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The Pacific Index

The Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion

University promotes more inclusive campus

Clara Howell, Co-Editor in Chief

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Pacific University has a new music therapy major that teaches students how to apply music in a clinical field. The music therapy major is a rigorous five-year program where students can work to become fully board-certified music therapists.

This music therapy major combines the music and therapeutic practices with community engagement.  Students will learn how t What is a microaggression? The literal definition says it is discrimination against a marginalized group whether it be unintentional, subtle or indirect. Some say microaggressions can be seen in many forms, while others are more insensitive to them or say they do not exist at all.

Senior Kawita Kaur believes they do exist in larger communities and universities, but she has even seen it on smaller campuses like Pacific University.

“I think we are like any other campus, microaggressions do exist but they are not very loud here,” Kaur said, acknowledging that she has seen it directed more toward race. “If we were in a more populated and racially diverse population, microaggressions would be a lot worse. Pacific is liberal and that’s why it’s not very common here.”

As of November 2016, Pacific has decided to lay out a bigger vision for The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office which covers all Pacific campuses. And the national search for a director is ongoing.

Pete Erschen and Bevin McCarthy became the interim directors in fall 2016 and under the interim leadership, Daniel Eisen and David Fuentes are assisting in building an Advocacy Team, a diverse group where people can turn to if someone is having difficulty in an area.

“If an incident and something around bias has happened, there’s certainly the idea of the Advocacy Team who is there to talk,” McCarthy said. “There’s also people who are looking to be connected to resources that aren’t necessarily in response to a bias incident but for instance, there was a number of staff and students who are interested in information just on updates about immigration laws and things like that so as a response, our office put together an information session last Friday.”

These people are knowledgeable and have the ability to listen, converse, mediate, adjudicate or go forward with figuring out what to do if rights have been taken away from another person.

“The value of the whole program on diversity and inclusion is about celebrating the differences and truly seeing why it’s an advantage to us to have a rich environment that has a lot of different perspectives whether they’re religions or ethnicities, abilities [or] political perspectives,” Lesley Hallick, president of Pacific said. “That’s what makes a university such a critical element in society and why university education for me is exciting. The whole program is really about embracing that, those differences and being excited about them.”

While there are many elements The Equity, Diversion and Inclusion Office covers, freedom of speech principals is one that has sparked conversation.

“We would never call it [a speech code] because we are not trying to tell people what to say, we are trying to encourage people to talk about their differences with respect so you can share your views on things without attacking someone else’s views,” Hallick said. “Respecting one another in a way that really allows you to hear what they’re saying. You don’t have to agree but you can understand maybe why they said that.”

Both Kaur and junior Bernie Ochoa agree that these principles would be a good thing.

“There is a difference between voicing your opinion and being belligerent about whatever you want,” Ochoa said. “That’s like shoving your opinion down someone’s throat.”

Currently there is already a faculty handbook that focuses mainly on academic freedom of expression as well as the student code of conduct that has verbiage talking about treating each other the way you would like to be treated and other student-related rights.

“From a principal standpoint, how do we as university promulgate the idea that as a university, it ought to be place where ideas can be expressed and it is safe to express them?” Title IX Coordinator Mark Ankey said, adding that the goal is to improve the ability to have conversations about controversial topics in a respectful way that will not harm other individuals.

Aside from freedom of speech elements, The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office has held activities, events and speakers to promote cultural awareness. Another aspect is to teach and education people as well.

On April 10 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. there will be a speaker who started the Center for Race Amity in Boston. He will be coming to campus to do a community-wide presentation in Taylor Meade Auditorium.

The office is also starting to implement student focus group who are talking to different groups and departments on campus about what kinds of resources they are seeking that will enhance in areas of diversity and inclusion.

“The kind of campus we have, we have the potential to be this incredible environment,” Hallick said. “We kind of are, but we could be better.”

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