One in three students said they have experienced or witnessed discrimination, according to a poll conducted by The Bulletin.

That number is too high. It’s too high at any university and it’s especially too high at Emporia State, as a college that consistently touts its dedication to diversity.

Within ESU’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan, Goal Five states that ESU will develop and maintain a campus climate that’s dedicated to embracing diversity. One in three students experiencing or witnessing discrimination doesn’t sound like it falls in line with that plan.

It’s time for the university to actually commit to diversity, instead of just talking about it. Saying that ESU is dedicated to diversity and to create a diverse campus climate isn’t enough when students concerns, again and again, are all related to issues surrounding diversity.

Talking about it isn’t enough anymore. 

Associated Student Government and ESU administration need to directly respond to students, instead of sending out evasive statements.

One in three students is too high to keep people in the dark.

Administration and ASG aren’t doing enough to address the concerns of one-third of the student body.

ASG opened up the gallery to student comments during a senate meeting and their Diversity and Inclusion Committee used their time to allow students to share their thoughts and concerns. But it isn’t enough.

President Allison Garrett sent out a statement to students, faculty and staff, regarding “campus concerns.”

“I am personally committed to assuring that we continue a campus-wide dialogue for the purpose of developing a deeper understanding of these issues and a constructive path forward,” Garrett wrote in the email.

The statement, which also listed reporting resources for students, gave no indication of what the concern on campus is, sounds a lot like “come to us for help, but don’t talk about it with each other.”

“Let us help, but don’t address the real issues and hide behind generalizations,” is the tone behind the statement.

Yet, how can we address and understand these “issues” when the university and student government won’t even directly state what they are?

These vague statements that don’t give any indication of the concerns on campus aren’t enough.

Not when one in three students have experienced or witnessed discrimination.

Not when these concerns about discrimination and the concerns of students reflect the divide that split Kansas during the gubernatorial race earlier this month. 

And not when these concerns reflect the polarization and divide of our nation as a whole.

It’s time for administration and student government to provide leadership for students and the university, rather than relying on canned phrases and statements.

You can’t lead without addressing student concerns. The time for leaving students in the dark is over.

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