Editorial: Diversity position addresses need at ISU

Editorial Board

President Steven Leath announced the chief diversity officer position in 2013 after The Jackson Consulting Firm conducted a comprehensive study of Iowa State’s diversity programs and initiatives. One of the firm’s recommendations was creating the position.

Now, roughly one year later, four finalists have been selected by the committee for the position. The finalists are making the rounds to introduce themselves to students.

William Lewis, one of the candidates for the position, discussed his views on inclusion at a public forum in the Pioneer Hall of the Memorial Union. Lewis is the former vice president of diversity and inclusion at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

There was a great need for this position based on the wide variety of backgrounds within our student population at Iowa State in 2013. This need has grown exponentially this year, especially in light of the standoff between a Cy-Hawk tailgate attendee and a student protester.

Senior Jovani Rubio protested Donald Trump’s comments about undocumented immigrants during Saturday’s festivities at Jack Trice Stadium, which Trump attended. A West Des Moines woman walked up to Rubio during his peaceful protest and ripped his poster after muttering something about white supremacy.

This event is one of the multiple examples on or near our campus that shows the need for someone to aid diversity integration.

Diversity is obvious everywhere on campus. But ensuring all backgrounds are mixed in our melting pot of a campus is not so obvious to students. Students often stay within their own comfort zone, which usually includes those who share similar backgrounds.

Multicultural students are often seen with other multicultural students, and the same goes for international students.

The fact that students outside of these groups expect that multicultural or international students will adjust to them is where the new vice president of diversity will play a huge role.

The Daily had the opportunity to sit down with Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Hill and his cabinet and meet with representatives of many areas on campus before classes started. Ali Soltanshahi, the program coordinator for International Students and Scholars, works with international students on their experiences at Iowa State.

He talked in the meeting about how international students seem to be expected to adjust to culture in the U.S., but it’s a two-way street. Students outside of these groups should also take steps to include and interact with multicultural and international students.

The university has already made it known the position has been created. 

Whoever is selected to fill said position has his or her work cut out for them to not only meet the expectations of university bigwigs, but students as well. 

Candidates, like Lewis, have shared their goals as the vice president of diversity and inclusion. For example, Lewis has planned a listening tour to really get a feel for changes that need to be made on campus.

But announcing a platform during the election process is a lot different than following through after they’ve been elected. 

We, as students, have a responsibility to hold the selected candidate accountable for the goals they have set for themselves, now.

After all, this is our campus and we are the ones that make up our diverse population. Only we can really see what improvements need to be made by the individual selected for the position of vice president of diversity and inclusion.