WIU working towards goals of justice, inclusion, diversity, equity

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 6:44 PM CDT
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MACOMB (WGEM) - On Thursday, Sept. 1, Western Illinois University will open a new office dedicated to the school’s commitment to justice, inclusion, diversity and equity (JIDE).

According to the University’s President, Guiyou Huang, there has never been an office like this at WIU.

“Ultimately the idea is to make this university more inclusive, more welcoming, where everybody feels appreciated, valued and feels safe to work here and to study here,” Huang said.

When Huang took the helm almost two years ago, improving the school’s commitment to JIDE was a high priority. The new office will shape new strategies and actively work with students, faculty and staff to advance the commitment.

“We want to see our campus population reflect a national demographic,” Huang said.

Before the new school year began, Huang named Multicultural Center Associate Director Carl Ervin the interim director of the office.

Ervin steps into his new role on Thursday with the goal of making WIU a welcoming environment.

“Diversity, equity, inclusion and justice are all parts of the educational process as citizens of the world as citizens of Illinois and as citizens and students at WIU,” Ervin said.

Ervin will report directly to Huang while overseeing the school’s diversity plan. Additionally, working collaboratively with university partners to develop and monitor student and staff diversity strategies.

Ervin said the office will also host workshops, programming and training to support issues related to JIDE.

“We want our students to be well educated and prepared to thrive in today’s world,” Ervin said. “That means that this part of education needs to be enhanced and supported.”

WIU senior Olin Ortiz is one student who struggled to fit in when he came to campus four years ago. Ortiz said an office focused on diversifying the school will only benefit the student population.

“It’s the people here that make the whole college experience worth it,” Ortiz said. “It just opens up a bunch of different communities to finally get represented because I know not every community feels as though they are represented on campus.”

The JIDE office will be located in the University Union. Huang said he will evaluate it’s effectiveness in a few months and determine if changes need to be made.

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