* Coming a little late to this…
John A. Logan College abruptly canceled all planned diversity activities last week pending a review of their content. In doing so, officials cited concerns the college could lose millions of dollars in federal funding if they violate President Donald Trump’s Sept. 22 executive order prohibiting workforce diversity trainings he considers “offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating.”
Though college officials say they will reinstate events once compliance can be assured, the decision reflects a broader concern. Diversity experts said Trump’s executive order may have a chilling effect on diversity-related training and programs at colleges and universities in a time of national reckoning over race relations in America. […]
John A. Logan College President Ron House said the decision to suspend campus diversity activities affected two planned events: a talk by a Southern Illinois University professor as part of National Hispanic Heritage Month activities and a forum geared toward youth about their rights and responsibilities during a police traffic stop.
“The nature of the topics of what we’re doing are perfectly OK. We’ve got to take a look at how the topic is going to be presented, and that’s the crux of it and we’re trying to figure that out,” House said. House said the program content would be amended, if necessary, to comply with the order and rescheduled, though he was unable to say when that would happen.
Organizers of the police-related forum have already moved it off campus, and Roberto Barrios, the SIU professor scheduled to speak Oct. 12, said he is alarmed by the college’s decision and would only be interested in rescheduling if all diversity activities are reinstated immediately and the college president apologies.
The “10 rules for dealing with the police” event was canceled, too? Odd.
According to House, the decision was prompted by a letter from Terrance Bond, vice president of the Illinois Community College Diversity Commission, in which Bond wrote that community colleges – federal grant recipients – may be affected by the order. Thus, ignoring the order was not an option.
“We get several million dollars in federal money here that could be jeopardized if we don’t,” House said.
* New York Times…
Roberto Barrios, a professor at Southern Illinois University, had planned to give a talk at John A. Logan College in Carterville, Ill., on Monday in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. The program included discussions of Hispanic identity as well as Mr. Barrios’s own story as an immigrant from Guatemala. The talk was canceled for fear of the executive order, less than two weeks before it was scheduled, he said.
“To me, it is the absolute obligation of institutions of higher education to become ethical beacons for the nation,” Mr. Barrios said. “We should not kneel before executive orders that seek to politicize education.”
Ron House, the president of John A. Logan College, did not respond to a request for comment.
* Chronicle of Higher Education…
House has promised that the delayed events will be reinstated once the college clears them for compliance, but Barrios said he wouldn’t return unless he got an apology and an assurance that all diversity efforts were immediately back on. “My talk was canceled without anyone consulting me about the contents,” he said. “They in no way violated the executive order.”
The title of Barrios’s virtual presentation was “Reflections on Hispanic and Latinx Identity in a Time of Upheaval,” and it was in commemoration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, observed September 15 to October 15.
* I asked the Pritzker administration for a response…
Despite what Donald Trump says, structural racism is real. Diversity and inclusion training is an important component of creating an environment that is welcoming for all, while learning to understand the role each of us plays in making the world a more just and equitable place.
The Governor’s Office recently participated in diversity and inclusion training and will continue to do so. The Governor would urge all workplaces in Illinois to do the same. Trump’s empty threats shouldn’t hold us back from working to create a better Illinois.
* State Senate Majority Leader Lightford to discuss career, state issues: Illinois State Sen. Kimberly A. Lightford, the first Black woman to serve as the state’s Senate Majority Leader, will discuss a variety of topics including her career and next month’s elections during a virtual conversation next week hosted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.
* Black Caucus highlights racial health disparities in Illinois: According to Lightford, Black Illinoisans are 3.4 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white Illinoisans as the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated long-existing racial health disparities.