It is important for students to be aware of how diversity and inclusivity is being displayed and exercised on campus.
A few weeks ago, the University unveiled its new Diversity and Inclusion Narrative for students and faculty to reference. Fairfield University President, Mark Nemec, Ph.D., has made it very clear that Fairfield University’s administration is discussing the removal of the “Black Lives Matter” flag from the Counseling and Psychological Services office window and how that coincides with the University’s mission of welcoming diversity and inclusivity, hence the newest release of the reconstructed narrative.
The release of the new Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Narrative follows President Nemec’s recent presentation at the “A Community in Action: Sharing Our Work in and Commitment to Diversity and Inclusive Excellence” event that was held on Feb. 28.
Further controversy has spread throughout campus through vessels including social media, word of mouth, flyers, etc. in regards to Nemec’s response on the matter. One video, in particular, posted on the social media app Tik Tok has gained traction and currently stands at 63.4k amount of views and 2.9k likes as of March 27.
The video includes Nemec saying, “As a Jesuit Catholic University, our discussion welcomes socialist capitalists, distributed libertarians, anti-racist and anti-anti-racist perspectives, and all points across the spectrum characterized by rigor and intellectual honesty.”
The inclusion of “anti-anti racist perspectives” is what ultimately fueled the flame for discussion.
This statement has the potential to put a large dent in Fairfield’s name and what we stand for as Stags.
President Nemec also shared a more recent email with the University community following up on his reflections of the discussion that took place at the Feb. 28 event that further stirred up controversy on campus.
In his email he notes, “I am deeply sorry people are upset and I regret that my remarks while intended to advance the conversation have caused pain.”
In response to his regrets, Nemec plans to enter the next phase of initiatives as outlined in the Narrative along with a commitment to recruit 175 students of color with the plan to increase that number to 200 students by the year 2027.
To me, diversity and inclusivity is the kind of environment where you don’t have to feel sexualized, discriminated against, or belittled for your orientation, skin color, beliefs, etc.
I came from what I would consider to be a very progressive hometown where I am sure the removal of a Black Lives Matter flag would spark a riot or protest. Therefore, it is interesting to come to a school where most of the student body didn’t get involved. I am not sure if this message didn’t get out in time for students to react, or if there isn’t a large BIPOC community at Fairfield for the message to make a large enough impact, however, this event should have sparked more of a conversation.
While this is a dedicative effort to be visually more inclusive, I am not sure how I would feel as a person of color knowing that it is only in response to a presumably racist remark that called for immediate reconstruction.
Diversity should encompass a set of predisposed values that coincide with concepts of inclusivity. In that, they go hand and hand. There is an action component that I believe many people miss out on when they contemplate diversity. I believe it is our duty to be mutually informed about what groups are being discriminated against and take careful action in terms of how we can distinguish said discrimination.
In terms of action, Fairfield should consider offering more classes revolving around the concepts of diversity and inclusion. A common misconception about diversity is that we should be blind to our differences. However, it is imperative that as a Jesuit community, we need to celebrate our differences and welcome perspectives besides that of our own. This could also mean inviting more guest speakers to lecture on the importance of the effects of a lack of diversity on a college. This in turn, will produce a stronger inclusive environment.
The saying “see something, say something” can be applied in various ways. This could mean that you stand up to a peer displaying a racist, sexist, homophobic etc. remark that could potentially change their outlook on privilege. Or, reporting comments to administration that have the power to make a serious change.
We cannot keep turning our cheeks to this issue. We live in an ever-changing world. As a community of higher education it is our civil duty to practice diversity and inclusivity.