Racism task force to receive feedback on recommendations during April 17 public forum

Members of the Western Carolina University community will have an opportunity to provide feedback on a set of recommendations put forth by the university’s task force on racism during a forum set for 2 to 3 p.m. Monday, April 17, in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center.

Kathleen Brennan, task force chair and head of WCU’s Department of Anthropology and Sociology, said she will provide a brief overview of the work of the task force and its recommendation report during the forum. The report is available online and accessed with the standard university username and password. A handout detailing the recommendations also will be available for attendees.

Brennan said she submitted the report to the leadership of WCU’s Faculty Senate on April 11. That body is expected to vote on whether to endorse the recommendations at its meeting Thursday, April 20.

“Based on the very strong support for the draft recommendation report that we received from Faculty Senate at the March 29 meeting, we anticipate the final recommendation report will be endorsed, then formally passed on to the administration,” Brennan said.

Representatives of the Office of the Chancellor, Office of the Provost and Division of Student Affairs are expected to attend the forum to hear the feedback, she said. The final report also has been informally shared with WCU administration, Brennan said.

The task force was organized in response to a resolution that was approved by Faculty Senate at its April 2016 meeting, and then later approved by the chancellor. The resolution was first proposed by a small group of WCU faculty members in response to racially charged social media comments and campus chalkings that occurred last academic year.

The task force includes four students, four staff members and four faculty members. WCU’s chief diversity officer, Ricardo Nazario Colón, and dean of students, Kevin Koett, serve in an advisory capacity.

Also related to race relations on campus, the results from a “Campus Climate Survey on Race and Ethnicity,” which was administered by the divisions of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, will not be ready for review in time for the April 17 forum, Brennan said. The survey is expected to provide data that will be used to guide future activities related to race and ethnicity education, recruitment and programming.