By Imani Coaxum
Brockport Beat Staff Writer
Diversity of the SUNY Brockport has been an ongoing issue. President Macpherson tells the Brockport community that diversity is a job for everyone but is everyone playing their part at encouraging diversity?
For a chunk of the 2019-2020 school year, students have raised issues regarding the diversity of their campus. However, the height of some students’ frustration began with the separation of Dr. Cephas Archie from his position as Chief Diversity Officer at SUNY Brockport. Soon after Dr. Sandra Vazquez quit from her position as the diversity recruitment and retention specialist at the college. Not long after that, Victoria Elsenheimer filed an EEOC complaint regarding alleged racial discrimination in her position as executive assistant to the vice president of the college. The link to the story can be found here: https://13wham.com/news/local/college-at-brockport-employee-files-eeoc-discrimination-complaint-against-college. The common trend in these events regard faculty and staff of color and the lack thereof.
Carvin Eison is an associate professor at the College at Brockport and he says that the issue of diversity has become a part of the culture at this college.
He said, “The question of diversity and inclusion at the college at Brockport has been an issue for so that it is now a prominent feature in the culture of this institution.” It is the new normal of this college’s culture.
If you take a look at the chart it shows the percentage and numbers of faculty members from several ethnic groups at different state universities around New York state.
Numbers for The College at Brockport specifically show that there are 505 white faculty and staff members. 7 are of two or more races, 34 are African American or Black, 48 are Asian, and 1 American Indian or Alaskan Native. The number of faculty or staff of color makes up about a fifth in comparison to the total number of white faculty and staff. In regard to other ethnic groups such as Native Hawaian or other Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino, and others they are not represented in the number of faculty and staff at The College at Brockport.
“The lack of faculty of color at Brockport is a little disappointing because diversity is one of the main components of Brockport’s mission. Especially as the student body appears to become more diverse, it’s kind of unfortunate that faculty doesn’t really reflect that. Students of color can find common ground with professors of any ethnic or racial group; however they might not feel like there are many faculty who they can connect with culturally. It can make some students feel like they don’t belong in a specific major or at college at all, which is sometime an overlooked aspect of what students of color face in certain institutions” said Kadeem Blackman, a senior at The College at Brockport.
Some students feel that these events only perpetuate the issue of diversity on the SUNY Brockport campus. Especially with lack of diversity amongst faculty. Some students at the College at Brockport believe that there should be more faculty of many different backgrounds at the college to help support students. However, it is difficult for these students to feel heard and supported when there aren’t many faculty members from diverse backgrounds to support them.
“If they wanted to do better, they would” said Dr. Douglas Thomas, a professor and chair of the African and African American studies department at The College at Brockport.
Both students and faculty feel strongly against the small percentage of faculty and staff of color. This is an issue that greatly affects some students’ wellbeing and feelings towards the college’s mission statement. The question is, what efforts will be made in the future to fix this?
SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson visited the college to hear the perspective of students and faculty at Brockport. In addition, Dr. Rodmon King, who is the Chief Diversity officer at SUNY Oswego has joined alongside new interim Chief Diversity Officer Lorraine Acker to help The College at Brockport navigate this issue of diversity.
|College||Number of American Indian or Alaska Native||% of American Indian or Alaska Native||Number of Asian||% of Asian||Number of Black or African American||% of Black or African American||Number of Hispanic or Latino||% of Hispanic or Latino||Number of Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander||% of Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander||Number of Non Resident Alien||% of Non Resident Alien||Number of Two or More Races||% of Two or More Races||Number Unknown||% Unknown||Number of White||% of White||Total Number||Total %|
|* includes both full- and part- time faculty|
|**includes only full-time faculty|
|N/A = not available|