Beginning in November, faculty and staff of color will finally have an organization that represents their shared goals and interests on campus. The Faculty and Staff of Color Association (FSCA) was founded as part of UMD's strategic plan to create a more diverse and inclusive campus. Approximately one of nine UMD students identify themselves as minority, according to UMD's Student Profile, which is available online. Minorities comprise 9.2 percent of faculty as of 2010, the most recent year the statistics were available.
Sociology and anthropology professor John Arthur is one of FSCA's founding members.
"The whole idea behind the Faculty and Staff of Color Association is to give representation to the collective voice of faculty and staff of color on campus," he said. "We believe the members of the association will share their individual and collective experiences to further our professional development and to position us to fulfill our teaching, research and service responsibilities."
The FSCA will focus on cultivating a positive professional environment for its members and will also host events on campus. "Our events are going to open to the public and the university community at large," said Arthur. "Our goal is simply to get together, talk about some of the progress that we are making as faculty and staff of color and how we can best position ourselves to help UMD toward the full attainment of the steps of the strategic plan."
Arthur says the FSCA was not set up in response to any issue or incident.
"(The formation of FSCA) wasn't in response to anything,” he said. “It was primarily to make sure that we … assist the members with professional development and to host cultural and professional events. With UMD hiring more and more faculty and staff of color, this association is timely because it affords us the opportunity to share and learn from each other."
UMD's student body will benefit from a proliferation of ideas among faculty. For example, newer faculty members can improve teaching techniques more quickly with guidance from the FSCA.
"It will help students because it will also provide a forum for us to share what some of the best practices are, in terms of how to efficiently do our work," Arthur said.
Most students agree that embracing diversity is crucial and welcome UMD's efforts to cultivate a more diverse environment.
"Diversity is important, especially on college campuses," junior Brianne Parent said. "It's important to see many different perspectives, and learning is enhanced with diversity."
Freshman Katie Franklin believes that diversity is beneficial for a college campus. "I went to a very diverse high school," she said. "It's really important to open your eyes to other cultures, and I learned a lot at my high school just from interacting with the student body. When you get out into the real world, you're going to be in situations with people from other cultures and places."
By JOHN FAHNENSTIEL