Our view: It’s all about communication

DKS Editors

After an entire semester assembling and getting to know each other, the newly formed Commission on Inclusion finally hosted its first public forum in mid-June.

Its mission? To analyze and discuss race and other relationships on campus to make Kent State a more welcoming and inclusive community.

The commission, led by the Rev. Ronald Fowler, will then deliver a series of recommendations outlining strategies to accomplish the aforementioned objective to the administration.

From the looks of it, the Commission on Inclusion is off to a promising start. Representatives from various factions of the university came to offer input, including the Undergraduate Student Government.

Opinions seemed honest and sometimes downright blunt – i.e., a reference to Kent State operating as a “plantation” with the library serving as the “big house” due to perceived limited contact between the administration and the rest of campus.

Clearly, honest communication about these issues can only be healthy for the university community.

But talking is only the first step. Action must follow in order for a campus-wide impact to be felt.

As one person pointed out at the forum, recommendations in ink are just pieces of paper. They have the tendency to sit idle while collecting dust in the corner of an office.

How these recommendations will be enforced still remains unclear. President Lester Lefton, who initiated the creation of the commission, has said he will review the recommendations and then decide how best to implement them at Kent State.

He stopped short of saying he would implement them all. Obviously, as president, that decision is up to him. It might even be a wise one.

Still, when the commission finishes its work, a “phase two” of some sort seems to be in order.

Let’s face it: The human attention span is dwindling. People choose to forget things if they are not forced to remember.

The university community would benefit greatly if the administration issued a rough outline of plans to implement some of the recommendations. That way, it continues to be an ongoing process. The commission’s hard work should not be forgotten in the minds of the public as soon as the recommendations land in the administrative offices.

Of course, this proposed part of the plan to make Kent State more inclusive may not occur for some time yet. The public forums have just started. There are still plenty more issues to be discussed and brainstorming sessions to be had.

Lefton has made it clear since the beginning that the university does not have a timetable for the commission to complete its work. Discussions like these cannot be rushed. We agree.

In the meantime, broad participation is crucial for the success of the commission. It’s great the university has courted student participation from groups, such as USG, Black United Students – and even the Daily Kent Stater. It shouldn’t end there, though.

Participation in the commission’s forums is open to all students, regardless of their involvement in campus organizations. Students, your voices are needed. Student leaders can never speak on behalf of the entire student population.

We commend the Commission on Inclusion for its progress so far. We hope more community members can add to the discussion. Now is the time to join the initiative and speak up.

The above editorial is the consensus of the Summer Kent Stater editorial board.