There were four events at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to celebrate and bring awareness to diversity and the Black Lives Matter movement during the week of Sept. 7.
“On Tuesday, Sept. 8, we hosted a session called ‘New Perspectives: The Impact of Faculty Diversity on Student Success,’ and that was part of the Office for Campus Diversity,” Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives & Chief Diversity Officer Taniecea A. Mallery, Ph.D., said. “On Wednesday, Sept. 9, it was a faculty-led panel discussion that was focused on highlighting faculty from the College of Liberal Arts.”
The following two events on Thursday, Sept 9. were the Guilbeau Center for Public History sponsored panel and the “Watch Your Step” privilege walk.
“The Guilbeau Center for Public History is sponsoring an online panel that is going to feature community members, organizers and social justice advocates who are going to talk about the Black experience of Acadiana, and that is part of a bigger project that the Guilbeau Center is launching called the ‘Shared Histories Project,’” Mallery said.
The “Watch Your Step” privilege walk was put on by the University Program Council from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday and was held in three parts.
The first part was an introduction by Emanual “Boo” Milton, an event emcee and community organizer, where he explained why the event was being put on.
“Basically just showing with societal norms that are in place and systematic things that are in place to give certain demographics an advantage in life.”
Maddie Bourgeois, the cultural director for UPC, spoke about what the goals of the event were.
“We want to raise awareness of privilege and how it’s not a bad thing, but it is something that we need to understand,” she said. “It’s definitely something we need to talk about with everything going on. We really wanted to create a safe space for students to come, come out, and have something to do.”
The “New Perspectives” panel also showcased privilege and the impact that not having faculty to relate to can have on students.
“There’s such an obvious disparity for black students on our campus,” Farrah Loston, a junior in nursing said. “There’s so many reasons why they don’t make it to the finish line and might become discouraged. They might not have the support they need.”
At the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, according to Mallery, the percentage of African-American faculty is 5%.
“Another really valuable part of this conversation is the voice of our Black faculty, particularly in an environment where they're so underrepresented,” Mallery said. “The last statistic I saw was that our Black faculty make up, a little over 5% of our faculty across the university.”
The importance of having diversity in faculty is not only because of the support they provide but also their ability to relate to students.
The program ended with deans from each college speaking about where the college stands now and how they can improve.
“I know you know that hiring is an issue because of supply,” Dean of the College of Business Administration Linda Nichols, Ph.D. said. “But there are things we can do. So, for instance, when we have guest speakers and classes. Let's find some diversity and our guest representatives.”