With new policy, SUNY aims to be nation’s ‘most inclusive State university system’

Durgin McCue, News Editor

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Policy for SUNY schools on Sept. 10. “New York has a long and proud history of embracing diversity, and our world-class SUNY system is no exception,” said Cuomo in a statement. “With this new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy, we are once again sending a strong message that the Empire State is a national leader and a beacon of inclusion for all students.”

According to a Sept. 10 memorandum from SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher recommending that the SUNY Board of Trustees adopt a resolution establishing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy, “SUNY aspires to be the most inclusive State university system in the country.”

The policy’s first guiding principle, as given in the memo, is: “Diversity and inclusiveness are integral components of the highest quality academic programs and the strongest campus climate. Diversity is essential to excellence in the university setting.”

The SUNY website states that the new policy “aims to improve services and support for these students, ensure that SUNY’s student, faculty, and staff populations mirror that of New York State, as well as ensure that SUNY’s commitment to being welcoming and inclusive to all diverse populations is clear.”

“I really agree with it, I think it’s really good,” said James Scott, a fine arts major. “I think that a lot of people coming from places that aren’t around here might feel left out. I think it will help to make them more comfortable in a new surrounding.”

“As the public university system serving one of the nation’s most diverse states, it is essential that SUNY adapt to the evolving needs of all students,” said Zimpher in a statement. According to Zimpher, the new diversity policy is an integral part of SUNY’s “completion agenda,” which aims to issue 150,000 diplomas annually by 2020.

The policy also highlights the fact that SUNY system was formed to fight inequality, stating, “SUNY was established in 1948 in large measure as a refuge for those who were victims of discrimination by the State’s private colleges and universities.”

The policy also contains a stipulation that students will be able to voluntarily identify their gender and/or sexual orientation. “With these actions, SUNY makes another clear statement that it is a welcoming place for members of the LGBTQ communities and continues to align itself with the commitment to full diversity and inclusion that New York State has demonstrated under Governor Cuomo,” said SUNY Trustee Richard Socarides in a statement.

Hudson Valley, like every other SUNY-affiliated college, will soon be hiring a chief diversity officer. According to Executive Director of Communications and Marketing Dennis Kennedy, Hudson Valley will be filling the position in 2017. The college will be using the time until then to learn more about the system.

“I think it’s good that there will be somebody in charge making sure everything is going through, instead of leaving everybody to do it by themselves,” said William Neumeister, an architecture major. “Once you get somebody to actually bring people together, they are much more liable to do it. A good leader is essentially what you need.”

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