By Jayden Foster
In the spring of 2021, the Task Force on Racial Justice submitted its final report to the Samford Board of Trustees, who then sought to implement diversity initiatives across the campus. To continue this application, President Beck A. Taylor and Committee Chair Denise Gregory launched the Diversity Action Planning Committee.
“The purpose of the Diversity Action Planning Committee is to take those recommendations (from the Task Force) and make more formal action steps,” Gregory said.
Gregory said she is committed to involving the Samford student body in the process. Several student representatives are active on the board, including SGA President Tyler Kendall, Black Student Union President Breuna Lewis and School of Pharmacy representative Laurel Uhomba.
“Our goal was that every academic area (would be) represented in some form or fashion, whether it be by a faculty member, staff member, or student,” Gregory said.
These 31 members meet in subgroups throughout the week to discuss ideas and voice concerns. They then come together every Friday to address these various plans, recommend developments and create diversity movements throughout the campus.
“This is a dynamic group of people that I am excited to be able to work with,.” Gregory said.
Phase two of the Task Force first gathered in the home of President Taylor. Gregory remarked on Taylor’s engagement in the meetings and his desire to be heavily involved.
“Dr. Taylor is very supportive. He was very interactive in participating (in the meeting). He was involved, was there in the trenches with us,” Gregory said.
Gregory shared the goals of the Committee, which they hope to provide to the Samford Board of Trustees via a report that can be carried out as early as the Spring of 2022, or in the Fall at latest.
“We know that we can’t move a mountain in a day,” Gregory said.
However, Gregory noted that many of these diversity initiatives are already being carried out throughout Samford. Since the launch of the Task Force and the phase two development, many groups and courses dedicated to diversity development have become available.
“I don’t think students recognize that we have quite a bit of courses on our campus that they can take that deal with racial justice and diversity and different views of people,” Gregory said.
These courses and more information about the DAPC can be found on the Samford website.
“Some things we’ve already started, but (the Committee report) is more so an affirmation of things we want to keep doing and sharing in championing differences across our campus,” Gregory said.
Gregory and her team aim to promote opportunities for growth and hope to see a more diversified, informed campus both now and in the future.
“We recognize that this is not just the work of one or two people across our campus; it is a university-wide effort to have everyone feel like they have a place,” Gregory said.
For those looking to get involved with the Diversity Action Planning Committee, Gregory said that her door, and email, are always open. As Gregory communicated multiple times, the Committee exists to make sure that everyone at Samford feels welcomed, heard and represented.