The Faculty Council passed a proposal Thursday that aims to measure students' appreciation and knowledge of diversity.
The proposal, one of two discussion items on the agenda, will extend an invitation to professors from different colleges to update the council on what they are doing to educate students on the issue of diversity. The information will be made available on the council's website, associate professor of journalism Clyde Bentley said.
“(When coming up with the proposal) we wanted to be able to tell the world that we’re actually doing something,” Bentley said to the council. “So we have something to say ‘this is what we’re doing.’”
The proposal mentioned two overarching, campus-wide goals the council hopes to accomplish. The first goal is that “every MU graduate should leave this university with an appreciation and respect for the diversity in our society.” The second goal is that “MU should have some way to publicly state and explain what it is doing to enhance diversity.”
Associate professor of education Lisa Flores, who serves on the diversity enhancement committee with Bentley, said the second part of their new proposal comes in the form of a survey.
“We found a 15-item short form on a universality-diversity scale that is meant to assess awareness of appreciation of both similarities and differences in individuals,” Flores said.
The survey, written by Miville-Guzman, has been used by other schools before, Flores said. The short-form includes 15 statements in which the subject can choose to agree or disagree. Statements revolve around culture, race or racial background, ethnicity or ethnic group, and country.
The survey will include a sampling of all students entering and leaving the university, Flores said.
This will allow them to report the information back to colleges and schools, Bentley said. He also said the field of journalism is “historically terrible” with diversity and the current system needs to be looked at.
“(The proposal) is meant to be put into the process we already have of assessing freshman and seniors," Bentley said. "We already have that process. This is just an addition to it.”
The council also discussed a resolution concerning the closing of the Nuclear Science Engineering Institute. Although the resolution listed four immediate and four long-term actions, the council ultimately passed two immediate actions.
The first action passed will “open admissions to the graduate program in NSEI immediately for 2013 and later.” The second will “maintain NSEI, and keep its academic and research functions intact.” The immediate actions passed by a 16 to 5 margin.
All of this was in response to an issue that created “confusion” and “conflict,” according to the resolution.
“There are continuing and compelling concerns regarding actions against the Nuclear Science Engineering Institute (NSEI) that were carried out unilaterally and purposely done in secret,” the resolution stated.
Emails obtained by The Columbia Tribune detailed the actions taken against the NSEI. Graduate School Dean George Justice said he was worried staff would wish to have a panel listen to the proposal. The council called upon the chancellor to resolve the situation with the proposed actions, according to the resolution.
The council voiced both concern and praise. Douglas Wakefield, director of the Center for Health Care Quality, said he could see the opposing arguments. He said he was concerned that the council might not understand the full scope of the issue. He also expressed concern that long-term actions could contribute to “kicking the can down the road.”
“I’m really torn,” Wakefield said. “I can see both sides of the coin clearly.”
The council will continue to discuss options concerning the NSEI at the Feb. 14 meeting.