Gloria Browne-Marshall, a renowned attorney and associate professor of constitutional law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, spoke to Hofstra students and faculty at the inaugural address of the new Center for “Race,” Culture and Social Justice.
Attendees of the event hung on Browne-Marshall’s words as she spoke about the importance of analyzing the changing nature of our principles and taking proper action to reflect those values.
In her address, Browne-Marshall urged her audience to examine the power of people to be inclusive when dealing with issues of diversity. She advocated for an examination of modern liberalism as the country continues to deal with issues of discrimination.
“Think about the power Hofstra has at this moment with this center. Think about joining and forging a more inclusive campus, and your dream will be a reality,” Browne-Marshall said.
Browne-Marshall asked the Hofstra community to look to the future and cultivate a vision of equality while considering the lives of other people through understanding and respect. “Let them enjoy their lives, and be the best person you can be,” she said.
Ben Martin, a sophomore public relations major, agreed strongly with the values held by the center’s administration. “I hope it to be a collaborative effort with the students and the faculty to get more inclusive staff, to get a little more diversity in our curriculum and I want them to be an advocate for making this school more diverse as a whole,” he said.
The center has recruited several Hofstra students from a variety of educational and cultural backgrounds as fellows to serve as a liaison between the administration and the student body.
Genesis Rivera, a sophomore political science and sociology student, expressed optimism about the center’s plans for the future. “I hope that the center will be a place where students, faculty, staff and administrators can come and find solutions for concerns regarding diversity,” she said. “When it comes to issues of race on campus, religious discrimination, sexuality discrimination – anything like that – this will be a place where people can come together and solve those issues.”
Dr. Jonathan Lightfoot, an associate professor in Hofstra’s Teaching, Learning and Technology Department, serves as the center’s director. He hopes the center’s mission of minimizing discrimination and promoting cultural inclusivity and sensitivity will resonate with students and cause the community to take advantage of the center’s resources.
In addition to minimizing discrimination, cultural insensitivity and bias on campus, a goal of the center’s administration is to institute a method of cross-cultural training at all levels – including for administration, faculty and students.
“We think the best way to do this with the students would be to have some kind of impact on their curriculum where there would be some core requirements and courses that one must take before they graduate,” Lightfoot said.
The director also explained the concern amongst the Hofstra community of the disparity between the number of faculty members of color and the number of students of color. The center’s administrators hope to remedy the problem by sitting in on hiring committees to ensure a diverse applicant pool regarding personnel decisions.
“Bottom line is that we hope that the Center can facilitate a more inclusive campus that is less discriminatory and more welcoming,” Lightfoot said. “We want to create a climate culturally whereby students and faculty would feel that they were part of the institution regardless of their background.”