The Collegian
Wednesday, April 14, 2021

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Senior forms diversity coalition for Robins School of Business

<p>The rotunda in the Robin's School of Business</p>

The rotunda in the Robin's School of Business

The Robins Diversity Coalition, created by senior John Cruz, begins its first semester at the University of Richmond in effort to provide a network for underrepresented groups in the Robins School of Business. 

"In an effort to strengthen the community for [Black, Indigenous and People of Color] and allies in [Robins School of Business], the organization will engage in academic and professional events such as study group sessions, networking opportunities and employer presentations from nearby companies," according to a post on the coalition's Instagram account. 

The coalition had its first meeting on Jan. 27, via Zoom, and Mickey Quiñones, dean of the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, attended in support and gave the opening remarks.  The meeting was open to everyone, and about 18-20 students and four faculty members attended, Cruz said. 

The club was supposed to launch in Fall 2020, but was delayed because of the University of Richmond's COVID-19 restrictions on forming new clubs, Cruz said. 

"I want to get the momentum going, so by fall of next year the formal process of getting recognized can happen," he said. 

Quiñones is excited about the club and hopes it leads to a broader cultural change in the business school where everyone can feel comfortable, he said. 

"The Robins Diversity Coalition is a group that was started to create a welcoming environment in a place where students of traditionally underrepresented groups can feel welcome, share ideas and work together," Quiñones said. "Historically, there's been a sense that the Robins School is viewed as not necessarily a welcoming and friendly place, and that kills me as a dean because I want students to make a decision about whether or not they want to study business based on their interest in the subject, not whether they think they belong in a particular school." 

Quiñones, who has been the business school dean since fall 2019, previously worked as department chair at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business. 

Cruz is from Dallas and was in the process of transferring to SMU for his junior year, partially because of his unhappiness in the business school, when he heard that Quiñones was coming to UR, he said. 

"I was like, 'Oh, my God.' To me, it was a sign," Cruz said. "If SMU is coming to Richmond, that means I have to stay." 

Cruz met with Quiñones in his SMU office during the summer of 2019 to discuss the issues of division in the Robins School of Business. 

"We talked about what we need to do in order to make the school a more inviting place and making sure that everyone felt like they had connections to other people," Quiñones said. "I think part of the issue is that there are a lot of groups that already kind of know each other. So when they come to the business school, there's already ready-made pockets of friends." 

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Sophomore Yarimar Correa attended the Jan. 27 meeting. She decided to join the coalition after frustrations with other RSB organizations, particularly after the abolish Greek life movement at UR and the Black Lives Matter movement, she said. 

“I really wanted to join [the coalition] and a lot of my friends wanted to join it mainly because we've had bad experiences with organizations in the B-school where they claim that they want to change," she said. "Especially after this summer, everybody said that they were going to change, but after the first semester we saw that nothing was changing, so we thought we needed to make that change.”  

Cruz, in his last semester at UR, is creating the club more so as something positive to leave UR rather than to benefit himself, he said. 

"My parents are immigrants and they came here with literally nothing, and their goal was to give me a better life than what they have, so that's kind of the philosophy that I'm adopting with the coalition," Cruz said. "I've gone through it, it was hard, I almost left. I'm thinking, 'Can I help in any way?' I’m going to try." 

The club is having its first speaker, Monique Johnson, on Feb. 17. Johnson is the chief operating officer at Better Housing Coalition, a Richmond nonprofit community development corporation, and is an Executive in Residence for the business school. Students can fill out a google form if they are interested in becoming a member of the coalition. 

Contact news writer Meredith Moran at meredith.moran@richmond.edu.

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