Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Wildes: “Impressive strides” in addressing 2015 list of demands

Lacinea Mcbride

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In 2015, Loyola’s Black Student Union, L.O.V.E. chapter and Brothers for Progress presented university President Kevin Wildes with a list of demands. That list focused on four areas: strategic action plans, professional staff and faculty, student life and curriculum and enrollment and retention.

The demands came as a response to a call to action from students at the University of Missouri, which ignited protests at universities nationally.

Members of those Loyola organizations wrote the demands aiming to, “improve the student experience and correct years of wrongdoing, underrepresentation and other deep-rooted racism and social injustice at our university.”

The list demands that Loyola ensure all students have equal access to resources and opportunities. The list primarily addressed issues regarding diversity and equity.

“It is difficult to be a scholar when you cannot afford to attend an institution that was built on the very backs of your ancestors,” the students wrote in their list of demands.

Wildes said he sees these problems and has been working hard to address them.

“As a Jesuit and university president, I welcome the dialogue with students and express true committed concern to their cause. To me, this sort of action, of accepting and encouraging diversity and inclusiveness, is mission-based,” Wildes said in an email.

Loyola’s mission statement — approved by the Board of Trustees in 2004 — states “Loyola University New Orleans, welcomes students of diverse backgrounds and prepares them to lead meaningful lives with and for others; to pursue truth, wisdom, and virtue; and to work for a more just world.”

To date, Wildes believes Loyola has manifested this mission in part by granting 89 percent of students tuition assistance. According to Loyola’s website, 37 percent of all freshmen are ethnic minorities. Now Loyola’s opportunity to completely fulfill the mission comes down to diversifying the faculty to mirror the diversity enrollment.

The student challenge from 2015 is that minority faculty members make up 10 to 15 percent of the overall faculty by 2020.

“We demand to see diverse faculty of color in every department on campus,” the list states.

For Black Student Union President Rachel McGee, psychology junior, diversifying Loyola’s faculty and staff is at the top of her list.

“I think it’s important for students of color to see themselves represented at every level on campus, and we’re just not seeing that,” she said.

Wildes, who will retire at the end of this academic year, admits that his successor will have much work to do.

“Loyola’s next president will find that although the list of things the university needs to accomplish in order to make Loyola more diverse, inclusive and equitable is great, our community has made impressive strides in addressing it: we are acting on our intentions,” Wildes said. “And the president will find not only an Office of Diversity and Inclusion working to fulfill these objectives but very many staff, faculty, administrators and students collaborating to accomplish this work.”

At the time of the Nov. 2015 delivery of student demands, hiring a diversity officer was already a part of Wildes’ plan.

Chief Diversity Officer Sybol Anderson will soon publish a progress report for her department responding to the 2015 demands. Anderson was hired in April.

According to Wildes, Anderson is developing a Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion within the university-wide Project Magis, in partnership with faculty, staff and student members of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee.

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Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola
Wildes: “Impressive strides” in addressing 2015 list of demands