Next president should focus on diversity

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September 5, 2008

1:26 PM

The College of William and Mary chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, commends Interim College President Taylor Reveley for the work he has done these last six months.

Healing the College community after such a tumultuous year is no easy task, yet Reveley has taken on this challenge with great humility and determination. The College’s NAACP believes Reveley has made great strides, and we are committed to helping him achieve the reconciliation needed to advance our esteemed university.

The College is a unique institution that faces very real challenges — challenges we hope our next president will fully commit himself or herself to addressing. There is perhaps no greater challenge than overcoming the College’s lack of adequate financial resources. The future of programs like the Gateway initiative, which the College’s NAACP strongly supports, will forever remain uncertain if more resources are not found and made available. Although we are truly grateful for Reveley and the Board of Visitors’ current initiative to raise a $10 million Gateway endowment, we believe such an amount, while a good start, is not enough.

It is also not enough to simply make our campus “diverse.” It must also be inclusive. To do this, greater cross-cultural exposure, dialogue and understanding is desperately needed. Too often we hold cross-cultural understanding as an ideal without providing the adequate financial and physical resources needed to achieve it. Rival institutions like the University of Virginia, Georgetown University and Duke University have far surpassed us when it comes to the number of services and the amount of physical space devoted to cultural education and programming. Our efforts to become a global university will continue to be impeded if we do not make greater headway on this front. Our next College president must take the lead.

Lastly, we hope to have a president who will make a genuine effort to reach out to multicultural alumni. Past and recent negative experiences have caused many to become disengaged in the affairs of the College. Current students of color have much to gain from those who have come before them and succeeded. They cannot rebuild these bridges alone. The support of the College administration, led by the president, is needed.

As we await the decision regarding the College presidency, the College’s NAACP simply wishes to thank Reveley for all that he has done and will continue to do to address these matters. We also hope that the BOV will bear in mind the concerns expressed by the College community and proceed in a manner that is both transparent and truly representative of faculty, staff and student sentiment and opinion.

Justin Reid is a senior at the College and president of the College’s NAACP chapter.

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