Students voice concerns during diversity VP search forum

Students offered both criticism and suggestions during a vice president search forum Tuesday

REBECCA WHITE, Evergreen assistant news editor

The university is searching for an associate vice president of community, equity and inclusive excellence, a new position, created after a racist video depicting WSU students surfaced last spring. The position is one of several items on the university’s campus climate initiative. The second position is a new associate vice president of Student Affairs.

Nicklaus McHendry, a student and social justice peer educator, expressed concerns about how accessible the new leaders would be. McHendry said other WSU leaders, specifically President Kirk Schulz, have been criticized for not participating in campus events and utilizing social media to interact with students instead.

“While that is part of communicating with students, again, physical engagement, talking to other individuals is how you actually form relationships with students,” McHendry said. “It can be frustrating more than productive to see someone who’s on Twitter saying things and making their position known, who don’t actually engage.”

Another student expressed similar concerns regarding administrative engagement. Jesus Hernandez, the ASWSU senator for the Carson College of Business and a member of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán club on campus, told the search firm he had never seen a high-up university leader attend a MEChA meeting.

In addition to participating with student groups in their events, he said he hopes the new administrators will stay informed on incidents on campus and any accompanying activism.

“What are they going to do to understand the student voice?” Hernandez asked.

Most of the questions and comments during the forum were addressed to representatives from the recruiting firm Isaacson, Miller, the same company that gathered candidates for the last WSU presidential search, which resulted in the hiring of Schulz in early 2016.

Julie Filizetti, the vice president of Isaacson, Miller, said the feedback gathered at the student and earlier faculty forum, along with private meetings, will be used to create a university-specific job description, which should be completed next month.

The next on-campus step will be bringing in their top candidates for interviews, which she estimates will happen mid-spring semester.

She said this search will be more open than the presidential search, with students able to meet the candidates at a forum next semester.