When former ETSU freshman Tristian Rettke taunted peaceful Black Lives Matters protesters in Borchuck Plaza on Sept. 28, ETSU reacted in support of the demonstrators.
This story gained national attention and many praised the university’s swift actions, but it left minority students wanting more.
Diversity Educators held a coffee hour the following Wednesday, where students, faculty and staff came together to discuss their feelings and thoughts on the event and how ETSU could move forward, encouraging diversity and acceptance across campus.
Angela Claxton-Freeman, the interim director of the ETSU Multicultural Center, was in attendance. Claxton-Freeman stressed that there are people on campus who can assist minority students and fill them with the tools to be successful at ETSU.
Many felt that it is not enough for the university to only react to negative situations involving racial minority students, but should continuously support these students year-round.
“As much as I love ETSU, there are many problems facing minority students that go unacknowledged,” said sophomore Dominique Cain. “Minorities, especially black people, face discrimination daily on campus.”
Many faculty and staff members are open to hearing concerns regarding the diversity climate on campus and hope to help all students.
Carshonda Harris, director of access and student success, has attended student-led events in order to better understand what students want and need to be successful at ETSU.
“The Office of Equity and Diversity’s mission is to promote an environment where students, faculty, staff and ETSU community will honor one another as individuals and value each other differences,” Harris said. “One way we have done this over the past semester is with events and programs held in the Multicultural Center.”
The Diversity Educators of ETSU host two coffee hours each month in the Multicultural Center and students are encouraged to attend. There, students are able to share their concerns with their peers and members of the Office of Diversity and Equity.
Brian Noland, the president of ETSU, has been working alongside professor Chris Dula and Mary Jordan, the special assistant to the president for equity and diversity and affirmative action director, to look at diversity goals for the university.
“I feel that the diversity climate on campus is something that has changed over the past several years,” Harris said. “With the diversity enrollment increase and programs centered around diversity, the university has taken some leaps to improve the climate on campus.”
Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to voice their concerns and questions to administration.