The year 2020 has been a monumentally challenging year, but it also has been a revealing one. As the veil began to lift on the inequities in the justice system for Black Americans, difficult, but necessary conversations began across the nation. Difficult conversations started by our own affected LSMSA stakeholders led to the creation of this IDEA Advisory Council. The Council, comprised of volunteers, has a mandate to ensure LSMSA fulfills its mission to every student and that all barriers to full participation in the LSMSA experience are removed.
Since the Council’s inception on June 5 Chair, Dr. Jason Anderson and Vice-Chair Ms. Jennifer Mangum invited the other members of the Council to join and hosted the first organizational meeting. The Chair and Vice Chair also immediately began to research and identify external resources the Council can bring to bear to begin addressing the problems recently articulated by students and alumni. Following the initial meeting the Council formulated sub-committees to take the lead on addressing inequities based on race, LGBTQ+ and disability issues, among other issues in response to needs raised by the voices of our LSMSA community.
Among the immediate tasks for the Council will be a review of institutional policies impacting Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access; engagement with external professional resources such as Dialogue on Race Louisiana for additional training and tutelage for creating an educational environment that bars no student from the best opportunities available; and creation of dedicated internet page where students can find resources or seek help. In the coming weeks the Council will also commission a ‘Climate Study’ to more empirically determine where we are as a community on meeting the needs of and providing opportunities for all our students.
We recognize that this is just the beginning of a long road. Other issues may arise, and the Council’s mandate must be flexible to meet those demands. However, the members of the LSMSA IDEA Advisory Council are dedicated to starting this journey and moving with the urgency that these issues and this time demand.