Diversity and issues of prejudice still remain prevalent at Central Connecticut State University, despite the July publication of a recommendation report by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity.
The commission, formed in direct response to two controversial publications by The Recorder, identified the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community on campus as the most marginalized group due to lack of counseling and support programs and prejudice by other students.
“We still need to make some changes in how we take care of students,” said Dr. Antonio Garcia- Lozada, university ombudsperson. “I believe [GLBT students] still feel isolated and disconnected here.” The One-In-Ten Committee, formed by members of the PRIDE club to work more closely with administration, published a goals andmission statement in September.
The list of goals includea floor specifically for GLBT students that include gender- neutral bathrooms.
“The past couple of years, we have really been fighting for a lot of things,” said Melissa Cordner, president of PRIDE. “We need a place to go and just be ourselves.”
“Lack of coordination has resulted in a series of activities and responses that are not sustainable and have no real way of impacting a longer term solution,” the Blue Ribbon Commission’s report stated. In an effort to coordinate a higher-profile activity, CCSU is discussing the prospect of a Lavender Graduation, a commencement reception specifically honoring GLBT graduates.
“Any constituent group that has an identity and wants to celebrate it is great,” said Dr. Laura Tordenti, Vice- President of Student Affairs. “They have worked really hard for this.” The issue of diversity on campus runs deeper than the GLBT community, however.
The Blue Ribbon Report also identified African- American and Latino isolation on campus, and recommended the Provost review allocation of all faculty assignments to ensure equity in race, ethnicity, and gender. The Commission also suggested that CCSU look for opportunities of community outreach to help extend the university to diverse surrounding areas, such as New Britain and Hartford.
About 6 percent of Central’s 9,700 undergraduates are Latino. In Diversity A Constant Work in Progress the surrounding city of New Britain, 27 percent of its 71,500 residents are Hispanic.
“This University needs to create a stronger connection with the outside community,” said Garcia- Lozada, “but I don’t think President Miller asked me to do this because I am Latino.”
In addition to bigotry from the student body, many students have faced discrimination from faculty as well.
One-In-Ten’s goal statement expressed the need for a GLBT Center, set to open soon, because the Counseling and Wellness Center does not have adequate information on sexuality and coming out. Cordner said the addition of the GLBT Center is a huge victory for PRIDE, who has been pushing for its creation for several years.
“To have that taken off our shoulders is huge,” she said. “We can actually just be students again.”
Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Moises Salinas, with cooperation from Garcia-Lozada, has created nine specific task forces to assess diversity and acceptance of different groups on campus. They are to publish their findings at the end of the spring semester.
Although Central has made some improvement toward acceptance and diversity, both Garcia- Lozada and Tordenti admit there is still a long way to go in order to be seen as a truly diversified campus.
“I’m not sure when we will know we have arrived,” said Tordenti. “It is something we need to continually work on.”
TONYA MALiNOwSKi Staff writer