The new Student Diversity Task Force had its inaugural meeting on Jan 16, marking the first student-led diversity and an inclusivity-centric group of its kind at Rocky Mountain College.
The Diversity Task Force was founded within the past year and existed as a joint body between both students and faculty with both parties working in tandem. However, this union led to the student portion feeling uneasy and unsure of whether they had space or anonymity to share stories and experiences of a more intense nature due to the presence of the faculty members. Both groups mutually agreed to give each other autonomy, birthing the Student Diversity Task Force in Spring 2021.
Given the status of our campus climate amid the coronavirus pandemic, initial steps towards gathering a group and beginning the foundational aspects of the group took time. Specifically, students Sydney Meyer and George Beddow worked alongside Chaplin Kim Woeste to form the task force. They discussed at length the conceptual elements of the group: who do we want to invite? How explicitly do we define diversity? What should a meeting look like? Meyer, Beddow, and Chaplin Kim concluded that these questions should be allowed to answer themselves. They were looking to set the first meeting date and let these questions play out as soon as possible.
Their efforts came to fruition in the first meeting of the task force. With seven participants, the conversation started via Meyer’s question “What specific examples of issues would anyone want to share, and what issues we should address?” to which the conversation shifted toward focusing on the identification of issues themselves and how the group should go about seeking this information.
In the past, the Diversity Task Force wrote survey-style questions with the intention of garnering and publishing results for further use. While this information was used and there were responses from students, the results often lacked depth or insight. The task force acknowledged this in the meeting with Woeste stating, “We felt like there could be an issue in the survey in that students may find it redundant and impersonal to share things of weight to a screen as opposed to a group of mutuals with similar experiences.” The consensus was to put the task force’s effort into broadening awareness of its existence and purpose on campus. The hope was that in turn, the voices desired would be naturally amplified.
A majority of the discourse from the meeting centered around conceptual ideals, and large philosophical debates of how they would define their objectives. Members in attendance were more than respectful and cautious in their approach, understanding the importance of pace when trying to take actions that should include all.
While no programming or events were set in place, optimism amongst those in attendance was high. All agreed that weekly meetings should continue and that they would all look into spreading the word on campus. Woeste summed it up best at the end of the meeting stating, “The effort shown today is inspiring, Diversity is a fact here at Rocky, and it has gone underrepresented for far too long. I’m optimistic that this group will spur those conversations and this change that we all are hoping for.”
Those interested in attending a meeting or getting involved are encouraged to come to the Chapel Tuesdays at noon or contact Kim Woeste at her rocky email (Kim.firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.