P Sheets Special Guests: Ash-Lee Henderson and Philippa Lahai-
Swaray, student representatives from Black Student Affairs Notes: Darla Alford
I Welcome and Approval of Minutes [K Johnson]
A Special Guests, Ash-Lee Henderson and Philippa Lahai-Swaray, representatives from Black Student
Affairs, came to speak with the Council about the racial climate on campus.
B Minutes from 10-24-07 meeting – D Harley, 1st, H Masters, 2nd, approved.
II Diversity Conference [K Johnson]
Target Date: January 25-26, 2008
-Friday 25th: Dinner from 6pm-9pm with guest speaker. All deans have been invited to the Friday
night dinner during the Diversity Conference.
-Saturday, 26th: Continental breakfast at 9am with door prizes; discussion time; break out sessions;
lunch; global session; break out session; brief closing session.
B An invitation has been generated for select individuals that would be interested in diversity infusion
so that they will be catalysts for others on campus. The conference will be an annual event.
C The conference will address diversity as it relates to curriculum and provide information on how to
measure diversity efforts for FAP, FAR, FAE and accreditation standards.
D L Harris went to the MTSU Diversity Conference this year. She stated that they had wonderful
speakers and resources available. L Harris to meet with K Johnson to provide information.
IV Diversity Infusion into the Curriculum
A P Robertson stated that the college of education asked faculty to document diversity efforts in the
FAR; some faculty wrote very detailed information and other faculty wrote very little.
B M Jordan asked P Robertson to have Hal Knight put Diversity Infusion on the agenda for the next
Academic Council meeting.
V Patricia Robertson Diversity Leadership Award [P Sheets]
A Award has been given to one faculty/staff member and one student for four years. P Robertson
received the first award.
B An email is sent out every year to staff, faculty and students for nominations; a group of students
chooses the faculty/staff recipient and group of faculty/staff members choose a student recipient. This
year, we are having a reception to honor the recipients from 2006 and 2007 on November 29, 2007 –
3:30-5:00 at Reece Museum on 11-29-07.
VI Report from Black Affairs Student Representatives
A Ash-Lee Henderson, President of Black Affairs: The Jena-Six Rally brought up a lot of discussion
which motivated the students to initiate a dialogue with the student body. Black History jeopardy
during Buc Bash is an example of how Black Affairs is trying to increase awareness. Spike Lee is
scheduled to come Spring 2008. Black Affairs also trying to bring Tim Wise – white anti-racist, who
talks about privilege. Also want to bring Afeni Shakur – Tupak Shakur’s mother (rapper, killed by
someone never prosecuted; wrote socially conscious music about issues that directly affect the black
community). Students are very concerned about missing opportunities for dialogue with students
during key events on campus, such as the visit from Maya Angelou, and the Ludacris concert. Ash-
Lee stated that forums and dialogues with faculty, staff, and students will heighten awareness for race
relations on campus.
B M Jordan stated that opportunities are missed because there is no one in charge of coordinating and
communicating these events. She said that she was put in the position of taking the lead in the
meeting between White Affairs and the Black Affairs, even though she is not in Student Affairs.
C A Henderson stated that students are having the dialogue whether faculty/staff are involved or not;
progressive organizations and non-progressive organizations have discussed having a teach-in on their
D T Lura stated that we should take the opportunity to have both controlled discussions and open
discussions for students whenever a nationally known person comes to campus. Faculty members and
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administrators can provide financial support for these activities.
E P Lahai-Swaray asked whether there were leadership training opportunities for students. D Harley
stated that there is a whole department dedicated for leadership training. There is also a Leadership
minor available. A Henderson recommended LeaderShape for training students to lead with integrity.
L Harris mentioned that the Black Affairs workbook devotes 2 pages to information about student
leadership. M Jordan expressed concern that we are not adequately preparing students for leadership
roles. She stated that she would like to see more students moving into student government leadership
positions, etc. A Henderson stated that every member of the Black Affairs executive board is also
involved in leadership in other organizations; she said that it takes time to move students into
leadership positions. P Lahai-Swaray stated that we need to get a lot of other students involved of
other ethnicities and races to be involved together on organizations. D Harley stated that there is an
enormous set of opportunities and national resources available to students.
F A Henderson stated that LGBT students feel like there are very few classes that address students like
them. They want to learn about their own culture. P Robertson stated that LGBT students are in
classes that diminish the existence of LGBT by leaving it out of the classroom. A Henderson stated
that domestic violence toward women, women’s issues are being addressed in English department;
but in general, students feel like they are learning the status quo, instead of learning about what about
is going on in the world. She said that, unless students specifically cater their courses toward
diversity, the students aren’t getting it. P Lahai-Swaray stated that students lack exposure; she had a
lot of exposure to all cultures in Britain. When she came here, it was a culture shock because she had
expectations put on her because she is black. She also stated that students should be encouraged to be
involved in international study. L Harris stated that black history means more to black students in
many cases than it does to white students. She also stated that she was told, “you are the white-est
black person I have ever met” – there are definite ideas about what black and white means.
G Additional council discussion centered around compartmentalization and segregation on campus and
the role that fear and stereotyping plays in exacerbating the problem. For instance, many people seem
to have difficulty understanding that they can be involved in more organizations than their usual ones:
men are encouraged to attend Women’s Health Luncheons, and white students can be involved in
Black Student Affairs, etc.
H M Jordan suggested that A Henderson and P Lahai-Swaray participate in meetings with upper-level
administrators (such as in President’s Council, etc.) about the students’ perspective regarding
diversity issues on campus. J Mwinyelle, H Masters and others suggested that representatives from
other student groups also be involved - especially the Greek organizations.
I K Karen suggested that a Podcast or a blog would be another way to open dialogue and increase
J K Johnson stated that students may not really understand how much they need diversity training and
exposure and that we do a disservice by not showing them diversity and preparing them for going into
the work world. P Robertson stated that we are back to the fact that our campus is not preparing our
students to be culturally competent when they leave this campus.
L M Jordan stated that it is hard to find students who are willing to go and do things – to be open to
opportunities for leadership experiences (like LeaderShape). A Henderson said that she is often the
only one who speaks out when a professor asks, “What do you think?”; she said that she will always
stand up, but she doesn’t feel that it is always her responsibility to stand up alone. She stated that 1)
they are planning a “teach-in” for students 2) she has been in contact with Progressive organizations
at UTK 3) she would like to work with faculty/staff on getting things done.
V Closing Comments/Announcements
A K Johnson stated that A Henderson and P Lahai-Swaray provided important insight into the student
perspective and of the dire need for diversity awareness/training for students – it is a great opportunity
to move forward and accomplish things as a council.
B H Parker is making available information about “My Children, My Africa” (see attached).
NEXT MEETING: TBD
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