On Diversity: Opportunities for Engagement

Over the past two years, I have often advocated for and encouraged the concept of pluralism at Middle Georgia State.  Indeed, the very concept of a university entails a plurality of ideas.

The last time I shared my thoughts on the subject in this blog, I updated you on a number of initiatives aimed at strengthening pluralism and diversity at the university, including campus conversations on diversity, equity and inclusion; plans to hire a Director of Diversity/Title IX Coordinator; and our submission of an application for funding under the USG’s African American Male Initiative.

As this academic year began, I was pleased to report that our director of diversity, Jenia Bacote, is onboard; we were approved for funding under the AAMI; and last year’s campus conversations led to a number of recommendations including the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity in the Academic Assembly. Earlier this week, we learned about a number of campus events related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Among these events—which span all five campuses—are opportunities to lend our ear to the voices of people with disabilities, African Americans, women, athletes, and aviators. This evening, one of those events—a panel discussion on the Black Lives Matter movement—will take place on the Macon campus.

At a time when the news is peppered with stories that often raise questions about the state of race relations in the US, and the value placed on lives across the global community, that we would create a forum for respectful discussion of difficult issues speaks directly to who we are. A plurality of voices finding a willing ear in a public institution of higher learning is encouraging, and exactly what we should expect of ourselves as Georgia’s newest public university.

As the late great American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou put it, “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”

Thank you all for bringing your individual threads to the tapestry that is Middle Georgia State, and for respecting and listening to what others bring. No matter the outcomes of these discussions, we as a community are stronger for them.