The Public Relations Student Society of America held a Diversity Fireside Chat with Director of Advising, Recruitment, and Retention at College of Science Blane Harding and graduate student Kevin McReynolds on Wednesday, Nov. 15.
The goal of the event was to hold a Q&A with Harding and McReynolds for students who had questions concerning campus safety and inclusion.
The University of Nevada, Reno, has faced a series of diversity-related instances just in the past few months. McReynolds being at the center of one of the occurrences.
On Sept. 24, McReynolds was stopped by university police at a routine traffic stop when a university officer made a comment towards McReynolds, “I’m just going to shoot him if this goes sideways because f— that.”
The officer was placed on administrative leave until the investigation was completed earlier this month.
“Given what has been happening in our country, I can understand why some might feel that official statements denouncing hateful words and actions are not enough,” President Marc Johnson said in a statement. “We’ve had many conversations, meetings and workshops this semester to address these events and the impact they’ve had on our campus. We will continue to hire the most diverse faculty we can, to bring the campus together for thoughtful, meaningful dialogue on the subjects of diversity and inclusion, and continue to hold trainings and workshops so that we can all better understand each other in the workplace and in the classroom.”
At the Diversity Fireside Chat, PRSSA provided the opportunity for students to ask questions to the panelists and express their concerns.
“This diversity discussion is important to me because on our campus since a few things have been going on I wanted to see what other people thought about it within this kind of setting,” senior Kimberly Tate said. “Since I feel like there’s not much being done besides a couple of emails coming out so I thought it was super important to see other people’s opinions in person and see what other people had to say.”
Harding was the former director of the Center, Every Student, Every Story and raised awareness to the issue that diversity was not an issue only for minorities but for majorities as well.
“I think the message that I want to resonate is that whether you’re talking about diversity or inclusion or social justice it’s not an issue that just impacts students of color,” Harding said. “It impacts majority and minority students and very often times impact majority students just as much as it impacts minority students. It’s an issue and concern for anybody at this institution if they really want to get the best out of their education.”
The diversity discussion is one of a handful of discussions that have been held this semester. A Diversity Dialogues session hosted by The Center was held earlier this month and led by General Counsel for the university, Mary Dugan.
“I think this discussion is important to have because it was really student-focused,” Harding said. “There were students here that are interested and concerned about what they can do on an individual basis. What they can do in their lives and in the lives of other people around them so that one by one we can begin to change things.”
Karolina Rivas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @karolinarrivas.