Monday, October 26, 2020

Blueprint Party lays foundation for unity

            Students gathered in SUNY Plattsburgh’s Community H.U.B. for a night full of open discussion, generating ideas, and key challenges being addressed in regards to the issue of diversity and inclusion on campus.

The first “Blueprint Party” took place at two separate times Oct.29; one meeting was at 2 p.m. specifically for faculty and staff and the next was at 7 p.m., specifically meant for students. The purpose of both meetings was to give students the opportunity to share their views on the H.U.B. and open discussion for ways the space could be improved.

The Community H.U.B. opened it’s space in spring 2019 in the Angell College Center, in an intent to let students become more interactive in a welcoming space. The H.U.B., which stands for Honoring, Uniting and Building, is open to all students, faculty/staff, alumni and members of the local community who want to be a part of diverse experiences on campus.

However, the main concern addressed by the 50 students was the lack of faculty and staff within the H.U.B. during the day.

“I’ve had students tell me that they would hope there were more faculty and staff in the H.U.B.,” Assistant Political Science Professor John McMahon said. “I’m not sure how widespread that is.”

An issue that was addressed during the meeting, faculty and staff representation was the first among many. Other discussions included; a sense of belonging, Inclusion, acceptance, racism, student’s being able to utilize their voices and access to specific resources.

Students were also asked to think critically of Plattsburgh State’s past and present in terms of obstacles, oppressive events and the reluctance and hesitation of addressing diversity.

According to Sean Rice, Coordinator of Multicultural Initiatives, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Department will be starting an implementation of awareness campaigns across the SUNY Plattsburgh community immediately, and working on the expansion of diversity.

“Students stated that they have enjoyed the programs that have been held in the space, the staff to student interactions and they look forward to what’s to come,” Rice said. “But, an opportunity for improvement is bringing more awareness to the community HUB.”

Making students more aware the H.U.B. exists will give unaware students a place of belonging and unity, a safe space on campus. The H.U.B. also works with Title IX to ensure there is no seclusion.

“It’s a way to bring different parts of campus together,” McMahon said. “To formulate ideas that can be used to devise a new diversity layout.”

In Diversity and Inclusion within the next five years, Rice hopes to see an increase in enrollment of marginalized students and an increase in retention of diverse student populations. The Blueprint Party was the first step to adding more programs into the H.U.B., as well as diversity, equity and inclusion events.

There also has been an increase of student organization collaborations, something Rice hopes to see continue. There are also plans to have more Blueprint Parties in future semesters to continue addressing changing concerns.

“There will be more events in the future to ensure that students have a sense of ownership of the space and diversity work,” Rice said. “The programmatic efforts will not only mirror the students’ concerns, but they will also tackle uniting faculty and students into both intentional and meaningful partnerships.”

In continuation of the discussion of diversity and inclusion improvement on campus, the Blueprint was deemed a success. In the next few ones, the department plans on implementing more changes drafted by student concern.

“It’s an opportunity to have conversations with people who are different from ourselves in terms of identity.” McMahon said. “It asks us to take a pause and take a step back, and challenge us in ways that we are and ways we aren’t supporting our students, and hopefully collectively transform it so we are.”

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