The Maneater

New reporting structure seeks to connect social justice centers

Kevin McDonald, interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity: “This is bringing the centers under one umbrella … My hope is that this will more systematically create a stronger connection with how social justice centers impact the students

Photo illustration.

In an effort to promote a stronger connection between organizations, MU’s social justice centers will now report to the Division of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity.

The new structure will affect the Accessibility and ADA Education office, Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center, LGBTQ Resource Center, Multicultural Center, Office of Civil Rights and Title IX, Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center and Women’s Center.

This is not a policy, but rather a “national transition,” Director of Academic Retention Services Donell Young said.

By focusing on four nationally recognized areas: access and success, campus climate and intergroup relations, education and scholarship, and institutional infrastructure, the new division hopes to build upon the existing initiatives with a $1.5 million budget for 2016-17, according to a July MU News Bureau news release.

“One of the goals under my leadership is making sure students feel like they have inclusive spaces where they feel like they have, in essence, a home away from home,” Young said.

Kevin McDonald, interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity, hopes this change will connect and serve students better. McDonald also serves as the UM System chief diversity, inclusion and equity officer.

“This is bringing the centers under one umbrella,” McDonald said. “On many campuses, it is a common strategy to more strategically link diversity and inclusion efforts … My hope is that this will more systematically create a stronger connection with how social justice centers impact the students, faculty and staff, but the centers are primarily focused on the students.”

Young also recognizes the effort’s focus on improving students’ academic performance, as well as their well-being.

“Hopefully this will help students realize the importance of what they are here for, and that is the academic piece,” Young said. “We are giving them an environment and a space for them to get advice and be directed to the right places to be successful.”

Edited by Kyra Haas | khaas@themaneater.com

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