ABILENE, Texas (KRBC/KTAB) – Stephanie Hamm, recently named as Chief Diversity Officer of Abilene Christian University (ACU) says increasing diversity among faculty members is the first step to ensuring students of color feel at home.
“It’s important for students to have faculty members they feel like they can relate to, and can understand what they are going through, and what society is like for them, and so on,” she said.
Hamm says having 40% of students of color on campus is a great start, as fast as they may arrive, they’re back out the door.
“The students that we have right now that are not able to stay for whatever reason are mostly our students of color,” she said.
Because in order for people to stay, she said, they have to feel that this is their place. That means making sure the curriculum is updated and relevant.
“So that it is inclusive of all of our history, all of our American History, not just a piece of it,” she said.
Another challenge they face is the makeup of social clubs on campus, which mostly consist of white, Christian middle to upper class students.
“It’s not to say that any of these clubs will exclude students of color, but the students of color don’t necessarily feel like they belong in those clubs based on maybe the makeup of, but maybe the traditions of the club, whatever it is,” she said.
President of Nu Kappa Psi, Roland Campos, said they’re the only predominantly black social club at ACU. But he said when he first arrived on campus four years ago, he didn’t think there was a place for him.
“Whenever I looked at the social clubs at rallies or games, they looked the exact opposite as me,” he said.
Excited to see some changes before Campos graduates this coming year, it’s not just one student Hamm is hoping to inspire, but all of them.
“So, we’re right there in the middle, we have not arrived by any means, but I think we’re in a good spot right now to keep moving forward,” she said.
Stephanie has been at ACU since 2008 working as associate professor in the school of social work. For the last two years, she was part of a task force assessing diversity needs for the university.
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