Diversity clauses added to Point Loma Nazarene University’s Associated Student Body (ASB) Board of Directors’ handbooks take effect this semester. These handbook changes were set in place by the previous year’s board members led by former ASB president Ella Malone, which includes specific duties of individual board positions.
On May 2, 2022, Malone wrote in an email to the student body that “All members of the ASB Board of Directors will attend two Diversity Leadership Trainings by the Office of Multicultural and International Student Services (OMISS) per semester.”
These new changes have been in the works since the 2020-2021 school year. They began with the ASB president in office prior to Malone, Nash Manker, who spoke with former Director of OMISS, Sam Kwapong. Manker and Kwapong discussed connecting Multicultural Opportunities for Student Actively Involved in Community (MOSAIC) presidents and ASB board members, resulting in the proposal of a board position dedicated to directing diversity on campus.
Director of Community Life and advisor to the ASB board members, Scott McGowan, explained that for the position to be implemented, it had to pass a two-thirds vote of the student body.
“It barely failed. It was very close. And there was a lot of concern that came from a number of students around what that constitutional amendment would do,” McGowan said.
With more than a third of the student body voting against the position, McGowan explained that it creates the idea that the student body is against its presence. With a master’s in International Public Policy, he said how it is normal for people to jump to similar conclusions.
“What was very evident was there was still very much a majority of students that wanted to see
some sort of leadership, was how I took it,” McGowan said. “I saw that students wanted to see some sort of direct specific leadership from their top most student leaders, ASB board, on making Point Loma be a place that every single student that comes to it (every undergraduate student that comes) belongs, and feels that they belong.”
Diversity percentages have steadily increased since 2013 with a 35.7% diversity percentage in 2013 and a 47.0% in 2021 for total undergraduate PLNU students according to the Common Data Set (CDS) for 2021. To be considered diverse, a student must fit into one of the following categories: Hispanic/Latino, African American, Native American, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Asian American, or Multi-race.
“Every board I’ve worked with, all of them, have had [inclusion for all students] as a top priority,” McGowan said.
Because of the proposed position’s loss, Malone began leading her team towards an alternative solution — handbook changes — the following year.
“When we make it one person on the board’s job, it stops being everyone’s job. Instead, we should make it everybody’s job,” McGowan said.
Changing the handbooks involves a different voting process. Handbooks can be changed anytime by the ASB board members with a majority vote of the board. These changes are explained to incoming board members by outgoing board members in individual training meetings.
Training for diversity leadership will occur seven times this year. These are meetings for Diversity Leadership Scholarship (DLS) recipients and led by the Director of OMISS, Maya Hood.
Current ASB president, fourth-year psychology major Josh Ching, has not yet spoken to Dr. Walter Augustine, the Associate Vice President of Diversity and Belonging or Hood about the ASB board of directors attending these meetings.
“But on my behalf, in my handbook it does state that I will be attending at least two of those meetings during the semester,” Ching said.
ASB board of directors attending DLS meetings came as a surprise to Hood. She had not had a conversation with ASB leadership thus far.
“I feel like that invitation can be open to them [ASB] because I think it would be helpful, for one, for everyone to know what these programs are and what they offer because I think that’s what the community might not be aware of,” Hood said.
Moving forward, Hood wants to explore the relationship between the ASB board of directors and the OMISS.
The next step for Hood is a conversation with the ASB board members.
Fourth-year international studies major and DLS recipient, Ana Paula Cuen, recalls Malone attending a DLS meeting last year, yet leaving early. Cuen offered some ways the two groups could engage more this year.
“Maybe interact with some DLS scholars, ask some questions, have a discussion on thoughts DLS scholars have on specific topics or what not. I think it is a great opportunity for ASB to get involved with DLS, but at the same time not just get it checked off their little list of getting things done. Showing that they are interested in engaging with not just the students but also whatever we are learning about in those meetings,” Cuen said.
The points Cuen makes are inherent to what Augustine explains are important skills to have when engaging with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
“Any time we interact with a person or persons from a different cultural background than our own, it is important to have a posture of cultural humility,” Augustine said. “Cultural humility can be practiced through, amongst other things, active listening.”
Additionally, Augustine notes two other ways for ASB and DLS to work together respectfully and effectively: to find common ground, and to ask questions like “‘Where does it hurt?’ and ‘How can we help?’”
“This responsibility, though, is not limited to ASB, but to all leaders and students. As 1 Corinthians 12:26 says, if one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers with it,” Augustine said.
Written By: Sarah Gleason
Per ASB’s request, the eight updated handbooks for their respective director positions have been attached below.
Executive Secretary/Communications Director Handbook
Director of Student Relations Handbook
Director of Activities and Marketing Handbook