Asa Daniels, Campus Carrier staff writer

On Nov. 12, students from the organization
“Your Move Berry” called a faculty and staff assembly
to discuss their plan to advocate for a Chief
Diversity Officer (CDO). Sophomore
Macilah Taylor led the assembly. Rette
Solomon | Campus Carrier

The student-led organization Your Move Berry, whose main goal is to hire a Chief Diversity Officer, held an assembly on Nov. 12 for faculty and staff over Zoom in order to provide information about the organization. A total of 42 staff and faculty signed up for the meeting.

The assembly was to help explain what Your Move Berry is to staff and faculty. According to sophomore Macilah Taylor, Your Move Berry’s outreach coordinator.

“We thought, why not present all of our information, all of our work, to the faculty and staff and maybe gain their support or gain some insight on what we could be doing better in our goal to eventually hire a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), as well as other initiatives [taking] place,” Taylor said.

Your Move Berry’s main goal is to hire a CDO as part of the Berry administration. At the assembly, Your Move Berry shared the original proposal for a CDO that was provided to the Board of Trustees, which can be read at tinyurl.com/diversityprop

Your Move Berry includes Taylor, as well as junior Noah Miller and senior Orlin Gomez in charge of organization and mobilization, senior Tasha Mwangi in charge of social media and senior Julia Churchill in charge of research and data collection.

Taylor hopes that by bringing staff and faculty into the discussion about hiring a CDO they can help persuade administration to do so.

“It’s one thing if a bunch of students are saying this and we have put a lot of research and we have put a lot of work in it,” Taylor said. “But if we have faculty and staff saying ‘No they’re right, we do need a CDO, we do need, you know, diversified curriculum, we do need x, y and z and this is to our benefit if we do all of these things’, that just makes us look all the more serious about this and shows that this isn’t just some emotional response but this is something that we’ve actually thought a lot about”.

For Miller, the assembly allowed faculty and staff to learn more about the goals of Your Move Berry, especially in moving past the events involving staff social media usage that occurred in September.

“A lot of people are still thinking that we’re protesting Matt Mixer, which we’re not, and so we were just basically trying to build a better relationship between us and faculty in order to create allies and just kind of answer any questions that they had and clear up any misconceptions,” Miller said.

Miller also explained that hiring a CDO will be a major change for Berry.

“We realized that getting a CDO was something that will basically change the infrastructure of this institution and we need to have a better concept of what that will look like and what we are asking for, how we can produce that kind of change,” Miller said.

Taylor explained that these changes would be focused on helping marginalized students feel more included and supported at Berry. Taylor said that other changes include diversification of curriculum, teaching anti-racism, teaching about the disparities of marginalized people and having a more inclusive education. Miller explained these are the kinds of changes that would impact faculty and staff the most and Your Move Berry wanted to openly discuss these issues with them at the assembly

Senior Rebekah Rowe (left) explaining Your
Move Berry’s requests for the college to improve
diversity, equity and inclusion on campus and for
a CDO to hold administration accountable to their
supposed actions. Rette Solomon | Campus Carrier

At the assembly, Your Move Berry members talked for a time to faculty and staff. Some of the assembly included Gomez talking about the creation of the group and how discussions over the summer with the Berry administration had led to little progress. Miller discussed the CDO proposal. She also explained the Trustees’ reaction to the document and their suggestion for policy changes rather than hiring a CDO. Miller stated that the BOT’s policy changes have not happened either. Miller went on to add that one board member is currently discussing the proposal with others. 

For Miller, the meeting was a general success. She explained that she looks forward to working with faculty and staff in the future.

“It was really encouraging to hear people say that we are doing a good job and that they agree that this is necessary and to know that we have allies outside of just students,” Miller said.

Taylor also hopes that more is done outside of the classroom by staff and faculty in the future.

“I’m hoping, you know, just to see some effort, some more communication, some more transparency, maybe even more CE credits hosted by these departments on different topics that are relevant to the world we live in today,” Taylor said.

Your Move Berry does not have any specific plans for the spring semester, but Miller said that they will continue with their plans and actions into the next semester and beyond.

For Taylor, her role in Your Move Berry has been transformative in her place on campus.

“Back in August, I don’t think I would have ever like, you know, protested Mountain Day or, you know, been so blunt and upfront with higher-up administration about how disappointed I am,” Taylor said. “I think I’m just realizing how much of an impact I have on this campus and how great my responsibility is as a student leader and what I should be doing and the people I should be fighting for.”

Posted by Campus Carrier

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