2002 Notes from Annual Meeting with President Yates
May 14, 2002
Pattie Cowell introduced the list of issues under consideration as a focus for the Commission’s efforts next year. It was noted that all the issues related to the broader topic of “campus climate.”
President Yates said another issue of great concern is campus safety, its relation to alcohol abuse, and the incidence of date rapes on campus. He asked: “The numbers seem to be increasing – why is this happening? What are we doing? We want to be able to say we’ve done everything we can as an institution to ensure the safety of all our students. Shouldn’t a group like CWGE be forceful in advocating for increased safety measures?” He noted that CWGE shouldn’t “make it easy for the President of the University to make excuses.”
Karen Wedge noted that the sexual assault data is really no different this year than in years past, although there have been some high-profile incidents recently. What has changed is that students are sexually active much younger and taking greater risks. They have a sense of entitlement that is being acted upon more frequently, and there is an increased use and abuse of alcohol and pornography. There is a concern that as an institution (and a society) we haven’t put money into the kinds of education we need to.
The President responded by agreeing that students today are very different than in the past and those differences translate into behaviors. If that’s true, that needs to be part of our institution agenda.
Discussed the notion that the University is not a uniform culture, and we need to understand the differences among elements of our population.
Sue James noted that the presence of women in leadership positions makes a substantial difference in shaping perceptions. The President cited the leadership of Civil Engineering, Natural Resources and Applied Human Sciences as outstanding examples of women succeeding as leaders at CSU – and he said we need to do a better job of sharing these success stories. CWGE might consider profiling such role models on its website. He also cited that women of the CSU Women’s Association provide scholarships as an important force within the University because of its impact on the enrollment and success of women students. We also have to ask why the leadership in certain areas of the University is almost 100% male.
Discussed the lack of centralization of financial aid at the graduate level – and that support is typically located through the “old methodology” so that many women students don’t have a source of information they can tap. This came up in the initial Title IX self-evaluation many years ago and still has not changed.
Lorie Smith shared her perspective as someone who is new to the University community and comes from the private sector. She said she is shocked by discussions she hears about risk-taking on campus – many women feel the risk of going into leadership is so great that they won’t pursue opportunities. Their fears center around the belief that there is no support system for those in leadership positions, and many women haven’t had the mentoring to feel confident making that move. What works in the private sector are: “carrots” for those who advocate for diversity and gender equity – along with clear consequences for those who don’t.
The President responded that leadership makes all the difference. He said: “It takes a lot more effort to build than to destroy. If our expectation is that we’re all people of integrity, then we don’t play games. If we can get people within the institution to embrace an idea and hold them accountable, we’ll see progress. We want the same things, but we have to be open and honest with one another.”
Sue James suggested she’d like to see a line on evaluation forms related to diversity and gender equity – so the issue is linked to the bottom line.
Dr. Yates noted that steps were taken several years ago to ensure Deans’ evaluations measured contributions to diversity, but he does not know whether the original intent of that step has been upheld. We may find that over time, what we agreed to do has been compromised. This gets back to how we hold people accountable. Discussed that a direct statement of expectations from the President would be very important.
The President thanked CWGE for their efforts and said he would make a clear statement about these issues to the campus in the fall, most likely in his annual Address to the University.