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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Administrative and faculty diversity

St. Joe’s can improve from top down

On April 5, the university received an email announcing the new Chief Human Resources Officer, Zenobia Hargust. The email said she is currently the “Director of Equal Opportunity & Employee Engagement at Swarthmore College, as well as the College’s Deputy Title IX Coordinator.”

Not only is she immensely qualified for the position, but she is also a Muslim woman of color, which will allow Hargust to provide a new and very much needed point of view to a primarily white and male administration here at St. Joe’s.

We are incredibly excited to welcome her to St. Joe’s, and we know that she will bring a new perspective and a restored interest in diversity with her.

St. Joe’s past hiring practices, as they are reflected in the current racial demographics of both administration and faculty, seemed to be skewed towards those who are white, and in many cases, those who are male.

Of course, the overall hiring process is something that is incredibly difficult to deal with; the intentionality of hiring people of color at both the administrative and the faculty level is something that can be seen as problematic due to the assertion that these hiring processes may be solely about racial diversity and don’t take qualifications into account.

We can and should look critically at the university in terms of their hiring practices in the past, but we should also concede to the fact that the university’s current racial demographics, amongst the administration especially, do point to a larger trend on the national level.

In 2016, the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) released research illustrating that “7 percent of higher education administrative positions…were held by black staffers. Just 3 percent of those jobs were held by Hispanic or Latino people, 2 percent were Asian and 1 percent identified as another race or ethnicity. The remaining 86 percent of administrators were white.”

This reflects patterns in nationwide hiring within administrations on college campuses, and our own university’s demographics for the administration and faculty are no different; there is an overall staggering lack of racial diversity.

In short, there is a clear disparity when it comes to racial diversity among higher education administrative and faculty positions. Having equal racial representation at St. Joe’s that reflects the demographics of the Greater Philadelphia area is immensely important when it comes to creating a positive social environment at an institution for higher education while also promoting what we claim to espouse: inclusion and diversity.

Diversity within the administrators and faculty will allow for the student population to diversify in the same way. Hiring a diverse group of administrators and professors will create this mutual social reciprocity between the higher-ups and the overall demographic of the student body. The hiring of Hargust is a catalyst for this positive change in the administration and faculty.

When people in an environment look like you and share your common background, you are more likely to stay within those spaces because they are familiar, because they feel like home. As the Chief Human Resources Officer, Hargust will have the ability to garner a more diverse pool of applicants for higher-up positions in both the administration and faculty.

To reinforce this intentionality in hiring based on racial diversity, as we hope Hargust will promote, St. Joe’s will feel like home to more students, especially those who are often racially minoritized in the U.S.

In the classroom, for example, the professor is the one who cultivates diverse discussions and provides a forum for interpretation of the overall curriculum.

Moreover, in the administration, those in positions of power create the culture for an institution, meaning that they can truly affect change within the population of the institution itself. All of these things will augment racially minoritized perspectives in different areas of campus life.

In an interview with Hargust for CUPA-HR, she said, “It really is an honor and privilege to work in human resources and be a person who sets the tone for the culture of an institution, who sets the expectations for not only tolerance but acceptance in the workplace.”

By bringing this perspective to St. Joe’s, Hargust will be an exemplary model for the formulaic response we have highlighted that will promote diversity on our campus from the top down.

Hiring people of color within administration (both higher and lower) and faculty is paramount to realizing the goals of the university in regards to diversity and inclusion. The university must hire the most qualified and experienced staff, but let’s not forget that the most qualified and experienced hire can be a person of color.

The university needs to begin somewhere in order to practice what we preach, and starting from the top down is a jumping off point. Hargust is a great start to this initiative, and we are looking forward to how she sets the status-quo of diversity as a woman of color in an administrative position of power.

—The Editorial Board

This week’s Editorial Board is comprised of the Opinions Editor, Assistant Opinions Editor, Managing Editor, Editorial Page Editor, Copy Chief, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.

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