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Letter to the Editor — ‘Diversity is more than just a pamphlet’

Letter to the Editor submitted by Kiah Duggins

Kiah+Duggins+is+featured+on+the+cover+of+the+Wichita+State+Student+Involvement+spring+2017+calendar.+
Kiah Duggins is featured on the cover of the Wichita State Student Involvement spring 2017 calendar.

Kiah Duggins is featured on the cover of the Wichita State Student Involvement spring 2017 calendar.

Evan Pflugradt

Evan Pflugradt

Kiah Duggins is featured on the cover of the Wichita State Student Involvement spring 2017 calendar.

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On the night of May 4th, at approximately the same time that Student Body President Emeritus Joseph Shepard was reportedly called a n*gger and his mother was reportedly assaulted, I gave a speech to some of Wichita State University’s biggest donors about how grateful I am for the opportunities I’ve had in college. While I publicly praised WSU at an event where I was 1 of approximately 2 Black guests in a room of over 100 people, the police responded to reports of a racially charged attack on campus.

The bitter irony of this night epitomizes my experience as a Black person at WSU.

For the last four years, I have been asked to positively represent the university, to be the diverse representative on various panels, to give speeches about my Shocker Experience to rooms full of faces that don’t look like mine. For the last four years, WSU has plastered my face all over informational pamphlets, high school agendas, websites and calendars. But for the last four years, WSU has largely ignored marginalized students’ requests for a fair and equitable college experience. For the last four years, historically marginalized students like myself have been used to promote Wichita State’s “most diverse public university in Kansas!” tagline, but many of them have not received an education at Wichita State that affirms and supports the diverse elements of their identities.

The alleged anti-Black attack on May 4th was neither random nor surprising. Marginalized students have been calling attention to discriminatory treatment at WSU for years. Over 45 percent of people who took a campus climate survey in the fall of 2016 reported that they have heard discriminatory verbal comments on WSU’s campus, and 68 percent of people who reported a discriminatory incident at WSU were not satisfied with how it was handled. During the Islamophobic Interfaith Prayer Space incident of 2015, many affected students expressed that they did not feel protected or valued by the university. Students have repeatedly called attention to data from WSU’s Office of Planning and Analysis, which shows that Black students receive less scholarship dollars from WSU than White students despite being more likely to be low-income. Marginalized students have attempted to meet with WSU administrators and collectively work on requiring diversity training for faculty and staff, bridging the academic achievement and retention gaps, and finding financial resources for low-income students. Although WSU’s administration has conducted numerous discussions and formed numerous committees, the administration has enacted few actionable steps to demonstrate that students’ aforementioned concerns have been taken seriously.

WSU hears me and other marginalized students when our experiences and accomplishments fit the university’s questionable narratives about being diverse and inclusive, but the university seems to become much less receptive to our voices when students’ diverse needs highlight WSU’s conflicts of interest. I am beyond grateful for all of the opportunities and privileges that WSU has afforded me, but it should not take allegations of physical and verbal violence for the university to hear the students who it often asks to speak on its behalf.

13 Comments

13 Responses to “Letter to the Editor — ‘Diversity is more than just a pamphlet’”

  1. Ted D. Ayres on May 10th, 2017 6:32 pm

    Kiah: thank you for speaking your mind and sharing your experience and opinions. You are appreciated and admired. We must keep working for the improvement of our beloved university.

    [Reply]

  2. Thanks on May 10th, 2017 9:24 pm

    Thank you for saying what needs to be said.

    [Reply]

  3. Ed Baker on May 11th, 2017 10:20 am

    Kiah:
    Thank you for your wisdom and honesty.
    Thank you for the “Privilege Check.”
    Thank you for helping us to move our University Forward and Upward!

    [Reply]

  4. Emily schlenker on May 11th, 2017 10:42 am

    I think sometimes it is hard to feel privileged when you are getting things that other students don’t have to struggle so hard for. Sorry if the school is treating you like a token.

    [Reply]

  5. Question on May 11th, 2017 4:16 pm

    A genuine question: In what ways do black students not receive “a fair and equitable college experience?”

    [Reply]

    Kayla Reply:

    “Over 45 percent of people who took a campus climate survey in the fall of 2016 reported that they have heard discriminatory verbal comments on WSU’s campus, and 68 percent of people who reported a discriminatory incident at WSU were not satisfied with how it was handled.”

    Getting called the n word by members of their community.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    What about staff members who didn’t receive a promotion, and instead, the University decided to hire a minority because they have a goal to “promote diversity among faculty and staff”?. If the goal of the university is to increase diversity, does that mean hiring/promoting white people go against the mission of the university?

    [Reply]

    Answer Reply:

    The second to last paragraph answers your question.

    [Reply]

  6. Benjamin Loyd on May 17th, 2017 1:52 pm

    Is it possible that a higher percentage of white students take high school more seriously than black students. That could easily be why more whites get scholarships. Sometimes less qualified minorities get accepted over more qualified white students because of stupid diversity quotas.. You dont see white people complaining about that!!! Bottom line is the person with the highest qualifications should have priority, no matter the race. Sick of people my age and younger always making everything about race. Quit being so sensitive. If someone says something mean, brush that dirt off your shoulder and use that hateful words to make yourself tough. HAVE SOME GRIT

    [Reply]

    A. P. Vague Reply:

    The idea that “you don’t see white people complaining about that” is out of touch twofold. Decrying affirmative action is a very common political activity among conservatives despite its obvious flaws–not the least of which is that the data simply doesn’t show that white people are hindered by diversity efforts.

    [Reply]

    Benjamin Loyd Reply:

    What do you not understand, its reverse racism to deny a white person a position because diversity quotas must be met, this also leads to the best qualified citizens sometimes not getting jobs over less qualified citizens, which leads to the country being worse off. THE PPL WHO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS THE BEST SHOULD BE AFFORDED OPPORTUNITIES, RACE AND ECONOMICS SHOULD FORM NOT PART OF QUALIFICATIONS.

    [Reply]

    Benjamin Loyd Reply:

    How is this out of touch??? The whole country is hurt by forced diversity. Forcing diversity is racism in a way. We are past race, we are all americans. Forcing diversity lowers standards, lowering standards leads to less qualified ppl attaining important jobs. If my sister is a 4.0 student, but gets denied a scholarship because she is white and too many white ppl have already taken up those ships, so then a less qualified minority with a 3.8 gpa gets the ship, that is not right!!! So much for the awful theory of white privilege. White males are at more of a disadvantage these days! Call me to meet up and talk!!! 316-518-1599

    [Reply]

  7. Benjamin Loyd on May 23rd, 2017 2:18 pm

    All these colleges like to suppress opinions like mine, haha by the same ppl who are preaching to me that we must be open minded, how ironic! Its their way, or the highway.

    [Reply]

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