Students meet with administrators to discuss race issues, solutions

Trey Crumbie

Approximately 50 students convened in the Grise Auditorium on Wednesday night to join an annual discussion on a plethora of issues facing minorities with administrators. Among the administrators in attendance included President Gary Ransdell, Joelle Carter, assistant vice president for Retention and Student Services and Howard Bailey, vice president for Student Affairs.

Students from various organizations, such as the Black Student Alliance and the Campus Activity Board, attended the event.

The forum started off with a question in regards to how to increase the number of black faculty and staff at WKU.

Richard Miller, vice provost and chief diversity officer, said WKU has a minority faculty hiring plan that concentrates on recruiting and hiring minorities.

“We’ve been relatively successful over the past couple of years,” Miller said.

Miller said even with the plan, WKU could do more to increase minority faculty in certain departments.

A similar question was asked on involved how to increase minority students at WKU. Ransdell said that African-American enrollment has been on the rise.

“We’ve grown our African-American population significantly in the last eight or ten years and it’s now approaching ten percent of our student population,” Ransdell said.

Carter and Bailey also said that the state of the African-American population at WKU is not unusual when compared to other colleges in surrounding regions.

Another question asked included on how to stay informed on committees and activities that seek to help students.

“Well, I think it’s a joint responsibility,” Miller said. “On our part, it’s important we make these opportunities available for students, but it’s also a responsibility to students to seek out and understand what some of these opportunities are.”

Carter also encouraged student groups to reach out to those in higher positions as a way to facilitate communication.

“We are stewards and employees of the state,” Carter said.

Communication would be revisited later on in the forum as a back and forth discussion between the audience and the panel evolved on how to advertise events to students.

Gordon Baylis, vice president for research, said students are welcome to pitch suggestions on how to improve communication.

“Write it out, tell us,” Baylis said. “That’s something that we really need to know.”

Suggestions included increase social media push and creating a committee to reach out to students and using their input to make information available and more accessible.

Other issues that were discussed included the racial climate of the university, making the relationship between the main and South campus stronger, reaching out to African-American alumni and scholarships for minorities.

Louisville freshman Racynnio Rankin was one of the students in attendance.

“I really enjoyed it,” Rankin said.

Rankin plans to talk to Carter to get on a special list that will help him distribute information to other students.