Cardinal and Grey Spirit Day on Nov. 11 was host to several community engagement events, one of which was the unveiling of a revised Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB) Statement. Faculty, staff and students gathered in Miller Forum for the ceremony. Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Provost for Equity and Inclusion Brooke Vick, Ph.D., introduced the event saying, “this moment is a long time in the works for the members of the President’s Diversity Advisory Council or PDAC, as we refer to ourselves. This is the representation of a lot of work, a lot of collaboration, a lot of community engagement. So it’s a really exciting day for us. Because we are finally getting to reveal what we’ve been working on for such a long time.”
“this moment is a long time in the works”Brooke Vick, Ph.D.
Following Vick’s introduction, President Kathleen Harring, Ph.D., took the stage. Harring gave the audience some context regarding the moments that led up to the decision to revise the original statement. In 2014, the College released its “Statement on Diversity.” Commenting on the original statement Harring said, “having an institutional statement that, by the way, was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2014, was powerful, since it was a public commitment, not just to our internal community, but very much to the external community… a very public commitment that Muhlenberg was invested, highly invested, deeply invested in justice and equality.”
However, Harring noted the flaws in the initial statement and the need for change saying, “The 2014 statement did not always speak to all members of the community in ways that allowed them to see their role, their responsibility themselves in the statement. And that was a problem because we need to be a community where every individual is committed and knows what their role is in making sure that each student, each faculty member, each staff member, each… campus visitor feels that on this campus they belong, they’re welcome and they’re valued.”
Vick returned to the podium to guide spectators through additions within the new statement. The primary alteration is the introduction of the word “belonging” to “diversity, equity and inclusion.” Vick noted that belonging was “the strongest theme that came out of everything we heard from members of the community and a number of different occasions. That when people feel the strongest sense of inclusion, when they feel welcomed at Muhlenberg… they feel like they’re part of something bigger, when there’s something about their identity that becomes connected to Muhlenberg. That [what] Muhlenberg is, a reflection of who they are.”
Other additions to the statement include acknowledging a need for equity and access, intersectional identities, power and privilege and a commitment to supporting marginalized communities.
The final section of the statement is what Vick describes as a “to-do list.” Vick commented on the items listed in this segment saying, “we wanted to include these to make sure that we had a specific guiding philosophy, but also, in some ways, a broad to-do list. These are the things that we are committed to making sure are happening. And we’re going to be accountable to those.”
Copies of the official revised draft were passed around and audience members were encouraged to discuss in groups and share their thoughts via a survey.
“I recently joined the President’s Diversity Advisory Council (PDAC) as the interfaith student representative and I am proud of the diligent work that the team has accomplished recently.”Nour Yousry ’23
Some students at the event gave their opinions about the revision with The Weekly. “Overall, I am hopeful for the change that will be brought about by the revised statement. I recently joined the President’s Diversity Advisory Council (PDAC) as the interfaith student representative and I am proud of the diligent work that the team has accomplished recently. The revised statement addresses the importance of equity among various student, staff and faculty identities on campus. I also really appreciate the commitments outlined in the statement as they open up doors for actionable DEIB initiatives,” said Nour Yousry ‘23.
Abby Bresalier ‘25 gave her views saying, “I feel like the statement doesn’t outline specifically how the College will work toward achieving these goals, which is something that I was wondering while reading it. I liked seeing what the goals were, it just still left me with an unsettling feeling about how they would be attained.”