Walking into the front entrance at Central Lakes College, a person of color may stop, look and listen and not see anyone of the same race or ethnic background.
Helping people of color feel more welcome on campus is one thing CLC is working on. To accomplish this, CLC formed a diversity task force.
The purpose of the diversity task force is to help develop the college's efforts on recruitment and retention of minority faculty, staff and students, said Wendy Schluender, CLC vice president of student affairs. She said the college needs to increase its efforts to ensure a welcoming campus climate environment.
Part of the reason why CLC formed the task force to work on diversity is because the chancellor at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities set a priority to recruit students from a broad spectrum of backgrounds, including students of color, first generation college students, English as a second language students and low-income students.
The CLC diversity task force has 11 members, who are associated with the college, and the rest are community members. The task force began meeting in July.
Schluender said the task force is looking at what it can do within the college to help promote diversity, such as hosting different ethnic events that involve the community. One of the learning outcomes for CLC students is to respect and value the diversity of others and the environment. Schluender said they will accomplish this by building awareness and appreciation of all students through relationships and interactions among people and global systems.
"We do not have a multi-cultural center or adviser on campus," said Schluender. "We hear a lot from students of color that say that as they walk through the doors at the college they do not see people like them and they want to see more people like them."
CLC staff and students conducted a climate survey to determine what strategies would be most effective in increasing access and opportunity for students of color. Using the survey information the college can establish an action plan for increasing recruitment and retention of staff and students of color.
CLC also is working with students to collect their opinions about what the college can do to better serve students.
Schluender said the Brainerd lakes area is growing and there are more people of color. Everyone must work together to help promote diversity in Brainerd and the college wants to help, said Schluender.
The college formed an advisory committee that will consist of minority and low-income students and first generation alumni students to provide input and guidance to help improve services to underserved students. First generation students are students whose parents do not have a four-year degree.
The task force recently set up its plan of action for the first half of 2004. The task force plans to communicate better on the college's cultural diversity events; to begin to have meetings with neighborhood landlords on student housing issues; to provide diversity training to other organizations in the community; and to work with kindergartners through 12th-graders on diversity issues.
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