Campus team to focus on inclusion, fairness

Sarah Noble and Daniel Salomon

AACC’s Chief Diversity Officer is restarting the college’s diversity committee after a two-year break. 

Dr. Deidra Dennie is organizing the committee to meet once a month to promote inclusion, diversity and fairness.  

The team is made up of approximately 37 representatives from administration, academic departments and other areas of the college.  

Dennie said because the committee is so large, she will appoint subcommittees to tackle specific problems.  

“We have to be very specific with our work so we can get the best bang for our buck,” she said. 

Committee member and Student Government Association President Jacob Smith said the committee should focus on inclusion.  

Smith said he wants to consider the student body population as a whole, and then focus on minority students and how engaged they are.  

“If there’s a barrier gap … [we should] address it,” he said.  

Dennie said the makeup of the committee reflects the campus in terms of race, religion, gender and sexual orientation.  

Javanika Mody, a committee member and biology professor, said the college should offer more curriculum that fits diverse needs.  

“It’s common to think of diversity as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientations, skin color, whatever,” Mody, said. “For me, the diversity is mainly the diversity of ideas and—as a professor—I think of diversity of learning styles of students. To me, that’s diversity.”  

Dennie said the committee needs to meet first to decide what projects the teams will work on this year.  

One project for the entire committee is selecting a student, faculty member and staff member to receive the Ideal Diversity Champion Award.  

According to Dennie, the awards goes to winners who promotes diversity on campus.  

The student nominee receives the honor at an annual SGA awards ceremony in April. The staff and faculty winners are highlighted at AACC’s faculty convocation in August.  

At the end of every school year, the college sends a diversity progress report to the Maryland Higher Education Commission.  

“This year the committee will write it together,” Dennie said.  

“[The committee] is going to be a lot of work,” she said. “And these people are going to ask what they got themselves into, but I am excited.”  

The committee’s first meeting, to establish goals for this year, is on Aug. 30.