President Roderick McDavis advocated for diversity and inclusion at Student Senate Wednesday night by suggesting its members create an educational program targeted at the campus community.
McDavis addressed the issue of the offensive comments on the graffiti wall. He maintained his belief in freedom of speech, but denounced the current way the wall is used.
“It’s a wall where we put up our ideas,” McDavis said. “In my opinion, it has been used for the wrong purpose.”
He went on to propose Cultural Awareness Training for Students, or CATS.
McDavis asked Senate to create the content for this project, which he has already approved. CATS is intended to be a collaboration between Faculty and Student Senate, and the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and will be a method of reinforcing an inclusive atmosphere in Athens.
“We need action. Come (up) with a proposal, I want to partner with you on this project,” McDavis said. “I can issue another statement, but it will fall on deaf ears.”
Senate members were receptive, asking questions about how specifically he would like them to create this program. He answered vaguely, bringing up ideas but pressing the students to come up with the ideas themselves.
“I intend to take this challenge very seriously,” said Hannah Clouser, president of Student Senate.
This would be the first Senate body to take direct action on racism and discrimination.
Lorna Jean Edmonds, the vice provost for Global Affairs, also spoke on diversity and inclusion, answering questions that were asked about Global Affairs’ action on the continuation of global outreach within OU. She named four goals: education, research and creativity; mobility of knowledge and experience, diversity of campus life, and global relations and profile.
During Edmonds’ speech, Dr. Dawn Bikowski, a professor of linguistics, introduced a proposal for a series of forums to help widen global perspective on campus.
Senate also passed nine resolutions, including motions for the homecoming budget, homecoming shirts, funding for a table at the Blackburn-Spencer Pageant, funding for blue books, funding for pizza at the National Coming Out day events, funding for a film screening of Crossing the Border, the appointment of members to the international affairs commission and the appointment of members to the LGBTQA affairs commission.
The mandate that Ufund Events take place in Athens was discussed at length, but passed. The resolution to change SAC member attendance requirements was debated past the allotted time, and the vote failed.
Student Senate meets weekly on Wednesdays at 7:15 p.m. in Walter 235.