OPINION: Debra Bolton should become the next CDIO

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(Archive photo by John Chapple | Collegian Media Group)

Bryan Samuels, chief diversity and inclusion officer, dropped a bombshell on Kansas State when he announced his departure from the university. With the announcement, the question now arises — who will take on the position?

The Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer is a senior leader who serves as a catalyst to leverage best practices and resources across K-State’s campuses. They work to promote a culture of inclusion where individuals from all racial and ethnic identities, ages, nationalities, social and economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, religion, political and ideological perspectives and physical and mental abilities can thrive and stay engaged.

The CDIO provides strategic and programmatic leadership for diversity and inclusion initiatives, advancing diversity as a critical component of social, academic and intellectual life at K-State.

This position is extremely crucial for K-State’s success. As we have seen at K-State recently, the university truly needs to invest its heart and soul into inclusivity and equity across campus.

In my opinion, the only person prepared to take up this position and steer the university in the right direction for improved inclusivity is director of intercultural learning and academic success Debra Bolton.

For the last 15 years, Bolton has performed social research focusing on minority-majority communities. Her office works to address issues of inequity in student success at K-State.

Anyone who has ever come across Bolton can testify to her capabilities. She is the best teacher for intercultural learning and a true ally of students in the K-State higher administration. She has fabulously advocated for students and amplified student voices, especially marginalized student voices across our campus.

Whether it’s a student protest for equity or an event promoting diversity and equity, one is sure to see Bolton there. She is the cutest grandmother of every K-State student. She loves the students as her own and makes sure every student on campus — especially those affected by inequity on campus — feels welcomed, belonged and loved at K-State.

Whether you’re an international student, LGBTQ+ student, Black student, Hispanic or Latino student, or even a student from the dominant community on campus, Bolton is always there to help you grow and learn. With one email, she will schedule a one-on-one session with you to teach you more about intercultural learning.

She listens to students and stands firmly with all of them. Bolton’s professional experience makes her more than capable of serving as the chief diversity and inclusion officer. Her publication’s webpage is a testimony to her leadership abilities.

On top of anything, the most important reason why Bolton should take on the role of chief diversity and inclusion officer is her love for students. Bolton would take a bullet for the students at K-State, and anyone who knows her would do the same.

She knows K-State through and through. She can find the perfect balance between the administration’s hegemony over K-State and student demands. She will never disappoint students, and she will never make students feel unwelcome, opening her door to all.

Having an ally for students in the President’s Cabinet is of paramount importance. It’s the most important thing to ensure students from diverse backgrounds feel they belong at K-State. Students should email K-State’s executive recruitment manager Lindsey Fouquette and send their nomination for Bolton as the interim and new chief diversity and inclusion officer.

The administration does not need a country-wide search for this position. Students do not want some third-party person with little knowledge about student issues to become the next chief diversity and inclusion officer.

K-State wants one of their own — someone who has been on the grassroots with students — as their next representative. Therefore, everyone on the hiring committee for this position should make the unanimous decision of hiring Bolton as K-State’s next chief diversity and inclusion officer. It is time to see if K-State has what it takes to have an indigenous woman in the President’s Cabinet.

Vedant Deepak Kulkarni is a Collegian contributor, a Collegian Media Group board member and a senior in management information systems and mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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