Racial Diversity & Equity at Oxy
Blogger: Qiu Meng Fogarty
As it’s my first blog, I believe an introduction is in order! My name is Qiu, pronounced “Cho” as in “Cho Chang” or “Cho-sen.” I’m a Senior, studying Social Justice through making my own major. I hail from New York City. I enjoy hot yoga and I just adopted a 5 month old cat. ADORABLE!
So the topic of my blog post today is RACIAL DIVERSITY & EQUITY at Oxy.
As everyone will say, there are tons of types of diversity: diversity of thought, geographic location, religion, gender, sex, sexuality, race, class, ability, age etc. Occidental College has been made famous by its mission of diversity and equity. When potential college students start their college search, diversity is often one of the factors students feel is important in their educational environment. Yet few people know why diversity is important or what it looks like in practice.
As an Oxy student of color, I can affirm that Occidental is a school that has been leading the way in terms of diversity. Easily-spotted diversity initiatives that have had a great impact on students of color include the Multicultural Summer Institute, the Multicultural Hall (Pauley Residential Hall), the Intercultural Community Center and the Center for Gender Equity. We engage these values through speakers, cultural organizations and months (Gaypril, Black History Month, Semana de la Raza, Take Back the Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month), educational programs, films, open mics at the Green Bean, Hallspreads, and Town Halls. This sounds good, and yeah, it looks good too. But we want to do even better!
The real testament to Oxy’s values and community is Oxy’s continual quest for equity and push to progress. We don’t want to be a school that rests on its laurels – we wanna put our money where our mouth is!
In the past year, there have been student and faculty initiatives to make some real changes to increase the faculty of color at Occidental. A number of students and faculty members have courageously and passionately come together to challenge Oxy to continue to progress and change what it means to be a student of color at Occidental. They have called for more resources for students of color and have been in discussion with the administration about how to make Occidental a more forward-thinking, forward-acting institution.
This past week in particular, students have been making themselves heard! Tuesday, students came together to present their experiences and desired changes to the faculty meeting. Two students shared powerful stories about the importance of making sure that faculty of color are being hired and considered for tenure. Thursday, Oxy’s student government sponsored a general forum on diversity and equity. Students were able to voice their opinions and speak directly to a panel of administrators, including the dean of student affairs, dean of academic affairs and the vice president of admissions. These students and faculty are blazing forward on a long trail of Oxy activism and social responsibility for equity.
Diversity at college matters. It is important to have professors who understand the experiences of students of color. Having students of color at a college benefits the entire institution and learning to work with people who are different from ourselves is a key trait necessary for survival in the “real world” and the professional world. This matters and it matters to Oxy.
As I prepare to enter the “real world,” I am so thankful to my professors who have taught me to think critically and strategically about my values, about myself and about the kind of world I want to live in. I’m extremely proud of my peers who are utilizing the knowledge they’ve gained to transform themselves and the campus into a more inclusive place. Oxy has empowered me to be the change I want to see in the world and I know that as a community, we will continue to fight the good fight!
Keep your eyes and ears out for what Oxy is doing to make itself and even more diverse and equitable environment!