ASU Chancellor calls for new council

ASU Chancellor calls for new council
(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A campus-wide email at Arkansas State University on Thursday sparked an immediate reaction.

Chancellor Doug Whitlock sent out an email informing people of the potential creation of the Campus Climate Council.

His email went on to explain the council's purpose and who would be on it.

"This is something we've been working on," Whitlock said. "It'll be comprised of some university leadership. And then individuals in certain groups that can be affected negatively if campus climate is not what it should be. Some of the groups, not all of them, were identified in the email."

Whitlock said they want a warm, welcoming climate for everyone on campus.

He said this is where the council would come in.

"The purpose of the council will be two-fold," Whitlock said. "We're an educational institution. We want to build a warm, welcoming climate here for everybody through educational means. So, a lot of what the council will be doing will be informative and educational in nature. As problems pop up, whether it be something around sexual assaults, something that's racially or religiously motivated. . .this council will be sure that people negatively affected know where to go on campus. To call attention to it and to get help."

Freshman Lindsey Trowell said she is excited at the idea of the council.

"I am so happy," Trowell said. "I think the council will be a great asset to this university. We've had issues in the past and I think this is a great way to address it. There have been a lot of unheard voices and this will give a voice to the community and to the school."

Freshman Mia Randle felt the same as Trowell.

"The more help the better," Randle said. "I think they should get more involved with the students. Because teachers have a lot to do. So, if the council is here, it's going to bring more attention to it."

Whitlock said they first began discussing the idea of the council when addressing issues last fall.

"We talk about celebrating diversity and campus climate a lot," Whitlock said. "And just to be completely honest, there were a few situations on campus last fall involving matters of sexual assault and some racially concerning things that caused us to decide we needed to put this in place and be proactive instead of reactive."

Whitlock said he was pleased with the response he was getting from students.

"The email went out this morning," Whitlock said. "My inbox has blown up with email reactions to it. And they've generally been very positive. And a couple have made some pretty good suggestions. That's one of the great things about shared governance on campus. You come up with an idea and the shared governance process will generally improve it."

Freshman Austin Clairday said once the council gets up and running, he believes it will be effective.

"There will be some bumps in the beginning," Clairday said. "Just some people who don't really understand what it's all about. But at the end of the day I think it works out for the campus a little bit better. It gets everyone to where we can kind of get in agreement rather than being divided."

The Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Lori Winn, the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Diversity Maurice Gipson and Chancellor Whitlock will be presenting the proposal to the Shared Governance Oversight Committee on Feb. 15.

"My hope is that a place that's already good," Whitlock said. "In terms of the openness on the campus can become truly excellent in that regard."

Whitlock said he's going to ask the SGOC to give the proposal an expedited review and get it through as quickly as they can.

He said he hopes to get it put in place and functioning this semester.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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