September 30, 2016

Webster plans to make already existent African American, LGBTQ curriculum more visible.

Two weeks after Webster University administrators heard from students about how they felt the university lacked African American and LGBTQ studies, the delegates were ready to offer their solutions at the Delegate’s Response on Oct. 16.

In a crowded Sunnen Lounge, Vice Provost Nancy Hellerud, one of the presenters for both responses to these proposals, said classes concerning both African American and LGBTQ studies already exist. The reason why these classes are not more visible to students is because they are housed in different departments or they are not searchable in Webster’s system.

She said the university will do a better job of making them more visible by the start of the registration period for this upcoming spring semester.

“First by publicizing a list of courses, which we can do by Spring 15 and Fall 15,” Hellerud said.

She said she would give the list of courses to the Student Government Association to spread.

If the students do not see the list, Hellerud said the university is also working on making these courses searchable by keywords.

“You can search ‘African’, you can search ‘Africa’, you can search ‘diversity’, other ways that people can search for courses,” Hellerud said.

Another issue the administrators were asked to address is sexual assault.  On Sept. 18, in addition to revising their policy on sexual assault, harassment and other offenses, Webster has also made it mandatory for administrators, faculty and staff to take an online sexual assault education course.

Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Betsy Schmutz said Webster is also offering online training to students.

“We have online student training called ‘Lasting Choices’ conducted by an organization called United Educators,” Schmutz said.

Schmutz, who  is also the Title IX coordinator for the university,  said that 3,000 undergraduate students were invited to participate in the online training and 113 have completed the training so far.

Title IX is a part of the Education Amendments of 1972 which protects people from discrimination based on their gender.

Schmutz also stated that $10,000 will be allocated for training, materials, education and prevention of sexual assault which will be umbrellaed under the university’s Title IX training.

After Webster University administrators issued their responses to the proposals, Senior Vice President and Provost Julian Schuster took the podium to give an ending address to administrators and the attending faculty and students.

“We are not addressing one particular study, one particular course only. We are doing that in order to create a broader community in which each and every person who comes here would feel as being at home,” Schuster said.

Schuster explained the response of the delegate’s as not addressing certain issues while neglecting others.

Schuster said what the administrators and students are trying to do through the Delegate’s Agenda meetings is not to fix a particular issue but to address the broader issues that society and the community of Webster are facing.

The five proposals the Webster administrators responded to were an increase in African American curriculum, an increase in LGBTQ curriculum and resources, better collaboration and communication between study abroad students and the university and its international campuses, more major-specific courses offered in frequency and in increase in education concerning sexual assault, harassment and other offenses.

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