Preparations made to take action towards inclusivity

Ryan Moore, Editor-in-Chief

Augsburg Day Student Government (ADSG) held a “What’s Next?” panel discussion for students on Nov. 29 in order to gauge students’ thoughts about changes they would look to see about the inclusivity of Augsburg’s campus. This comes following the situation within the honors program and the cancelation of the Day of Action that was approved by the Faculty Senate for Dec. 5.

It seems that the planned Day of Action was put on hold due to the wishes of students. “The idea for a December 5 ‘Day of Action’ was initially proposed by the faculty who initiated the ‘We are Listening’ sessions,” Provost Kaivola said. “A proposal was brought to Faculty Senate, and it was approved. Around the same time, we became aware that students wanted to take the lead on determining whether Dec. 5 would be a good time, from the student perspective, and on planning what might occur on a ‘Day of Action,’ regardless of when it was held.” Kaivola went on to add, “Some students expressed concern about the Dec. 5 date, with respect to the impact on student learning so near the end of the term.”

Around 40 students attended ADSG’s “What’s Next?” session on Nov. 29. As ADSG President Brandon Williams said, “The purpose of this conversation is to see what all you’d like [ADSG] to do.” In addition to Williams, Vice President Eli Baker, Junior Class President Jasmira Colon, Student Advocate Noah Greenfield, First-Year Class President Ethan Quezada and First-Year Class Senator Salwa Hassam sat on the panel that led the discussion. Many students spoke to voice concerns or propose changes they would like to see on campus. Senior and one of the presidents of the Honors program Winston Heckt said he believes “Phil Adamo is guilty of ‘hostile environment harassment.’” Heckt cited section 2.5.1 of the Faculty Handbook that says, in part, “Hostile environment harassment is defined as misconduct which has the effect or purpose of unreasonably interfering with work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. Such an environment may be created through a single intense and severe act or multiple persistent or pervasive acts that are demeaning, abusive, or offensive.” This is something Heckt would like to be considered going forward. Sophomore Ebelin Morales said, “What I would like to see is a review of the tenured professor policy.” Other students made known requests for things like cultural competency training for all faculty and more faculty of color.

Throughout the meeting Williams said, “We have the power of influence” to explain what ADSG will do to make sure the wishes of students are heard by administration. Then, on Dec. 2, Williams made a statement regarding the panel discussion. “Our stance is with the students,” Williams said. “At the end of the day we are students as well. ADSG is empathetic and are standing in solidarity and strength with the students … A report is being created by a sub-committee of pertinent ADSG members that will include a full review of student concerns, what is already in the works on campus and what we, the representatives of the students, will be pushing for and urging administration and faculty to work on. Our hope is to increase transparency, communication and efficiency of the use of student resources in the future.”

Currently, it appears Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 21, will be used as a Day of Action. Kaivola said, “Augsburg celebrates this holiday (there are no classes), and it is a week after classes begin.” According to Kaivola, the Center for Teaching and Learning, directed by sociology professor Tim Pippert, will take a role in planning any programing that will occur on that day.

This article was originally published in the Dec. 07, 2018 issue. 

Augsburg University Day Student Government hosts panel discussion on the Institutional Climate on Thursday 11/29. Photo by Ryan Moore.