Luther College Chips

Senate begins Campus Climate Committee

Madeline Ajack, Staff Writer

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Student Senate is organizing a Campus Climate Committee to identify Luther’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in regards to race and ethnicity, sexuality and gender identification, political orientation, and communication with the Luther administration.

Student Senate Vice President Kyle Knoke (‘17) is in charge of organizing and analyzing the ideologies of each subcommittee.

“I felt called to represent my constituents,” Knoke said. “Usually when someone calls for something to happen, the conversation ends after the concerns are voiced and we need to do some tangible things for students.”

All of the subcommittees have similar focuses, explained Student Senate President Betsy Fawcett (‘17).

“The goal is to produce a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) report,” Fawcett said. “Each group will have to analyze inclusion equity, what Luther is doing well, how other schools compare to Luther, idea creation, and proposals.”

The purpose of these SWOT analyses reports is to see how Luther compares to more conservative schools in regards to these areas of campus climate.

“The analysis will help us to see emerging strengths at Luther currently,” member of the sexuality and gender identification committee Matt Amann (‘17) said. “This will really help us build a better environment.”

In addition, each of the SWOT analyses will be presented to the new Dean for Institutional Equality.

“With the new Dean for Institutional Equality, their job starts before they even get here and this analysis will help them [immerse] themselves,” Knoke said.

Each of the subcommittees has its own goals in addition to producing a SWOT analysis.

Knoke said that the Campus Climate Committee and subcommittees are not involved with the Strategic Planning Committee.

“We aren’t affiliated with the Strategic Planning Committee,” Knoke said. “But we wanted to mimic that same idea with smaller, more focused groups on diversity.”

Some of the primary focuses of the subcommittees, especially the sexuality and gender identification subcommittee, are to make small, actionable steps to achieve larger goals of a more welcoming Luther community.

“One big change I would like to see is more diversity among students and staff,” Amann said. “But our main goal would be to get gender-neutral bathrooms and housing on campus.”

Amann, who is not on Student Senate, felt especially called to participate in the sexuality and gender identification subcommittee.

“I feel like LGBTQIA+ students need to have their voices heard,” Amann said. “I want students that visit campus to feel included and actively sought after.”

The subcommittees will continue to meet throughout the remainder of the school year to discuss ways to improve and adjust the Luther community.

“Luther does a great job dealing with these current issues,” Knoke said. “But there is a lot of opportunity for Luther to improve. Luther believes in diversity, but we don’t have the roadmap to get there without the committee.”

Fawcett said she hopes that the Campus Climate Committee ultimately leads to a sense of unity on campus.

“I want to make Luther a better place,” Fawcett said. “I want to give those who don’t feel like they have a voice a voice. Together we can come up with a more inclusive community and make Luther more welcoming. These committees will make Luther a better place.”

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