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Task force to represent student feedback about on-campus diversity

Aaron Thao, AS Commissioner of Diversity Affairs, discusses the importance of student involvement on campus. Photo courtesy of Aaron Thao.

Aaron Thao, AS Commissioner of Diversity Affairs, discusses the importance of student involvement on campus. Photo courtesy of Aaron Thao.


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The Associated Students recently created a task force on diversity to get a better understanding of how to serve students.

“The goal of the task force is to capture what students feel about diversity on our campus,” said Michael Pratt, director of University Affairs for Associated Students. “[It’s] for us to get a better understanding of the needs and wants of our student populations because right now, it’s really speculative.”

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Michael Pratt, AS Director of University Affairs, emphasizes diversity on campus and how the Diversity Task Force will help solve problems related to diversity. Photo courtesy of Michael Pratt.

Pratt is one of four members from Associated Students that works on the Special Joint Task Force on Diversity. The task force was approved by the student academic senate and with the goal to create a student diversity survey.

The task force hopes the survey will provide more information regarding students input about diversity at Chico State.

On Nov. 16, President Paul Zingg sent a campus-wide email that addressed issues of diversity on campus. Chico State is still working on accepting diversity as fundamentally important on campus, he said.

“Our campus as a whole has not yet embraced diversity as a core value, as a core commitment, for which all of us are accountable and responsible,” Zingg said in the announcement.

Several other students that currently hold seats on the task force are not members of Associated Students. Their purpose is to represent varying campus perspectives. Some of the populations represented by these students include veterans and undocumented students, Pratt said.

“Far too often no one asks students,” he said. “They just assume that certain things are happening. It’s hard to really capture all the things that are going on.”

The task force plans to release the survey results in the spring, according to Deanna Jarquin, AS president.

The survey, which is available on the AS website, provides the chance to directly hear from students, he said. While Chico State currently has a University Diversity Council, its members are primarily composed of faculty, staff and administration.

Aaron Thao, AS Commissioner of Diversity Affairs, is the only student representative on the council, Pratt said.

Thao is one of the creators of the task force. It is important for Chico State to continually assess the changing student demographics on campus, he said.

“Our underserved student body is more than just numbers, they are what make our university a vibrant, diverse and multicultural community,” Thao said.

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Aaron Thao, AS Commissioner of Diversity Affairs, discusses the importance of student involvement on campus. Photo courtesy of Aaron Thao.

Another way Thao hopes to assess and serve different student populations on campus is by reviewing Chico State’s Diversity Action Plan. The task force will also make recommendations for different councils and committees on campus, he said.

The task force plans to include and represent a variety of student perspectives.

“As AS president, I can provide a broader viewpoint of how students think about diversity on campus,” Jarquin said.

Jarquin can provide different perspectives from her involvement with the Cross Cultural Leadership Center and as a multicultural and gender studies major, but she hopes her involvement with the task force can provide more concrete evidence of students’ opinions on diversity.

While Chico State wants to provide acceptance to all types of students on campus, Jarquin said this may not always happen.

“I am 100 percent sure there are students on this campus who are facing discrimination on a day-to-day basis,” she said.

The task force is designed to provide administration with more data to help the campus community have more awareness of diversity on campus.

“People feel alienated in our community,” Jarquin said. “We want to say, ‘What are we really doing to serve these students?’”

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Deanna Jarquin, AS President, believes that student opinions of diversity on campus matter. Photo courtesy of Deanna Jarquin.

Thao believes Chico State needs more resources to serve more student populations on campus. With the data from the survey, AS can move forward in assisting different student groups on campus.

Although more resources can be implemented to increase student inclusion, Jarquin said it’s important to make use of the resources that are currently available.

“Silence is such a powerful and oppressive tool,” she said. “If something does happen to you, whether that’s regarding diversity or sexual violence, we have resources on this campus where you can go to feel supported.”

Elizabeth Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or @ElizabethC718 on Twitter.

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Task force to represent student feedback about on-campus diversity