Mallett associate provost candidate

Director of Diversity and Inclusion Justin Mallett speaks at a forum Aug. 24, 2018. Mallett, the second candidate for the new associate provost of diversity and inclusion position, spoke at two forums with students and University employees Monday Sept. 23. 

The University held two open forums for students and employees with Director of Diversity and Inclusion Justin Mallett, the second candidate for the new associate provost of diversity and inclusion position, Sept. 23.

This position will bring diversity and inclusion under the office of the provost, according to University President John Jasinski’s newsletter “All that Jazz,” in an effort to decrease the gap in retention and graduation rates between majority and minority students.

With diversity and inclusion being brought under academics, equity will fall under Student Affairs, which is in the process of hiring a new Title IX coordinator.

Mallett has served as director of diversity and inclusion since 2017. In that time, he said the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has done a lot for underrepresented students, but could focus on having a more “inclusive mindset” and focus on issues beyond race.

“There are white students who go through some of the same things that a lot of the black students go through,” Mallett said. “There are white students who are poor; there are white students that are underprepared; there are white students that struggle in their day-to-day life.”

Mallett said inclusion extends to age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and urban versus rural upbringings. He said inclusive language in the classroom and on syllabuses is a big issue right now.

Specifically, he said faculty including pronouns when introducing themselves and on their syllabuses would set an example for students, normalize establishing pronouns as part of conversation and make transgender and nonbinary students feel more comfortable in the classroom.

The biggest failure of DEI in his time, Mallett said, was centering efforts and funds on programming for black students, seeing no tangible changes in graduation and retention rates in that demographic.

“Now what we see is how can we be equitable across the board,” Mallett said. “If we’re going to send the Black Student Union to a conference, are we going to send HERO (Helping Everyone Regardless of Orientation) to a conference? … I think that we have to define our roles clearer if we’re going to say that we’re going to be inclusive.”

Mallett said taking on this new role would change his perspective and approach to the student body from a grassroots approach to a higher, overarching perspective.

“It’s going to be tough, because I’ve always had that student interaction piece as a huge part of who I am. I always say it makes Justin, Justin,” Mallett said. “One thing that I’ve come to grips with is even though I’m looking at everything from a much broader scope … I’m still helping students, but at a much greater level.”

Mallett said another shortcoming of DEI that he aims to correct is making diversity and inclusion campus-wide issues. He said rather than DEI solving every problem for every student, he would like to empower faculty and staff with the tools to handle those issues with their students.

Senior David Anzures said he has seen many changes to DEI in his four years here, but won’t be here after graduation to see how this new position will affect campus. However, he said he was content with Mallett’s responses to his questions and thought the changes Mallett proposed will be positive.

“I think I’m just used to how the DEI functioned two to four years ago, and seeing a shift into more educational or personal based approach makes sense instead of strong event planning, especially seeing how understaffed the DEI is now,” Anzures said. “I have high hopes if he were to be accepted into this position.”

Forums were also held Aug. 26 with the first candidate for the position, Ade Oredein of Owensboro, Kentucky. The University has not said if Oredein is still a candidate for the position or when the hiring decision will be made.

The University held two open forums for students and employees with Director of Diversity and Inclusion Justin Mallett, the second candidate for the new associate provost of diversity and inclusion position, Sept. 23.

This position will bring diversity and inclusion under the office of the provost, according to University President John Jasinski’s newsletter “All that Jazz,” in an effort to decrease the gap in retention and graduation rates between majority and minority students.

With diversity and inclusion being brought under academics, equity will fall under Student Affairs, which is in the process of hiring a new Title IX coordinator.

Mallett has served as director of diversity and inclusion since 2017. In that time, he said the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has done a lot for underrepresented students, but could focus on having a more “inclusive mindset” and focus on issues beyond race.

“There are white students who go through some of the same things that a lot of the black students go through,” Mallett said. “There are white students who are poor; there are white students that are underprepared; there are white students that struggle in their day-to-day life.”

Mallett said inclusion extends to age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and urban versus rural upbringings. He said inclusive language in the classroom and on syllabuses is a big issue right now.

Specifically, he said faculty including pronouns when introducing themselves and on their syllabuses would set an example for students, normalize establishing pronouns as part of conversation and make transgender and nonbinary students feel more comfortable in the classroom.

The biggest failure of DEI in his time, Mallett said, was centering efforts and funds on programming for black students, seeing no tangible changes in graduation and retention rates in that demographic.

“Now what we see is how can we be equitable across the board,” Mallett said. “If we’re going to send the Black Student Union to a conference, are we going to send HERO (Helping Everyone Regardless of Orientation) to a conference? … I think that we have to define our roles clearer if we’re going to say that we’re going to be inclusive.”

Mallett said taking on this new role would change his perspective and approach to the student body from a grassroots approach to a higher, overarching perspective.

“It’s going to be tough, because I’ve always had that student interaction piece as a huge part of who I am. I always say it makes Justin, Justin,” Mallett said. “One thing that I’ve come to grips with is even though I’m looking at everything from a much broader scope … I’m still helping students, but at a much greater level.”

Mallett said another shortcoming of DEI that he aims to correct is making diversity and inclusion campus-wide issues. He said rather than DEI solving every problem for every student, he would like to empower faculty and staff with the tools to handle those issues with their students.

Forums were also held Aug. 26 with the first candidate for the position, Ade Oredein of Owensboro, Kentucky. The University has not said if Oredein is still a candidate for the position or when the hiring decision will be made.

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