“EMU creates chief diversity officer job after racially charged incidents”

I would have posted about this earlier, but I was (as they say) “away” from the Internets. But as reported in mLive (and as the campus saw in an email from President Martin included in the mLive story), “EMU creates chief diversity officer job after racially charged incidents.” Here’s the paragraph where Martin talks about this new position:

This is why I am announcing that we will add a new position to the University’s senior leadership team: Chief Diversity Officer. This individual will serve as the senior executive on the leadership team responsible for efforts related to diversity, inclusion and equity. The individual will advise the president, senior leaders and campus units on policies, processes, and practices intended to foster a most diverse and inclusive campus where all members of the university community can thrive and contribute to the University’s mission and core values.

I guess I have kind of mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it seems to me like this particular incident deserves an actual response from Martin, at least something along the lines of “I think those students behaved badly” or what-have-you. And I’m just not so sure hiring another administrator is a solution to this.

On the other hand, a “Chief Diversity Officer” is a position that apparently does exist on a lot of campuses. As far as I can tell, it’s a position that tends to bring together under one leader things like Title IX issues, equal employment issues, and to address issues like this infamous party. So maybe it’s a good idea.

17 thoughts on ““EMU creates chief diversity officer job after racially charged incidents”

    • That’s part of Student Affairs and not executive leadership,and it’s more about student programming (includes the Women’s Center, LGBT Resource Center, VISION community service, etc.) than campus strategy and administration.

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  1. Just to be clear, a new administrative position is being created, likely with a salary of $100K a year, basically because a local “character” (the nicest way I can describe the guy and there are plenty of other words to use and none are positive) randomly ran into a party OFF CAMPUS held by likely drunken moron college frat boy types doing stupid things — and they intersected and a new job was created?

    …so the equation is local idiot + drunk college boys being stupid = new EMU position paying $100K …

    Sorry to all the people who will comment after telling my I am wrong Blah Blah Blah, but this particular incident just does not rise to the level of importance is being held too … there was a time, when these incidents were not overblown … who misses those times?

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  2. The addition of this position was planned far in advance of any recent events. The President’s message sent on Wednesday, April 22 was an obvious time and context to note that a national search would be undertaken in the next academic year to fill such a vital role. The original headline on the Ann Arbor News story (it’s been changed) hints at a direct cause and effect that does not exist.

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  3. I do think Matt raises an interesting and important point though: I wonder if any of these various positions that have attention to diversity (broadly speaking) will be consolidated a bit.

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  4. “This is why I am announcing that we will add a new position to the University’s senior leadership team: Chief Diversity Officer. This individual will serve as the senior executive on the leadership team responsible for efforts related to diversity, inclusion and equity. The individual will advise the president, senior leaders and campus units on policies, processes, and practices intended to foster a most diverse and inclusive campus where all members of the university community can thrive and contribute to the University’s mission and core values.”

    This statement, in her email to everyone, sure makes it read that this is a reactive decision as no mention is made of prior planning of the position.

    “Further details about the search process and committee will be forthcoming” begs the question, how far back does this go if EMU has no real details to share yet?

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  5. I have run into the “character” in question multiple times and found him to be warm and good-natured. I don’t know the man well enough to say Grady is wrong, I just find it difficult to square Grady’s characterization with my own experience.

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  6. Like Josh, I have meet the man who the crowd of students, drinking beer in the afternoon and painted “red” like Indians, insulted, yelled threats at, and threw a beer can at, and he strikes me as a nice, friendly fellow. Not hostile. The man was walking on a public street, in the afternoon! He was the victim, not the person at fault.

    The decision of President Martin a few years ago, or of her subordinates, to get new band uniforms with the Huron logo on it, and to sell Huron alumni t-shirts in the Bookstore, was both strategically stupid and insulting. That decision no doubt contributed to the climate in which a group of students, living off campus in a rental house, would decide to host a racist-themed party and invite people to come, in “Indian” garb and red paint.

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  7. Lots of universities do have chief diversity officers or similarly titled jobs. I don’t know what President Martin imagines this job to be, as no details have been revealed, except that it is to be a top level administrative job, a part of “the Leadership Team” as I think she put it. That’s a small group, mostly far removed from the actual life of the campus as lived by students.

    The organic ties of Martin’s “Leadership Team” have rarely reached down to the real university’s base; it’s mostly been a self-contained group that manages things from a distance, and is always taken by surprise when something bad happens, no matter how many warnings of such things have been expressed before. The Leadership Team typically overstates its accomplishments for the real university, and spends a lot of effort on congratulating itself.

    Of course, there are exceptions to what I’ve just said.

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  8. Forgive me, but honoring the past (via the Hurons) being featured in the smallest of possible ways was both strategically stupid and insulting only in that she (Martin) caved and folded after the most minimal of pressure. She sold out her supporters when she did not have a reason to do so, other than to calm a minor storm. EMU has a rich legacy and honoring that legacy is not strategically stupid and insulting. Caving to the special interest of heat seeking groups constantly, over every perceived slight however, is strategically stupid and insulting. But that is what led us here.

    The majority — a large majority – of alumni that graduated before 1995 do not find it strategically stupid and insulting to honor the past in some way. Are all of us wrong or is there not a middle ground in this issue? Only those living in the entitled ivory towers see this as a one-dimensional issue, especially one that claims to engage all students – both those who profess a hatred of history and those who love it.

    “That decision no doubt contributed to the climate in which a group of students, living off campus in a rental house, would decide to host a racist-themed party and invite people to come, in “Indian” garb and red paint.”

    Until you talk to the students in question, your connection (or causation) is very weak science. What do you base this “no-doubt” argument on other than your thoughts? Is this an argument you would accept from your students …”no doubt … because.” Myself, I would not try to connect the two events, separated by 2+years (a lifetime in the world of students) to the actions of some drunken morons.

    Its really no surprise our students are offended at everything and want to shut down ideas these days … they are enabled by a weak-willed faculty catering to heat seekers and they are even more enabled by progressive professors spewing PC notions about right and wrong from the security of tenure, not a board room or office any any actual industry.

    I never once said the “character” was a threat, or violent, or not even polite. It’s a simple statement being that perhaps he does not always have the entire use of his faculties, for various legit or medical reasons. But it does make we want to seek verification before I seek villinization/

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    • This is not the first racially-charged incident on campus, and anyone who has ever lived on campus knows that there is racial tension and segregation happening (on its own, not the school acting) among younger students (go look at the dining halls during peak times, it’s blacks on one side whites on the other), so it might be a good idea to have an administrator whose primary job function is to work on developing the culture.

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  9. @ Eagle Talon – the eateries were that way when I was in school in the late 80s … I cant speak for now. It was like a junior high dance with boys and girls on each side, only it was black and white. In fact, by the time I graduated one particular eatery became a primary black hangout and several roads around the dorms were reconfigured as out of town Detroit people were “cruising the dorms” … just saying that its (racial division) nothing new but this was an OFF CAMPUS incident. Maybe its a good position, maybe not. My point was (corrected by Mr. Larcom) that its creation seemed rushed reactive towards this one off-campus incident. If the position was actually planned long ago (as asserted by Mr. Larcom but not in the statement itself, then I do stand corrected.

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  10. How much will this new administrative position cost?
    And in this incident (local man meets drunk college idiots) what would more administration do that wasn’t done?

    Meanwhile how many of us teach in these old dirty dilapidated buildings…. but yeah let’s hire more administration.

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