STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) – Georgia Southern University is striving to create a more welcoming environment for its students and staff this fall.
The university has developed its first diversity action plan in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, led by new Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Tajuan Wilson.
“I started on March 1. Most institutions take about a year to develop comprehensive strategy. We’ve done this in about 3 months,” Wilson, Associate VP for Inclusive Excellence said.
Three months into his new role, Wilson held listening sessions with 80 students, more than 400 faculty and staff, and 100 Georgia Southern alumni.
“Our students came forward in a really beautiful way to say that they wanted to see more faculty, more staff of color specifically in folks who share their identities,” Wilson said.
Wilson says his office will create more support groups and mentorship opportunities for underrepresented minority students. Faculty will also be encouraged to undergo inclusive excellence training, and incoming freshmen will have similar instruction in some of their first-year classes.
“This will be our most diverse freshman class coming in this fall, and we’re really excited about that,” Wilson said.
The incoming class will also fill out a survey about their campus climate. Wilson says incidents will be handled using restorative justice practices.
He’s already spoken to one incoming student, who posted photos in black face on social media recently. That student has decided to no longer attend GS.
“We certainly don’t want to stifle anybody’s ability to speak up, and share what’s on their hearts and their minds, but at the intersection of statements being racist or discriminatory in nature, we really do want to do more,” Wilson said.
Georgia Southern’s president and other senior administrators started diversity executive training on Tuesday. They will become the first certified institution in the country.