GREENCASTLE, Ind. (WISH) — Young people are at the center of the fight for equity and racial justice.
College campuses often become springboards helping give them a voice. DePauw University, although centered in small-town Indiana is making big moves.
When DePauw opened in 1837, the country was a different place.
Even with its first ever Black female university president Lori White in office, that fight hasn’t ended.
News 8’s Katiera Winfrey spoke to Depauw’s president.
WHITE: “I always like to say to folks that we are committed to diversity equity and inclusion. But those are also aspirational values. So we are a work in progress. And we thought it was really important that we affirm that diversity, equity, and inclusion and anti-racism is a really important value at DePauw. And we wanted to come forward to lead our community on our campus and to let others who know about DePauw, that this is what we stand for. And now we have to live up to those aspirational values and think about how do we demonstrate that in the ways in which we recruit students to our institution. In the curriculum that we offer to our students who were studying here in our interactions with our community members, in our responses to any incidents that may occur on campus that don’t align with our values. So we really thought it was important that we issue that statement again to affirm that these are our values. And again what I always tell people these are important values but they are aspirational we are still working on them.”
WINFREY: “And so are there any theme or plans in the works now to maybe include additional types of curriculum choices or options that you guys are still trying to figure out?”
WHITE: “I think there are a number of things that we are still trying to figure out. And I want to give kudos to our students who advocated a few years ago that we require every student on campus to take a diversity course. And so now that is part of our curriculum. And I think we would all admit that one course is not enough. And so I know our faculty in addition to that required course are also thinking about additional classes that can help students understand the history of our country, what it means when we say there is systemic racism, what it means to be an anti-racist. And I know our faculty are spending a lot of time talking about that and what that might look like as we renew our general educational requirements. I know our students are really pushing us. We have a day of dialogue each year. And again this came about because of our student advocacy who said we need to take a day off from classes and we need to focus on that day to talk to one another about what it means to live up to our aspirational values of diversity ,equity, and inclusion.”
WINFREY: “And so often we say universities reflect the community is seems the opposite here. It’s the University that’s rubbing off on the community. When you think about the young people coming up and they’re the ones now setting the standard does that give you hope that this quest for equity this quest for social justice is possible to reach?”
WHITE: “It makes me sad and it makes me hopeful. What makes me sad is I am 63 years old, so I have just out at myself on TV about my age. But you know these are battles that my generation and my parents generation and my grandparents generation fault. And we thought we had moved so much further. And so it breaks my heart that this generation is still having to advocate for us to live up to our democracy in ways that my grandparents my parents and I hope that we had already solved and that this generation could focus on other things. So that’s what makes me sad. What makes me hopeful is that this generation is continuing to assert that we have not yet lived up to our democratic ideals and that we need to do more. And what I think is wonderful about their activism is they are bringing other people to the table. So they are bringing me back to the table, I hope they are bringing you back to the table. And they are developing a multicultural, multi racial, multi-religious coalition to push our community and our country forward in the ways that as I said I had hoped we’d already moved through my generation’s advocacy.”