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Lack of diversity on Board of Trustees calls attention of faculty and students

Ismael Cordova, Staff Writer

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“Multiculturalism” was the talk of the town as the Board of Trustees of Elgin Community College appointed alumnus Ryan Weiss to fill the vacancy left on the board following former trustee Angela Holmes’s departure. Now that Holmes has left and Weiss has been declared as the replacement, students, faculty, and staff alike have all come to the realization that every trustee, even the student trustee, is Caucasian. This, of course, draws attention to the question: “Should the board be multicultural like the student body in which they are representing?”

According to Jeffrey Myers, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Weiss was chosen as he “[stood] out with his prior involvement as a student trustee and then as alumni.” The day of the board’s appointment of Weiss, faculty member Joyce Fountain called out the board for dismissing potential candidates of ethnic backgrounds.

As a nation, the idea of diversity, inclusion, and equity has been a hot debate as the 2016 Presidential Campaign began and ended. According to the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, higher education has come a long way from institutions that were predominantly white for much of their history. Yet the diversity of each college or university varies significantly from one academic program to another. They elaborate this mindset in their May 2014 article, “Why Boards Must Become Diversity Stewards,” by stating that “boards have to have courage, know the institution and what aligns with its mission, and understand and support the direction it wants to take with these issues.”

Although the Board of Trustees does suggest that the board is “diverse,” they do not mean that the board is diverse in ethnicity but they are diverse in the skills each trustee holds.

However, according to 2013 research done by the graduate school of Stanford Business Corporate Governance Research Initiative, boards, regardless of business or educational background, perform better as a whole when they are of different diverse ethnicities and walks of life.

“The potential benefits of a diverse board can include an improvement of decision making, a full array of knowledge, overcoming a “groupthink” process, and considering important social values and equality,” said researcher Dr. Vicktoria Erhardt.

I believe that the ECC Board of Trustees should be diverse in ethnic backgrounds and walks of life. Although I have the utmost respect for the Board of Trustees, I do not believe that they can fully empathize with the majority of students of ECC. A Majority of ECC students are first-generation, and come from ethnic backgrounds which are currently not represented on the board.

For example, when it came to the issue of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, the board did not come to a resolution on the issue until rumors of a student protest circulated. In my opinion, if we had a Hispanic trustee, they would understand that DACA is a major concern for many students regardless of the legal status.

“For children, diversity needs to be real … it means talking to and spending time with kids not like them so that they may discover those kids are in fact just like them,” said author, John Ridley.

With the inclusiveness of diverse board members, it can expose students to people like themselves and give them the motivation to complete their degrees, in hopes of being like the trustee that inspired them.

About the Writer
Ismael Cordova, Staff Writer

Ismael Cordova works as a staff writer for Elgin Community College’s Observer. As a former Editor-in-Chief, President of Students Who Are Not Silent, and an active student on the ECC campus, Cordova loves to write about the issues that face students daily.

Cordova can be contacted through:
Student E-Mail: [email protected]
President of SWANS E-Mail: [email protected]

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Lack of diversity on Board of Trustees calls attention of faculty and students