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ENMU-R committee to focus on diversity

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ENMU-R President Shawn Powell

Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell has created a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Committee that plans to start activities on campus this fall.

The strategist and chair for the committee, Social Sciences Instructor Edna Yokum, said that the committee aims to ensure “that we are maintaining a welcoming environment on our campus and in our community” for all students, staff and faculty.

Yokum described herself as a member of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma and an American Indian Studies scholar.

Yokum presented drafts of the charter and plan for the DEI Committee during a Wednesday meeting of the ENMU-R Community College Board.

The board is expected to vote on whether to accept the committee and its plan during a future meeting.

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“At the core of our work, we wanted to make sure that our campus is a place where all can work and grow,” she said.

Yokum and other staff of ENMU-R were asked to create such a group in fall 2019 by Shawn Powell, the president of ENMU-R.

Powell said the group, if approved, would be provided resources to accomplish its work.

“As of right now, we’re not planning to devote a full-time position to diversity efforts on our campus,” he said. “However, we plan to compensate those faculty and staff members involved with this work.”

Professional development for committee members also would be provided.

Draft documents indicate that the committee would report to the ENMU-R president and would consist of nine voting members who would meet at least once a month.

Those members would be a core staff worker; a human resources representative; a student services representative; a student selected by the associate vice president for academic and student affairs; a faculty member; two community members; and two at-large members.

The draft charter document indicates that new members would be selected each fall as needed and would be chosen to enhance diversity, to increase understanding of issues affecting underrepresented people and to advocate for them, and to create equitable representation on college groups and organizational structures and in the community.

Yokum indicated that the group will seek nominations for the two community member positions. Recommendations could come from the Community College Board, ENMU-R campus members or other area residents.

According to a draft of the committee’s plan, the group will focus on five goals: creating and supporting the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity group and its strategist; diversifying the student population and closing the “opportunity gap” between underrepresented students and their peers; diversifying the ENMU-R workforce; ensuring a “welcoming and inclusive environment” for all; and collecting data, conducting research and utilizing findings to achieve the goals.

To accomplish the goal, committee members would promote diversity among various campus groups, develop partnerships with underrepresented populations and develop training, programs and projects to ensure opportunities for success and advancement.

Donna Oracion, college development director and the communications and campus liaison for the group, said other efforts could include organizing community events for such days as Juneteenth, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Indigenous Peoples Day, Dia de los Muertos or Mexico’s Independence Day.

Oracion added that the group also intends to create a glossary of terms that will help people understand what is meant when discussing diversity and inclusion issues.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

 

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.