The University of Kansas Student Senate’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee sent a letter to Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer calling for answers after KU reorganized the DEI entities late last year, which resulted in two staff members being terminated and multiple programs moving to different office’s jurisdictions.
In the letter, members of the committee voiced concerns about the reorganization and also made mention that marginalized students were not included in the decision-making process prior to the reorganization.
“The input of marginalized students was not included in the process,” the letter said. “It was only after the harm was done, that the administration agreed to a town hall.”
In the reorganization, two staff members in the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) were terminated.
“These individuals were stripped of their livelihood, healthcare, and stability while a global pandemic raged on,” the letter said.
The Senate DEI committee played a key role in organizing the town hall in January with Interim Vice Provost of the new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging office D.A. Graham, but said it left them with unanswered questions.
“Interim Vice Provost of DEIB, D.A. Graham either could not speak on behalf of our Provost’s actions or left questions unanswered,” the letter said.
In the letter, the committee asked for another town hall meeting, but this time, with Bichelmeyer there to explain the reorganization.
“Our constituents deserve comprehensive answers to concerns and questions from both Interim VP of DEIB, D.A. Graham and Provost Barabara Bichelmeyer,” members said in the letter.
In the reorganization, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Center for Sexuality and Gender Equity (SGD) and the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity (ETC) were moved from reporting to the vice provost of DEIB to the vice provost of student affairs, according to the memo.
"As a result, it has become harder for students to access DEI services and diminishes the capability of the programs to inform and educate faculty and staff about DEI issues," Chair of the Senate DEI Committee Ximena Ibarra said.
“These three organizations did training for social justice, not just for students and student employees, but for faculty and staff as well,” Ibarra said. “To move these three entities under student affairs sends a message that they only deal with students specifically. The reality of a college campus is, a lot of times, it’s professors who are committing the microaggressions.”