President Search Committee Looks for Interview Advisory Group Members
On February 18, an email was sent out to Southwestern Community with an update on the search for a new President. They will start conducting interviews for the semi-finalist candidates and will form an Interview Advisory Group that provides feedback to the Presidential Search Advisory Committee.
The Interview Advisory Group will be made up of twenty faculty members, twelve staff members, and twelve students. Nominees were sent in from February 21 to February 26 and could only be nominated by a fellow member in their group. A faculty member could nominate another faculty member, but they could not nominate a staff member.
On February 25, an email was sent out by junior and intern for the Office of Diversity Education, Emma Lopez, to everyone in the “su-mcc” emailing list for the Coalition of Diversity and Social Justice, or CDSJ, with nominations for the Interview Advisory Group. From there, many students tried to spread this email to other students who may not have received the first email.
“In order to ensure that our voices, as students who occupy marginalized/silenced identities on this campus (and/or allys), are heard,” stated Lopez in the email. “[W]e believe that it is imperative that we strategically plan who we nominate to serve on the Interview Advisory Groups”
The students on the list agreed to be a nominee because they wanted to make sure the Interview Advisory Group included voices from multiple backgrounds. A similar sentiment was expressed in the Racism Panel that was put on by organizations under the CDSJ umbrella back in January. Not all students feel fully represented and they want that to change.
Lopez included in her email that students could nominate whoever they wanted, but emphasized that the likelihood of one the CDSJ nominees getting put on the Interview Advisory Committee was increased when multiple students were doing it.
“We believe that if we collectively nominate the same people, the advisory committee and any other entities influencing this process will be unable to look past a concentrated pool of nominations,” said Lopez “We are stronger together in solidarity than separate and dislocated.”
In an interview conducted through email, Lopez spoke more about the issues surrounding representation on campus and why CDSJ decided to create a list of nominees.
“We decided that the best way to make [sure representation] happen[s] was to have large numbers of students nominate the same set of students, so we compiled a list of students who we felt could provide a voice to underrepresented students and meaningfully contribute to the search process,” said Lopez in the interview.
Ivan Maina, a CDSJ nominee and co-president of Empowering Blacks And Others To Never Yield, or EBONY, emphasized not feeling represented on campus, where he is one of few black students.
“As students, it is only fair that we should have a voice in choosing who will represent us as an institution for the better part of the next decade,” said Maina.
He spoke about being a minority as a black LGBTQ+ immigrant on campus and how he wants a president who will focus on campus diversity and inclusivity.
“I want a future president who will go out of their way to afford people from traditionally marginalized backgrounds more opportunities to achieve a valuable education and life experience here at SU,” said Maina.
On March 4, the Presidential Search Advisory Committee sent an email out saying they have decided on which faculty, staff, and students will be on the Interview Advisory Groups. Lopez and Mania were both selected for the committee, as well as four other students from CDSJ’s nominations.
“The [Interview Advisory Groups] are comprised of additional faculty, staff and students who, together with trustees and the president’s leadership team, will be asked to meet with the candidates, listen to their presentations, and talk with them regarding their preparedness and motivation to be Southwestern’s next president,” stated in the email.
The email also stated that three finalists have been selected for the President position. Each finalist will be on campus for three separate days starting the week of March 9. The committee will not disclose any other information, such as who the finalists are and which days they will be visiting campus. Only the Presidential Search Advisory Committee and the Interview Advisory Committee will have this knowledge.