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Let Us Show You What Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Mean at Lakeland

LFA President Tobin F. Terry’s remarks at October 3, 2022 Lakeland Board of Trustees Meeting regarding recent board conversations and votes relating to the terms “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion.”

Chairperson Vitaz, Board of Trustees, and President Beverage,

I’m Tobin Terry, President of the Lakeland Faculty Association. 

I thank trustee Kessler for her comments at the end of last week’s meeting clarifying her position regarding the special committee to review equity, inclusion, and diversity language. I think many members of the campus and larger community were encouraged by her reassurance that she did not see the special committee’s charge “to review” the language as something that would result in removing, replacing, or diminishing the terms. 

I also thank Chairperson Vitaz for her comments in a recent article published by InsideHigherEd.com. Chairperson Vitaz said that the committee was formed because quote “the board would like to better understand what diversity, equity and inclusion means at the college.” 

I truly believe, as I said in my comments at the last meeting, that in your hearts, you support the values that these words represent. I also believe that you now understand the practical importance of these words.

Reflecting on Mrs. Kessler and Chairperson Vitaz’s statements, I believe that the board is interested in better understanding how Lakeland employees implement these values and how Lakeland students benefit from them. 

Let us show you. 

I hope that the board will consider including the voices of other stakeholders–including students, staff, and faculty–to the committee, as was suggested by Mr. Frager at the last meeting. 

I also urge the board to formally state that the charge of the committee is not to remove the terms altogether. This specification is important because of the origins of the committee, which grew out of an initial motion to remove “equity” and “inclusion” from the strategic plan. Please make official Chairperson Vitaz’s statement that the goal of the committee is to better understand what the words mean for Lakeland and our students.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to the opportunity to work alongside you impacting lives through learning.

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