This past week, Emporia State brought two candidates to campus to speak with students, faculty and staff as they considered them for the Senior Diversity Officer position in our administration.
We, as the editors of The Bulletin, fully intended on going into this week’s staff editorial with a choice: Candidate A was better than Candidate B, and here’s why.
We were looking at each candidate based on a multitude of criteria points, from transparency, goals and focus on outreach to how well they related to students on our campus, because let’s be real - changing our campus for the betterment of diversity and inclusion is a pretty remarkable feat.
We were excited going into these sessions and hearing the candidates talk about their credentials, their stories and their goals for ESU.
However, as we left, we were stumped. These candidates were amazing. Impressive. They absolutely blew us away and, truth be told, ESU should consider itself damned lucky to get either one onto our campus.
But who do we pick? Both candidates had outstanding resumes and backgrounds.
Who do we endorse?
One candidate, Aswad Allen, comes from a disadvantage background and has experience in negotiating between students and administrators. He also emphasized the importance of institutional changes when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
The other candidate, TaJuan Wilson, believes in “cultural consciousness,” a new notion for us, in which one is never really finished learning about diversity and inclusion. He emphasized the importance of impacting change and training sessions.
So which one is more important?
An administrator from a disadvantaged background who can relate to and negotiate with students or an administrator experienced in cultivating environments where students can feel safe being themselves, both of whom understand the importance of institutional change?
And that’s when it hit us. This is the problem with diversity and inclusion on our campus.
We’re in a constant negotiation of priorities and of which characteristic is more important, when the answer is right in front of us: for us to succeed as a campus and for us to truly succeed in our university’s undertaking of Goal 5: Being a model of diversity, equity and inclusion, we need both.
We need both of these diverse voices and both of these priorities.
We need more leaders of color on our campus.
We need more diverse voices.
But, let’s be honest, money is an issue here. Can the campus afford to provide salaries for TWO amazing candidates when they were only looking for one?
We think so. If it’s really a priority, the money can be moved around and found.
And wouldn’t you be willing to pay more tuition to have an additional administrator who really cares about diversity and is willing to go to bat for the students in our time of need?
But before it comes to that, we hope ESU will “put their money where their goals are” and fund these two amazing candidates and find a place for them amongst our ranks.