Second Town Hall meeting includes a conversation about diversity

Esme Galvan

On January 21st, 2020, Dr. Mark Rudin hosted the second Students’ Town Hall Meeting of the school year. Following up to the previous one in November 2019, the location remained the same in the second floor conference rooms of the Rayburn Student Center. There were about 50 people in attendance counted midway through the first hour, including administration, Student Government Association senators, students, club members, faculty, staff and Dr. Rudin himself.

Dr. Rudin spent the first twenty two minutes of the scheduled hour listing and discussing the objectives he had worked on since the previous meeting in November 2019. Citing the topics highlighted in the previous meeting, such as diversity and campus safety, Dr. Rudin announced how he is working on new initiatives and inclusion of more diverse administration to reflect on the population on campus. Diversifying the administration would increase efforts to hire new staff members to reflect on the campus student body, and to create a program to train current faculty and staff for cultural intelligence and civility.

Pertinent topics included in questions were about campus safety, security, flex graduate courses being difficult to access, concerns about parking, poor lighting and security. The meeting extended to nearly an hour and forty minutes instead of the scheduled hour. 

Dr. Rudin talked the Division of Equity and Inclusion Committee and trainings, initiatives and programs, including a diversity fellow program to bring PhD candidates to A&M Commerce. 

A student asked about cultural intelligence in regards to the LGBTQ+ community on campus and if the DEI initiative would address gender identity and if staff would work with the safe space ally program.

In response, Dr. Rudin emphasized that the Division of Equity and Inclusivity did not just include race and ethnicity. 

“It’s about capital D, [diversity], capital E [equity] and capital I [inclusivity]. A large umbrella. LGBTQ, veterans, disabilities, race, ethnicity, gender and so forth; that’s the goal,” Dr. Rudin stated. “That’s the committee…It’s a pretty darn broad umbrella. At the end of the day, the purpose of this campus is to provide a safe, healthy, inclusive environment that every student who enters the door has their best shot at achieving their potential. So, yes. That is the charge of DEI and that’s my expectation of DEI.”

Flex courses came up and was a highlighted issue for graduate students not being able to be in a class due to lack of instructor. Dr. Rudin assured to look into that.

A frequent concern in the last third of the meeting was on student parking and the scarcity of security in certain areas around campus, sparking the conversation about the functionality of the security blue poles and their history on campus. 

Dr. Rudin invites students to join him for the third town hall meeting of the school year in March 2nd, 2020 from 5 to 7:30 PM in the Rayburn Student Center.

Photos By Esme Galvan