At the MMIW keynote panel during DiverseU this year, one of the panelists asked if any administrators were in the audience. The only response? Crickets.
No president. No provost. No deans. No one.
I was disappointed, but not surprised. *Sips tea.*
This kind of stuff happens more often than not. While it may surprise some people that our institution isn’t as diversity-driven as they may think, there are many of us who don’t even get upset anymore.
If we want to keep calling on diversity and “recruit” diversity, our administration needs to show up for and support its diverse students.
While UM has made huge strides in terms of welcoming diverse students and cultivating diverse programming like DiverseU, it still needs to be present and actually support these events in order to consider itself a friend of diversity.
The Kyiyo Powwow is another area where our institution has failed students of color. The powwow is the biggest diversity event on campus, bringing in around 5,000 people for the celebration. The powwow budget is more than $50,000, money that students have to fundraise.
That’s right, STUDENTS have to raise $50,000 during the school year, on top of being enrolled full-time at UM, and potentially having jobs and families to care for as well.
The kicker of all of this is that the Adams Center just raised the rates for renting out the venue for the weekend, money the Kyiyo Native American Student Association now has to budget for and fundraise even more. This is exceptionally annoying, to say the least, because our lovely neighbor school in Bozeman allows its powwow committee — with members who are also students — to rent out its stadium for free. *Sips tea again.*.
This kind of stuff should not be happening. Yes, things cost money. I get that. But our administration and institution need to understand that this work is not easy, yet we as an institution are only willing to support it as long as it’s easy.
Kyiyo and the students who work hard all year to make it happen are not just a cool photo op for the University to post about when they get around to it. The DiverseU coordinators and planners do not put these events on just for the University to point at and say, “Look! We love diversity!”
This institution is walking all over, and cashing in on, the very hard work of others who actually care about students of diverse backgrounds and cultures.
That is not supporting diversity. Not showing up for diversity events is not supporting diversity. Charging a student group that brings in people the University could never reach is not supporting diversity.
We all want to jump around and talk about how diverse we are and how we love diversity. But when it actually comes down to it, do we?
If we want to be the diverse, liberal school we claim to be, our administration, deans and professors need to show up and actually care. If you can’t do that, then sit down in your vanilla offices, stay there and stop wasting our time because the rest of us have actual work to do.