By: Sofia B. Pertuz
Dean of Students and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs
Dear Hofstra Chronicle Editors,
I am responding to the opinion piece, “Black History Month: Thanks, but no thanks” published in the March 1, 2016 edition of The Hofstra Chronicle. As Dean of Students, I value student opinions and want all students to experience Hofstra University as a welcoming and inclusive campus where all are free to express themselves. In environments that embrace free expression, occasional examples surface, such as this one, that demonstrate the need for additional education around topics of diversity. How we respond to these examples define us as individuals and as a community. Creating educational opportunities around areas of diversity has always been a high priority for me, so I am glad students have reached out to me and The Chronicle to share their thoughts.
The Division of Students Affairs is working on many initiatives to actively engage the campus community and create spaces where students share and discuss their experiences with each other, while also honoring the fact that we all come from different backgrounds. The combination of our individual differences is what makes us a stronger community. With these differences, however, also comes many differing perspectives, some of which may be unpopular and even hurtful. We must become better as a community, in learning how to express differing opinions in civil ways that encourage dialogue and learning.
During the last few months, Provost Gail Simmons and I hosted several student forums for discussions on diversity at Hofstra University and there are many more to come. A recent initiative designed to raise awareness about campus diversity issues and provide a structured voice for students was the formation of a Dean of Students Diversity Advisory Board that meets weekly to discuss ways to create an inclusive campus environment. This group hopes to coordinate some campus-wide diversity discussions and programs promoting our diversity on campus.
There are several campus resources available for students who want to discuss topics of diversity. A specific resource I would like to share with you is the recently formed Office of Intercultural Engagement and Inclusion (IEI) in the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement located in room 260 on the second floor of the Student Center. IEI staff include Gillian Atkinson, Associate Director, and Chad Freeman, Assistant Director. This week from Monday through Thursday, IEI staff will be hosting a series of Diversity Dialogues from 3:45pm to 4:45pm. Additionally, I am available to meet with students by appointment, but I also have open office hours every Wednesday from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. Students can stop in without an appointment during this time.
I hope you can join us for upcoming diversity discussions and other events to be planned in the near future. Dates and details will be shared with all students via email once we have them confirmed. Thank you for your time and this opportunity to share my thoughts and my hope for continued student engagement and strong campus community.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the Op-Ed section are those of the authors of the articles. They are not an endorsement of the views of The Chronicle or its staff. The Chronicle does not discriminate based on the opinions of the authors.