PSU Magazine Winter 1992

. I.. . - - n recent months, events and incidents on campus and in the Portland community have challenged us to address the is– sues of bigotry and discrimina– tion directly. In response to concerns expressed by faculty, staff, students, and community leaders, we have issued a Statement of Unity that will serve as a starting point for creating a supportive university environment for everyone. Portland State University supports the right of all people to learn and live safe– ly and without fear. We will respond forthrightly to any event on campus that promotes or results in discrimina– tion, hatred or violence against any per– son on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age, gender, ability or sexual orientation. We value diversity and reaffirm the common humanity of all people and the intrinsic value of every individual. Every campus is struggling with issues of diversity today. Our society looks to its educational institutions to prepare people for a world where men and women of all backgrounds and races may live and work together in harmony. But the tensions and frustra– tions of an increasingly complex world play out dramatically inside as well as outside our university campuses. Universities grow in stages, just as individuals do. Initially, we tend to be oblivious to the many ways that people consciously or unconsciously discrimi– nate against others. Then, incidents such as the painting of a swastika on a campus building or the anonymous dis– tribution of flyers or pamphlets that carry homophobic or anti-Semitic me~ sages, heighten our awareness of the pernicious nature of discrimination. These incidents have become common on all university campuses. What can we do about things like this? The best answer is to go about the task of quietly and calmly promoting campus diversity. At PSU, we have done much in the last year to advance diversity and encourage a new vision of campus community. In 1990-91, we increased financial support for minority students to $3,944,414, up 10.8 percent over the previous year, thanks in part to the establishment of a state tuition and fee waiver program for minority students. This program is supporting 194 fresh– men and upperclassmen at PSU. In fact, our total enrollment of minority students at the University has seen a steady increase during the last five years, from 9.85 percent to a high point of 12.34 percent this fall. To focus our efforts in promoting diversity on campus and in creating a supportive environment for minority faculty, staff, and students we created the position of Director of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and ap– pointed Dr. Catherine Collier to the position. Among her first assignments is the design of a Multicultural Center that will cluster programs, activities, and services that s~pport diversity on campus. We also are placing more emphasis on pre-college programs which support and encourage students from under– represented groups to attend colleges and universities. Naturally, we hope many of these students will choose to come to Portland State. One program, Project PLUS (Prepar– ing and Learning for University Study), is funded by a major grant from the U.S. Department of Education. It is designed to help low-income, first generation students in grades 6-12 graduate from high school and enroll in postsecondary institutions. The program is beginning at Portland's Cleveland High School and at Sellwood and Hosford middle schools. By the third year it will involve about 1,200 students, including some in the Hillsboro School District. At Portland State, we want to turn words into actions. In practical, everyday ways, we are trying to attract a diverse group of faculty, staff, and stu– dents to the University, and we want everyone to be successful once they come here. We continue to seek women and minority faculty, particularly in depart– ments where they remain under– represented. Despite our loss of faculty positions and the need to freeze most recruitment activities in the wake of Measure 5, we still managed to hire six additional minority and women faculty members this past year. Activities which concentrate on serving students, faculty, and staff, will create the kind of campus environment we want better than any policies or statements could. We have a long way to go, but at Portland State we are committed to creating a model of a true academic community that incorporates the talents and perspectives of everyone. This isn't easy, but we will keep work– ing on it, until we get it right. Judith A. Ramaley President