Wichita State University students held a sit-in this week to demand diversity and accountability in university staff. The group, We the Students, want more diverse faculty and greater input in the school at large, addressing structural problems both globally and at home.
We’ve seen calls for more diverse hiring practices in campus protests across the country, which reflects a concern for inequality that goes beyond individual institutions. The demands for campus accountability may seem insular by comparison, but they’re no less important for it: students’ cries for justice will be heard the best by a system that includes them.
Which, for the most part, it doesn’t. University spokesperson Lou Heldman explained “there is not shared governance with students. There is shared governance with the faculty because they are a permanent part of the institution.” Which I can see, sure, but students are the ones most affected by that university government, and should absolutely have a say. And when the majority of college presidents are aging white men, students’ voices become even more important.
So far, WSU president Joe Bardo hasn’t responded directly to the list of demands, but he says he’s looking into having a conversation.