President Carroll, University Officials Respond To Students’ Call For Action

October 19, 2016

By Marty Carlino and Christopher Sich

 Tuesday morning, Dominican University resident students awoke to several different fliers posted throughout university buildings.

The fliers called for immediate university action in direct response to recent on-campus incidents that involved racial vandalism and injustice. They also directly mentioned university President Donna Carroll.

At this time, it is unclear which students posted the fliers, but according to multiple student accounts, there were several students involved in the process.

As previously reported, the most recent on-campus incidents involved racial vandalism and swastikas being traced on cars parked in the university’s East lot. This is the second report of swastikas, with one earlier in the semester being scratched into the Coughlin elevator

Tuesday afternoon, Dominican University’s President Donna Carroll responded to students’ most recent call for action.

“This is a real wake-up call around this issue that has been bubbling to the surface for a while,” Carroll said. “We have already started to address it and we will continue to address it.”

President Carroll said that she is prepared to take further steps to address this matter and will continue to work diligently through all challenges.

“This is very painful for me. I don’t want to say that it’s not,” Carroll said. “I care deeply about this institution, the mission of this institution and the experience of students. If we have to go through this pain to build a stronger community, then we go through it.”  

President Carroll also stated her recognition of a request for accountability from students.

“I think the critical issue that students are asking for is accountability,” Carroll said. “Students are also calling for accountability in the case of respect in the classroom and in the residence halls. They are looking to see the university move forward in a case of culture sensitivity that creates a more respectful campus.”

In addition to Carroll, Trudi Goggin, Dean of Students at Dominican, also responded to students, stressing the importance of improved communication from top administrators.

“We haven’t necessarily communicated what has happened very well,” Goggin said. “While we recognize there’s on-going work and it will take a long time, there have been some positive actions taken and impacts felt that people may not even realize has happened. One of the things we’re trying to figure out is how to get that word out without minimizing the voice that’s so important and is being heard so clearly and loudly.”

Dominican’s Chief Diversity Officer, Sheila Radford-Hill, also weighed in.

“Diversity without inclusion feels like sink or swim,” Radford-Hill said. “We are working to build an inclusive campus, because that is the promise we have made to students. We have made a promise that we would support them and that we would encourage them. The notion of sink or swim in unacceptable.”

While top administrators remain focused on hearing the voices of students, they also wish to stress the progress that has been made in the past year in regards to safety on campus.

According to Carroll: “The university has increased and developed several practical procedures on campus that have included: a 24-hour escort service to any area on campus, an extension on the hours of lights on campus to provide more visibility, increased public safety patrols and a search for additional and higher quality cameras.”

Along with physical safety, Carroll also stated that the University has put forth efforts in what she called “emotional safety.”

Carroll said: “I think you have seen us attempt to provide more of that with the open forums that student affairs have offered, with the prayer service that ministry offered, and with the open-door policy that the office of diversity, equity and inclusion encourages.”

In addition to this, Carroll also stated her belief that there have been a couple of responses to the “Silence No More” protests that took place last November.

Among those responses are the hiring of a more diverse staff and a greater and significant investment in student financial aid.

Although they feel progress is being made, administrators still plan on addressing issues of culture competency on campus.

Carroll said: “I’ll be asking every department to put together a short-term and spring semester action plan to try to more specifically address the issues of cultural competencies and civility as well as mutual respect. We will combine those and identify some clear outcomes.”

Carroll also expressed her thoughts that student action is not something administrators are against.

“I don’t think student action is a bad thing,” Carroll said. “I hope that students will protest peacefully, I hope that they will be respectful of one another. It tells me students are engaged and care about Dominican. That’s what is going to help us make responsible changes.”

Top university officials also want students to openly express their opinions. One way they can do so is through an upcoming campus climate survey.

“We really want everyone to take this,” Goggin said. “We need a massive response to this survey.”

Any students who wish to further discuss any of these issues are more than welcomed to contact university officials. “My door is always open,” Carroll said.