Last Friday, CSS associate director Alford A. Young, Jr., and director of the National Center for Institutional Diversity Tabbye Chavous spoke as part of the LEAD, Leading Equity and Diversity, series hosted through the Rackham Graduate School. 

The conversation addressed the need to create a more inclusive environment for diverse communities on college campuses. Many faculty, staff and students of color have reported feeling isolated, unheard, and unseen. Questions asked of the two panelists included such questions as 'How can we elevate marginalized voices in the pursuit of racial equity and inclusion on our campuses?' and 'How can we engage marginalized students without imposing our own ideas of equity and access on them?' 

"I think it's critical, particularly in a university context, to engage marginalized students in an education manner,"  noted Dr. Young in answer to the question. "I think that it is a core responsibility to educate and inform students about patterns and policies for change. In a university context, I think that many students don't understand many of the key players and agents in university governance. They may not be aware of where pockets of authority lie, and what particular kinds of authority these individuals have. Too often we say 'misguided commentary' or 'you're bringing your complaint to the wrong party.' We, educate them! Where should that complaint go?"

When asked about his background and how he became a champion for equity, Dr. Young explained that his commitment to social justice extends back to well before his career in academia, when he was in high school. "I thought deeply about the distinction and relationship between two kinds of service--intellectual service and practical engageent. And I've always thought, 'How might I combine the two? How might one inform the other?' And, how might I ground my efforts not just in national issues but locally?' That's been the vision for almost 20 years."