Wheaton has recently made great changes regarding its approach to fostering diversity and tolerance throughout the college. The new initiative and council is called CID (the Council on Inclusion and Diversity) and will replace the old board of the PACIE (President’s Action Committee on Inclusion Excellence). Both President Dennis Hanno and Associate Dean Raquel Ramos will be heading this new group.
The newly formed council currently has thirteen carefully selected members, consisting of students, faculty and staff. Each member plays an integral role in helping Wheaton create an atmosphere on campus that by its very nature will promote diversity and acceptance. The official goal of this initiative and the board is to “create a community that is welcoming and supportive of its members.”
The board itself was formed both because of Hanno’s arrival and in an effort to engage and include more students with the council. “As the new president I just think [Hanno] wanted to put his own spin on what the group was and learn about it before he started changing anything,” Dean Ramos said. “I don’t feel like his changes are drastic, I think that they make sense. He felt like he wanted it to be as inclusive a group as possible.”
The council has decided to focus on three major elements that will help to direct and guide the initiative toward its goal. The CID will concentrate on people (by increasing diversity among the student body and faculty), the environment (by making Wheaton a safe, accepting and tolerant place to live and grow) and focus outside of the campus (by seeking to improve and help resolve any issues of diversity or tolerance in the community).
The council plans on hosting many activities and events for students this semester. Some of these activities include, but are not limited to, supporting a field trip to see the movie Selma, faculty forums on challenges in the classroom and hosting an MLK interfaith service.
The council also hopes that this new direction will lead to positive improvement. Ramos explained that for a small-sized school, Wheaton has a lot of opportunity to grow culturally and diversify. “About 30 percent or so of the incoming class this year were international students and students of color, so that’s pretty impressive for a small school,” Ramos said. “That cross-pollination, mixing and learning about other cultures, and getting involved in cultural groups before [a student] goes abroad; I think there is opportunity for [all of] that here.”
Ramos also explained that the council might broaden the scope of their approach to diversity a bit more as well. “We are going to try to infuse some of the things we already do with diversity,” Ramos said. “[We can’t] only talk about race an culture, [we need to] talk about diversity of religion, we need to talk about LGBT, international students and their viewpoints and also there has been talk of including more diversity of learning styles as a part of the larger diversity umbrella.”
Ramos also explained that Hanno has asked for those interested to offer up a proposal or suggestion for a diversity program that would benefit the college. The grant for any of these diversity programs would be at about a thousand dollars.