This past Wednesday, October 26, faculty and students of The New School packed into Wollman Hall for a presentation and Q & A, facilitated by President David Van Zandt and provost Tim Marshall.
While there were a variety of issues brought to the forefront, from new campus constructions to the increasing tuition cost, it was the issue of diversity which seemed to spark the most impassioned dialogue. As a university which has prided itself on diversity as a core value since its inception, the subject was bound to be met with strong will and concern by The New School community.
It began with Tony Whitfield, the associate dean of civic engagement for Parsons, The New School for Design, who was the first to address the dwindling diversity within all the schools. A topic which was present no where in Van Zandt and Marshall's presentation, it drew applause and quiet whispers among the crowd. Coaxing the crowd to "look around the room", Whitfield alluded to the white-washing of The New School of not only the student body, but the faculty as well. Noting that diversity in the academic curriculum was also just as important, he was met with support from fellow faculty members, who collectively wanted to know exactly how the administration was dealing with all these issues.
It was apparent that while Van Zandt and Marshall's answers to the diversity questions weren't fulfilling, it did give many satisfaction in knowing that the matter in question was a collective concern. It will be interesting to see how the issue of diversity is addressed in the future New School Town Hall meetings, and what changes, if any, it will cultivate university-wide.