Dear Stuart Rabinowitz,
My name is Ariana Queenan and I have been a student at Hofstra since 2012, first as an undergraduate student at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication studying journalism and I am currently continuing my education as a graduate student studying journalism. I can confidently proclaim that I have not seen or felt a significant change in racial and ethnic diversity in the student population in the last five years.
According to a tweet posted by the Young Democratic Socialists of Hofstra, you made an extremely alarming statement to one of my fellow students of color at the most recent Town Hall meeting. In regards to making students of color feel more included in the Hofstra community you said, “You need to tell us exactly what we need to do.” This statement is not only problematic, but also harmful. In that moment you placed the responsibility of “fixing” Hofstra’s diversity issue on the very people that are underrepresented.
To quote another tweet from the Young Democratic Socialists of Hofstra you put the, “burden of proof on the person of color to solve problems of representation.” If you are aware of the racial and ethnic diversity issue that Hofstra is facing, why should students of color be presenting Hofstra with the solutions, when it is in Hofstra’s financial interest to be racially and ethnically diverse? When students were getting robbed at an alarming rate, the night shuttle was created as a solution to keep students safe. You are a well-educated man with a stellar academic background. Therefore, I am forced to come to the conclusion that if you do not have any innovative ideas to address Hofstra University’s diversity problem, it is simply because you don’t want to. But since you asked, I am going to provide you with five things that you could be doing right now:
1. Take a careful look at your senior administration. There isn’t a single person of color in your senior administration. As a self-identified African-American woman that was raised by a single teenage mother, I don’t expect a senior administration that consists of seven white women and seven white men to represent me behind closed doors. I would encourage you to be more inclusive when crafting your next senior administration, to reflect that of the student population.
2. Support the Center for “Race,” Culture and Social Justice. The center was established to support, “efforts to move Hofstra forward in its embrace of diversity, the principles and diversity in everyday in our policies in everyday practice.” The establishment of the center is so encouraging, because Hofstra can no longer be stagnant in regards to making students of color feel comfortable on campus.
3. Diversify your faculty. I have had five professors of color during my time at Hofstra University. As a soon-to-be second time Hofstra University alumna, I don’t want to donate currently because of these issues. But if there was a task force to recruit more professors of color, that’s something I can donate to.
4. Stop depending solely on student organizations to educate your student population. If the “multicultural” organizations didn’t exist, what can Hofstra University say it is doing to encourage education in diversity? The Center for “Race,” Culture and Social Justice is an amazing start, but without proper support of Hofstra, the center will easily become another entity that the university is solely depending on to do all of the heavy lifting that comes with truly practicing inclusiveness.
5. Interact with students. I met you one time and it was on my graduation day. I would encourage you to attend more student-run events. As the face of Hofstra University, I fear that you don’t know my peers or me.
As a future second-time alumna, I hope that in the near future I will be able to speak proudly about how Hofstra University is a shining example of diversity and inclusiveness for other universities around the country. For now, I will continue to wait, hopeful, knowing that the Hofstra Pride will never leave one of their own behind.
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