Grants help embrace campus diversity

Helen Lee, Editor In Chief

Linfield will offer a new pilot program of diversity grants for students and faculty for the 2015-2016 school year as part of the college’s 2012-2018 strategic plan.

There are two types of these new grants. One type is a series of diversity mini-grants that range from $300-$2,000, which can be used for projects, workshops, and other activities that foster diversity-focused thinking.

Faculty will apply for these grants, but students can approach professors with ideas if they want to co-write grant applications.

The second type of grant is for two or more departments to collaborate in order to bring a speaker to campus to discuss diversity-related issues. The grant amount for this lecture series is $5,000.

These diversity grants are a one-time pilot program devised by the diversity advisory committee to President of Linfield College Thomas L. Hellie.

The program is an effort to “spread the wealth across campus” and to emphasize diversity as an important issue for the college, according to Professor of English and Coordinator of the Gender Studies Program Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt.

The success of the program and the initiatives that result from the grants will determine the funds for the following year.

Dutt-Ballerstadt cited the growing population of underrepresented and multicultural groups on campus as a reason for the diversity advisor committee’s efforts.

“When I came here, the population of underrepresented groups probably was 5 percent or 10 percent. Now it’s at about 30 percent. I think in response to that, the campus needs to be prepared to address issues of diversity on campus. This is something we have to think about in everything that we do,” Dutt-Ballerstadt said.

Hellie agrees that the demographics are changing, and that “it would be a real mistake for the college not to be responding to demographic change.”

Although Dutt-Ballerstadt said the grants funds may be small now, she hopes that students and faculty will embrace the program and then the college can invest more.

Applications for the grants went out at the last faculty meeting, and are still open.

Those interested in applying can contact Diversity Grants Chair Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt via email at [email protected].

The grant applications will be reviewed by the diversity grants committee, which includes professors, Director of Multicultural Programs Jason Rodriquez, and senior Ivanna Tucker.

“Students and faculty have the opportunity to partner and make a difference on this campus by organizing forums for discussing diversity issues. They should take full advantage of this. It is important to educate ourselves on diversity issues and people. This is the chance to help broaden our knowledge,” Tucker said.

It was a stated goal of President Hellie when he took office to develop a more diverse campus community.
“I think we have made great progress in the student body. But, it takes longer to develop a more diverse faculty and staff because by definition, they are staying here longer than four years. It’s not like you have the same turnover,” Hellie said.

He stated that diversity is a high priority of his and of the board of trustees, and that this is the reason the committee on diversity was created about three years ago.

“I believe that it’s extremely important for students to be at a college where they’re living with people and learning with people who are different from themselves. That’s the world you are going to be living and working in when you graduate from Linfield,” Hellie said.

Applications can be submitted to [email protected]. The deadline for the lecture series submission is April 30, and the mini-grants submissions are due by April 15.