Students share thoughts about recently-announced diversity initiatives, new vice president position

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Kansas State President Richard Linton recently announced a new position — vice president of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging — as part of the university-wide DEIB five-year strategic plan in an article submitted to K-State Today.

The new position will elevate the former role of chief diversity and inclusion officer. Responsibilities for the VPDEIB include university-wide strategic planning, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging reporting and analysis and policy review with a focus on removing structural barriers to access and success for all, according to K-State Today.

Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Thomas Lane will head the search committee with other students, faculty and alumni.

Emmanuel Ugwuegbu, junior in biology, pre-med, said he is excited to be a part of the committee.

“When I was asked, I was overjoyed,” Ugwuegbu said. “I was excited because this committee is just bringing in a different perspective … that manages everything that has to do with students from underrepresented communities. It also applies to our other students from the majority communities because this way we get to show everyone the excellence of K-State.”

DJ Giddens, freshman in business administration, said he believes diversity is important for K-State’s campus.

“It’s not too diverse if I’m being honest,” Giddens said. “It could be more diverse.”

Ugwuegbu said he is looking for a candidate ready to listen to students.

“Something I’m looking for in a candidate is someone who is able to be like Dr. Linton: get on campus, meet with different student organizations, hear their perspectives,” Ugwuegbu said. “Our student organizations here on campus have a lot to say, they have a lot to bring to the table. They have a voice.”

Ugwuegbu said the new position will use resources from the Office of Institutional Equity, the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs and the Office of Student Life.

We have the chief diversity and inclusion officer — that is great, but they have limited resources,” Ugwuegbu said. “Bringing in this new position, we get resources from three different departments, and that is a lot of resources that will go out to students. It could help us with recruitment to get our numbers up and also with recruiting students from underrepresented communities.”

Ugwuegbu said this role is vital in serving students from underrepresented communities.

“Personally, this new role — although I won’t be here long enough to enjoy it — it makes me happy to see that the work I do on campus is not just in vain,” Ugwuegbu said. “As a student leader, all I think about is ‘How can I help improve the lives of other students here on campus?'”

Nikéla Reed, sophomore in theater, said diversity initiatives and work going forward is very important.

“It’s good to make new positions and change the names of some things, but real work needs to actually happen,” Reed said. “Work needs to be done with faculty and staff on campus as well as students — more dialogues, more conversations, actual input from students from historically excluded backgrounds — more than just name changes. It’s really good to talk the talk, but you need to walk the walk.”

Reed said Linton’s background in education should help him in moving forward.

“I heard some good things about Linton,” Reed said. “He comes from a background of teaching different levels of education, and hopefully his connection to students in the past will help him go forward in his work with diversity and inclusion.”

Ugwuegbu said Linton is motivated to help students on campus.

“Talking with President Linton gives me joy because he has so much energy,” Ugwuegbu said. “He has the passion, he’s ready to dive in and make a change and that is something that K-State needs.”

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