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Archive for Friday, September 22, 2000

Retention is key

September 22, 2000

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To the editor:

The KU memo mentioned in your Sept. 14 article "Minority hiring doubted" is disturbing because it contains no references to minority retention. Merely hiring more minority people won't help the university increase its diversity as long as significant numbers of minority people flee or are run off after they're hired. The "Report on the Status of Women and Minorities at the University of Kansas," released last spring by the KU Sexism and Racism Victims Coalition and available online at www.seekpeace.com/KUSRVC, reveals that over the past six years, almost half of the number of minority people hired by KU resigned, retired, or were terminated.

To actually increase diversity, it's necessary to maintain a workplace in which minority faculty, students, and staff feel welcome and in which they are confident they have an equal opportunity to succeed. When KU's administration dismantled legally mandated affirmative action, they sent a signal that equal opportunity and the protections of the workplace rights of minorities and women were no longer a high priority. In many units, rhetoric replaced action.

For example, when the dean of the School of Journalism assumed his position in 1997, there were five minority people on the faculty and staff. He proclaimed that the diversity of the school was a high priority and that he would commit himself to increasing the diversity of the school. Three years later, however, he's being sued in federal court for discrimination and retaliation and today there are only three full-time minority people on the school's faculty and staff (with one more of those already terminated.) There are no remaining minority faculty and staff who are not African American. Not only has he failed to increase the school's diversity, he's actually decreased diversity both in the number of minority people and in the number of ethnicities represented.

KU's purposefully deceptive, politically correct rhetoric masks what they've publicly termed their "unacceptable underutilization" of minorities. Hiring more minorities is only half the solution. The other half of the solution is to restore equal opportunity, respect for the law, common decency, and due process to the KU campus.

Mike Cuenca,

KU assistant professor,

Lawrence.

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