The President's Task Force on Inclusive Excellence
ODU’s Office of Intercultural Relations hosted the President’s Task Force on Inclusive Excellence the first day of the semester. The task force was formed by ODU President John Broderick in 2011, yet the organization didn’t gain momentum until about two years ago
The P.T.F.I.E. aims to address the needs of the Monarch community through dialogue and discussions focused around “promoting unity, respect, and inclusion,” as outlined in the task force’s motto. The goal of the task force is to encourage diversity and promotes anyone’s right to self-identify. The groups vision statement is to focus on “student success, engages civic and community constituents, and utilizes its strong relationships with a variety of state and national partners to provide solutions for real world problems.”
Their most recent meeting, a conversation titled Racial and Ethnic Relations, was open to Old Dominion students and faculty members. When asked, students in attendance said they supported the continuation of such events in future semesters. Students voiced the importance of inclusive training, and recommended that it become mandatory here on campus. “I appreciate ODU having open events like this conversation,” Selah Coleman, a senior, said.
Largely, the students in attendance agreed that the task force could help foster solutions to problems or concerns such as ethnic relations in the U.S. and on campus. However, Coleman also mentioned that “students who need to attend these events do not.”
The room divided into smaller groups gathered around tables to encourage group discussion on specific questions posed by group moderators. Dinner was served at the event, buffet style.
At the end of the small group conversations, the committee members of the task force led the continued discussion by returning the room to one group. Group leaders summarized major group highlights and new ways of looking at race relations.
Deja Lee, a junior studying political science, found the conversation enlightening because of the ability to be able to hear the thoughts of her classmates, who are pursuing various college degrees, have diverse mindsets and come from numerous ethnic backgrounds. “Some people are not going to get it. Educate the person in the most sane way possible. All I can do as a person, is to help them understand the issue. You might change one person, and that is enough,” Lee said.
The President’s Taskforce Inclusive Initiative regarded the event as a good start and welcomes more Monarch community members to partake in future conversations. Participation as part of the discussion includes listening and learning while encouraging students, faculty and staff members to become part of the Monarch community.