USS Leaks Diversity Report
In a bold and potentially controversial move, the University Student Senate leaked a previously confidential report that criticizes The New School’s record on diversity and social justice.
“Desegregating Diversity: From Myth to Mandate,” released on November 19, was commissioned by the provost’s office and is the culmination of a several-month long inquiry by a group of faculty and staff. The report finds that The New School has neglected its responsibility to facilitate a diverse academic environment, from a lack of faculty and administrators of color to a lack of organizational support for the LGBTQ community, at the university.
The USS released a cover letter with the report that said they believed the university community needed to see the report. “[The USS] has a positive obligation, as student representatives, to bring issues impacting students up for public discussion,” the letter read.
“We recognize that this move may concern those who have chosen to not yet release the report,” it added. “However, we believe a greater harm is done by withholding this information from the community.”
In an e-mail to the Free Press, Provost Tim Marshall said that the report was never intended for public release. “[It] is actually a discussion document from a small group after doing some research across the university,” he wrote. “There’s no opposition to the principles or intentions of the report and in fact much of the work it recommended is beginning to move forward.”
The report was completed last November, but the provost’s office was still waiting for The New School’s social justice committee to approve it.
Jesse Villalobos, co-chair of the working group and associate director for Social Justice Initiatives, said that he supports the transparency of information and hopes the report can bring together student groups that work with social justice issues. “If this can be an opportunity to help fulfill some of those critical issues related to those student groups, then I think it can be a good thing,” he said.
The report suggests that a “lack of vision and leadership” within The New School’s administrative hierarchy has led to an absence of organizational infrastructure that considers the interests of students of different racial and sexual backgrounds. The report makes several recommendations to the administration, namely creating administrative positions that exist specifically to promote diversity and social justice causes at the school. The report also criticizes the lack of diversity amongst the university’s faculty and administration and recommends steps to take in order to correct this shortcoming.
The USS will hold a town-hall style meeting on December 1 to discuss the report and the issues it raises. The USS hopes to gain more public input and spark a discussion about diversity at The New School. USS co-chair Anna-Karin Loureiro told the Free Press she wants the town hall to be a “collective, informative gathering of our community.”
Student senator Chris Crews hopes the meeting “creates a bigger discussion on campus” about matters of social injustice and brings together different students and parties at The New School that are interested in the issue, “putting those people in the same room so they have a chance to dialogue and network.”