BFSA discuss plans to create a more inclusive environment in its first meeting of the semester

The Black Faculty and Staff association held their first general body meeting on Sept. 23.

The newly appointed Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Georgina Dodge, was the guest speaker at the meeting and discussed her plans to initiate and sustain change that is conducive to a more inclusive atmosphere on campus.   

Among some of the goals listed in her presentation detailing the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) joint task force was a new website, hiring a communications director for ODI and hosting workshops by the National Coalition Building Institute, an organization dedicated to eliminating prejudice in intergroup settings. 

While she admitted hiring a communications director would not fix everything, Dodge did say that it will be a paramount step in better addressing concerns regarding diversity and inclusion.    

“Communication of who we are, that’s how you form a community,” said Dodge. She hopes more open communication will lead to a more “seamless identity” on campus.

Dodge also shared the pitfalls of the push for decentralization by noting that not having anyone directly responsible for specific tasks relating to diversity and inclusion often becomes a “veil for lack of responsibility.”

This push is in such a surplus that it actually impedes its own effort and often becomes a “veil for lack of responsibility,” said Dodge.

Many of the faculty and staff at the meeting, who have been working at the University of Maryland for decades, are skeptical about what is going to be different now. 

“I’ve been here for five different diversity officers,” said Georgette Hardy DeJesus, who serves as the University of Maryland's executive director of Pre-College Programs.

Dodge stated that she understands why people may be unsure about what changes will  come to be and what are just recurrent statements that hold no weight. She placed specific emphasis on looking towards the future and learning from the past.