The Richmond College Student Government Association and the Westhampton College Government Association held a workshop entitled Campus Climate: Student Solutions Workshop Thursday night at The Current to gather students’ ideas regarding racial issues at the University of Richmond.
The idea of allowing students to voice their thoughts through a workshop was inspired by a similar event held to address sexual assault issues on campus, said senior Mike Laposata, the president of RCSGA.
“Students really came together to formulate ideas to really present to the administration to fix some of the problems that they thought were happening,” Laposata said. “We thought, ‘Hey, you know, this is something that affects the whole community at large. Why don’t we all come together as students and think about some ideas and then present them to the administration?’”
The event was divided into three stages. In the first one, attendants wrote down their ideas on how different areas of the school can improve. The categories included social life, physical space, orientation, admissions, transparency and communications, administration, curriculum, faculty, campus support services staff, safety and residence life policies.
A meeting was held with multicultural student leaders and administrative officers prior to the event to decide what categories needed to be included in the workshop, Laposata said.
After writing down their ideas, attendants went to one of the topics and had a discussion aided by a facilitator about the solutions on the posters.
After the small group discussions, each facilitator shared the ideas from their categories with the rest of the attendants.
Greek life was a common subject in multiple categories. Some called for the restriction or outright ban of Greek life, while others highlighted the benefits of it and instead sought to improve diversity and inclusivity education for students who choose to go through recruitment.
Greater funding for multicultural groups was another major point of discussion within the social life category.
“I think that the school could do a lot more to be putting on inclusive social events, providing greater funding to multicultural groups,” said senior Liam McGrinder, a member of the RCSGA external affairs committee. “We’re looking into trying to get a lodge space for cultural groups and clubs to be able to throw parties.”
In the orientation, admissions and curriculum categories, two of the same topics arose: diversity education and ceasing the tokenization of students and faculty of color.
Better training for orientation advisers, requiring racial diversity wellness classes or first-year seminars and having more diverse faculty, especially in the Robins School of Business, were some of the ideas students wrote on the posters and discussed among their groups.
“We saw wellness and FYS as the two places where you could make the most changes because you can’t come with AP credits or anything to get rid of that, so you have to take those,” said sophomore Jason Cai, a facilitator. “That would encourage people to learn more about diversity.”
WCGA president Lindsey Paul, a senior, and Laposata will write a report based on the feedback provided by students for the administration.
“It’s going to be an ongoing conversation. The administration is going to be able to see what we have going on,” Paul said. “We’re going to try to work really efficiently and quickly, and we’re also going to try and make sure that all voices are included, even those that weren’t in this room.”
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