On May 4, student leaders and university administrators met to discuss fostering a better racial climate at AU in wake of the recent hate crime on campus. They had a frank conversation about how to address the needs of minorities and create a more welcoming community. The main points of the discussion were:
- New AU Student Government President Taylor Dumpson emphasized that AU must be proactive in combating racism. All agreed with certain basic principles moving forward: communication, action, responsibility, transparency, and accountability.
- Transparency was a key theme. Dumpson asked AU officials to provide status updates as often as possible. President Neil Kerwin stressed the need to deliver accurate information to students.
- Building trust is imperative. Dumpson reiterated the need for open door communication and accessibility. Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice Provost Mary Clark suggested that gatherings that are more informal could improve campus tensions.
- School of Education Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy asked Dumpson how she would measure success, and what she would want AU to look like a year from now. Dumpson said she hopes students of color will feel more comfortable on AU’s campus academically and interpersonally. She suggested periodic surveys to gauge levels of student satisfaction.
- Race conversations that reach a broader audience are important to all participants. Dumpson said she wants to bring people together through shared governance and common spaces.
- Kerwin praised Dumpson’s leadership at this difficult time and expressed optimism about AU’s future.