University of Colorado’s Board of Regents and system leaders discussed diversity, equity and inclusion for nearly two hours at a virtual committee meeting Tuesday, highlighting diversity initiatives but leaving in limbo an earlier effort to directly address systemic racism.
But the meeting did not impress at least four students who watched and raised concerns about whether system leaders are interested in talk or action.
The committee meeting was spurred by Regent Jack Kroll, who made a motion at a June Board of Regents meeting to address systemic and institutional racism. Kroll’s motion listed several action items, including evaluating campus police’s use of force policies; exploring alternatives to standardized tests for admission; and making permanent a statue commemorating Los Seis de Boulder, the six Chicano student activists killed by car bombs.
Instead, the majority-Republican board voted in June to table the motion and send it to committees for evaluation.
On Tuesday, President Mark Kennedy told the virtually assembled regents and system leaders that there was “leadership from the top” on diversity, equity and inclusion, and that the items in Kroll’s motion are either completed or being addressed.
Kennedy highlighted how he has hired women and people of color onto his leadership team; has added a diversity, equity and inclusion pillar to the strategic plan; has hired a system chief diversity officer and has invested in a diversity summit, diversity award and diversity survey.
“…I submit that a robust response is underway at CU to address concerns raised by many in our community,” Kennedy said.
Chief Diversity Officer Theodosia Cook addressed the ways CU will work on diversity, equity and inclusion this year, and campus chancellors spoke about how they were addressing those issues.
CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano spoke about an update published Tuesday to his eight-point plan to address racism on campus.
CU Boulder has created mandatory bystander training for students, is working with the campus police department to expand equity training for officers and has worked with student leaders and organizations of color to address racism and inequality, DiStefano said.
All of the regents except John Carson participated in the meeting, and each commented on the system’s diversity initiatives.
Regent Chance Hill said he wanted to make sure that the system addresses all forms of diversity, which include racial diversity and ideological diversity.
“We need to focus on all forms of diversity this fall semester, because all forms matter,” he said.
Hill’s comment was one of several made at the meeting that concerned CU Boulder students who watched it.
Holly Olivarez, a graduate student and organizer of the diversifyCUnow campaign, wrote in an email that she was frustrated by the administrators’ prepared statements on how much progress is being made when no one she knows has been contacted to participate in those efforts.
Hill’s comment was “a blatant disregard for the Black Lives Matter movement resurfacing after George Floyd’s murder, as well as a blatant disregard for those most marginalized at CU,” Olivarez said.
In an email, Hill stood by his statement.
“During today’s Regent meeting, I said that it is important for CU’s administration to continue to focus on the importance of fostering all forms of diversity on each of our campuses. That is what I sincerely believe, and I stand by that sentiment,” Hill said.
Graduate students Emily Bedell also wrote that she was frustrated by Hill’s comment.
“The regent meeting was filled with words and no commitment to action,” Bedell wrote in an email. “The few action items President Kennedy mentioned have yet to show any real changes in the lives and trauma BIPOC (Black, indigenous or people of color) students on CU campuses have to endure.”
CU Boulder student government leader Isaiah Chavous, who is also chair of the system-wide Intercampus Student Forum, said the meeting made racial equity political instead of addressing it as a systemic need.
“It will require opposing partisan views to be placed aside in order for the student voice to be truly considered,” he said in a statement. “As the representative for all CU campuses, I can guarantee that all student governments within the system stand for implementing police accountability structures to ensure student safety. It is time to see tangible action.”
Regent Irene Griego said she’s heard about diversity and inclusion efforts before, and she wants to see accountability.
“I think they’ve done those things in good conscience and with good intentions, but I think it’s also the board’s role to make sure there’s accountability in our community,” she said.
Kroll said he didn’t intend to bring up his motion at future meetings, though there wasn’t a clear consensus Tuesday on what would happen to it. Board of Regents Chair Glen Gallegos said committees would compile reports on diversity to present at a regular board meeting.
“The way the regents will get involved is yet to come,” Gallegos said.
This content was originally published here.