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Our View: Seek diversity within the university

Published: Monday, January 28, 2013

Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 17:01

President Obama has been widely criticized for picking an overly homogenized group for his cabinet, and this is a problem that reflects a larger trend in our society. Shaking the paradigm of white male dominance seems to be an obstacle that we as a nation are having a hard time with, and Arkansas State University has also faced this as a hurdle in recent years.

Last Thursday, Governor Mike Beebe reappointed Ron Rhodes to the ASU Board of Trustees, maintaining its composition of all white men. The Board of Trustees is the most powerful decision-making body of the ASU system, which serves all eight ASU campuses within the state.  
The Trustees serve as a board of management and control in regards to curriculum, budgeting and university policy. While Rhodes and his colleagues have done an exemplary job in their capacity as Trustees, this appointment re-emphasizes the stark contrast between the composition of the Board of Trustees and the composition of the student and faculty bodies at large.  Our criticism is neither of a particular decision made by the board, nor its individual members, but the lack of diversity in the decision making process. This criticism also has wide application across the main ASU campus in Jonesboro.

While we find some solace in the fact that women make up nearly half of the upper level administration on the Jonesboro campus, we find it alarming that there is only one ethnic minority represented within this administration. According to the 2012-2013 Arkansas State Fact-book available on the ASU website, women compromise well over 50% of the student population across ASU campuses, and ethnic minorities constitute over a fourth of the student body at large.  And on a campus where a majority of the full time instructional staff is female, concerns should be raised to how adequately an all male deliberative body represents the interests of the staff and student body as a whole. There is reason for concern when the way we structure our administration doesn’t reflect the diversity that our campus has to offer. The mission statement of ASU states that every aspect of the ASU system will be characterized by “racial, ethnic and gender diversity,” but in the positions that really count, all we see is uniformity.  
Our goal is not to attack the Board of Trustees or their decisions, but to urge that future appointments are made with the diverse constituency of ASU in mind.

“Our View” is written by the editorial staff. The opinions are not necessarily reflective of the student body, faculty or administration of Arkansas State University.

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