Director of equal opportunity open forums continue


Ellyn Bartges is a candidate for the Director of Equal Opportunity.

Jake Dalbey

The second of four open forums to determine the future director of equal opportunity took place Monday at Morrill Hall.

Ellyn Bartges, former director of equal opportunity and access at St.Cloud University and former assistant women’s basketball coach at Penn State, spoke at 3 p.m. about the challenges facing universities today. She also touched on the importance of cultural acceptance.

Bartges started by addressing the ISU campus as a whole, praising its past of embracing a mixed-race campus as well as raising leaders in the field of equal opportunity such as George Washington Carver and Jack Trice.

“These people were just one of many examples of how Iowa State looks at and embraces diversity,” Bartges said.

Being racially and culturally diverse was a large talking point for Bartges, as she believes, without that, acceptance issues will continue to erupt on campuses.

“If people continue to ignore the problems with diversity we have in America, we’ll have more issues like in Missouri,” Bartges said.

In keeping with the theme of creating a diverse campus, Bartges used the example of well-trained staff as a way to keep students happy. She explained that there’s a need for more affirmative action officials rather than just human resource professionals and that such a change will help solve current student issues. 

Much like the previous open forum, Bartges touched on student debt as a problem for not just Iowa State but the entire nation, claiming that poor state management of funds accounts for some of the problems.

“We can’t just keep encouraging students to take thousands of dollars in loans with rates as high as they are,” Bartges said. People in their 40s didn’t experience rates like they are now. I graduated with no debt and it’s because states did their part and now they aren’t.”

Bartges also hopes to do more to help accommodate students with disabilities, mental illnesses and disorders. 

“Many of these students fall under ADA accommodations,” Bartges said. “You see this increase in, say, service animals, which are different than therapy dogs, and so you begin to wonder, who can take care of those animals? Or a roommate has an allergy to a service animal; who moves in that situation? There’s a lot of room for definition and creating policies for these students.”

Finally, Bartges spoke on how she would be seen on campus and her style of interacting with students and staff.

“I’ll try to be a part of the dean’s council, go to Student Government, or the faculty association. I think it’s important for whoever has this job makes a clear statement that they are indeed here such as “Please stop by my office, here’s where it’s located,” Bartges said.” At the end of the day, it’s all about whoever is hired getting out and meeting as many people as possible.”

Open forums for the director of equal opportunity position will continue Thursday with Margo Foreman, who is scheduled to speak at Hoover Hall.