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The Antelope

The Antelope

Inclusion forum sparks calls for change

UNK Louie Loper

Charles Bicak, vice chancellor of academic affairs, held a forum last Thursday to discuss campus inclusion and respect. The forum posed three questions seeking input on making campus more inclusive, highlighting ways UNK is succeeding in welcoming diversity and providing a place to share experiences with respect and inclusion.

A number of students spoke out at the event. Some simply shared their experiences, but others advocated for change.

Adrian Gomez Ramos led the discussion by raising issue with the current graduation dress policy, which prohibits students from wearing stoles that honor student backgrounds outside of academics and military service. Many students shared the sentiment that this would be a welcome and simple change to implement.

“It is very realistic to show change,” said freshman Ryan Sikes. “A month is very realistic to show minor things.”

This timeline proposal was echoed throughout the room, and Bicak even affirmed in his closing remarks that changes will come over the next month.

But immediately following the event, campus organization leaders received an email from John Falconer, senior advisor to the chancellor, clarifying and emphasizing the existing stole policy, throwing water on the fire that spread after Gomez Ramos’s suggestion at the beginning of the forum. Both events follow a recent student government resolution calling for this policy to change. Gomez Ramos referenced this resolution in his remarks, which he delivered mere feet from Falconer at the forum. 

While it may be too soon to say whether this policy will ultimately be changed, the speed with which the message arrived following the forum understandably may feel inconsiderate to students under the impression that the forum provided a constructive discussion. This message, while possibly offering an innocent explanation of current policy, instead seemed to undermine the message of campus inclusion and respect the forum set out to establish. 

We hope this is an unfortunate coincidence that doesn’t characterize the way the administration views student feedback on the whole. The channel between administrators and students is crucial to the betterment of this campus. To see that line of communication break down would be unforunate for everyone involved.

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