Point Park should revamp diversity initiatives

Written By August Stephens, Opinions Editor

Content warning: This article contains mention of sexual violence awareness and intervention. 


Last week, University president Don Green quit for “private, personal, and family reasons.” While this caused a varied reaction amongst the Point Park community, I believe his resignation will have a greatly positive impact on the college environment. 


After Don Green disbanded and reorganized the Office of Equity and Inclusion last Spring, it caused a drastic shift within the University. Students had to face the fact that an office which was regularly visited by students was being actively changed behind the scenes of the typical daily hustle and bustle. This included Title IX initiatives, diversity training, and LGBTQIA+ resources. 


Sexual violence initiatives are necessary for a college campus. For example, more men at Point Park are sexually assaulted than women at a similar-sized university. We as a campus need to be proactive in reducing harm on campus. One Love was an entire program which has since not been revisited. If you or a loved one needs support, please contact Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR) at 412-431-5665. They have resources not only for survivors but for their families as well. 


BIPOC at Point Park deserves the inclusion the university promises upon admission. Between 2-5% of the student population are People of Color, who are often let without any support. All staff and faculty of the university should uphold reaffirming, anti-racist principles. There are numerous cases where there is a distinct lack of respect towards students and other staff members. 


The next university President should additionally prioritize revamping activities and resources for queer people. This includes knowing where to send trans students when they are in a crisis, students having a supporting community when coming out, and how to move forward from being discriminated against. Whether it be considered a minor or serious case, we need to protect our students’ lives when moving forward with the new leadership. 


Students should not have to hide their authentic selves at a liberal arts university in a city which has been ranked as one of the best places to live in the United States which has a reputation for being an artistically-motivated, rigorous environment. 


I do not want the diverse, inclusive potential of Point Park University to be dismissed due to it being seen as idealistic. If you are a white person who dislikes talking about race or ethnicity, you are the problem. You need to own up to your privilege and prejudice, and hold your friends accountable. 


Practical steps can be taken forward to create a more actionable campus. There is little political activism from students besides passive social media posts. You can care about pressing issues, whether it be climate change or the Black Lives Matter movement, and not be performative. There is always a way to grow as a person while volunteering, donating, or protesting in the city. 


There is a genuine fear amongst professors which result in nuances, stigmas, and societal taboos often coming to life during class time. This can create traumatizing experiences for students who placed trust in professors prior to them sharing personal beliefs. I would not discourage professors from sharing, but I would be aware of how they are communicated to your students. 


There are passionate people on campus who want to do humanistic work. There are issues with retention rates throughout all student organizations, but in order to be successful we need to push forward. We need to welcome a leadership switch in the University to better our future.