Duke Student Government heard a presentation from the assistant vice president for intercultural programs Wednesday night and discussed how senators and students can work toward inclusivity at all levels of the University.
DSG senators had the opportunity to hear Li-Chen Chin report Duke's efforts to promote a more inclusive space during the pandemic. Chin spoke of the current situation's difficulties and uncertainties. She also praised Duke students' resilience and how Duke has made “great strides in racial and multicultural inclusion.”
Chin and Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost and vice president of student affairs “are very enthusiastic in increasing the diversity among faculty and [maintaining] the inclusion that Duke has to provide," Chin said. She also emphasized the need to collaborate with student groups to promote inclusive spaces on campus.
After the presentation, Chin took questions from senators. Senator Hana Hendi, a sophomore, asked how Duke will promote students' different religions and allow access to facilities on campus. Chin responded that Duke will be working with different organizations to promote a safe environment. She also stressed the severity of the pandemic and the increasing number of cases in North Carolina.
"We are working hard for students to get a change of scenery, and we are gradually opening our spaces while following the safety guidelines," Chin said.
Senator Swetha Rajagopal, a sophomore, questioned Duke's changes and what the University needs to do to be more inclusive. Chin acknowledged that Duke is a "white institution" and stressed the need for making the education curriculum less Eurocentric. She also said that she wants to address international students’ needs during the pandemic.
Dawei Gao, a sophomore senator for Durham and community affairs, expressed concern about tokenization of minority professors in predominantly white spaces at Duke.
"What do you believe are some ways we can promote diversity while avoiding tokenism at an institutional level, both at Duke and in DSG?" Gao asked.
Chin spoke to how her colleagues’ experiences have inspired her to work hard for marginalized faculty on campus. She also stressed the responsibility that Duke and students have to promote faculty of color and provide a support system.
Senior Aly Diaz, vice president for Durham and regional affairs, asked if there has been any more considerable effort to culturally integrate students on campus, and Chin addressed the needs for making systemic improvements and starting more challenging conversations.
Senator Cynthia Dong, a sophomore, asked what student leaders can do for the international student community and what senators could do for marginalized students. Chin said that engaging with different students is very important, and stressed the need to reach out to friends, peers and students' communities and challenge oneself to get to know others.
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The Senate meeting moved on to caucuses' reports. Chairs of each caucus recapped their meetings and outlined plans for the future.
The meeting ended with senators entering Zoom breakout rooms to play Among Us.