OPINION: Visit Office of Institutional Equity, Student Ombudsperson for assistance against discrimination

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(Archive photo by John Chapple | Collegian Media Group)

College is not easy. Apart from academic difficulties, there are numerous times when a college student may need help with other things. These things could include help with an incident of bigotry they faced on campus or any issue of discrimination at the hands of a staff or faculty member. Such experiences can hinder one’s progress in college. It might cause them to transfer out of a university they call home.

Students should know that resources are available at Kansas State in such a situation. Whether it is an incident of violence or discrimination, there are numerous ways students can ensure that they get the justice they deserve.

At K-State, we have the Office of Institutional Equity and the newly created student ombudsperson position. These offices are here to help students out with anything they need.

Firstly, the Office of Institutional Equity collaborates with various departments on and off-campus to ensure that K-State fosters an intellectually diverse student, faculty and staff environment rooted in respect and fair practices. The Office of Institutional Equity is engaged in training, outreach, affirmative action planning, equal employment opportunity compliance and conducting investigations by following PPM 3010, laws, regulations, executive orders and other applicable policies that uphold equal opportunity and civil rights laws.

According to the OIE website, the role of the office is: (1) to assist campus community members in understanding the university’s policies and procedures in the areas of discrimination, harassment, affirmative action and equal employment opportunities, including those policies that implement Title IX; and (2) to process all complaints of discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment. Persons wishing to report discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment concerns can contact the Office of Institutional Equity by calling 785-532-6220, emailing at equity@ksu.edu or completing this form.

Along with handling complaints, the Office of Institutional Equity also conducts training sessions throughout the year for faculty, staff and supervisors on anti-discrimination and similar topics. Even if one does not know if the OIE could help them, they can reach out to the office, and the office will ensure they are helped or provided proper guidance and direction towards where they can find assistance for their queries.

Along with OIE, if you wish to report an incident anonymously and are unsure of whether you need legal help with it or not, you can approach the Student Ombudsperson Office. Dr. Kimathi Choma, assistant dean of diversity, recruitment and retention, serves as K-State’s student ombudsperson. The Student Ombudsperson Office keeps every discussion confidential. Like the OIE, the office then investigates any incident with impartiality and neutrality.

If you are struggling to get some issues resolved, need clarification on a university policy or if you need to report a professor, advisor or faculty member for discriminatory behavior anonymously, the student ombudsperson is there to help you.

Dr. Choma will listen to you intently and help you navigate your situation. Any help the student ombudsperson offers is done confidentially in an informal setting. Like the OIE, the ombudsperson acts as a resource offering guidance to resolve your situation. You can reach out to the student ombudsperson by visiting the resource tab on the Diversity and Inclusion section of K-State’s website.

Nobody needs to suffer silently through any situation they are in. At K-State, we are a family. We provide help to one another. Various offices at K-State are here to help you. The Office of Student Life, the CARE office, the University Success Center, the LGBT resource center, the Office of Institutional Equity and the Student Ombudsperson Office are just a few among a wide range of organizations across K-State that are here to help you and ensure you have a great experience.

Do not hesitate to reach out for help when you need it. The university is here for you. I have personally spoken with Director of the Office of Institutional Equity Stephanie Lott and Student Ombudsperson Dr. Kimathi Choma. They are among the fiercest advocates for students. They are passionate about helping students and give their heart and soul to ensuring that every student at K-State is properly helped and guided.

Asking for help does not make you weak. It reveals your strength, even when you do not think or feel strong. Therefore, as motivational speaker Les Brown once said, “Ask for help, not because you’re weak, but because you want to remain strong.”

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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