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Barker Named Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

This story is linked to: The Forum (Westminster College student newspaper)

Dr. Marco Barker is joining the Westminster community on Sept. 29 as the college’s new associate vice president for diversity, inclusion and equity. “I am most passionate about connecting different aspects of diversity and inclusion in ways that allows us to truly achieve diversity and inclusion and maximize and leverage diverse perspectives, talents and backgrounds,” he said. Photo courtesy University of North Carolina Office of Diversity & Multicultural Affairs

In December 2015, a group of 13 student activists protested at a faculty meeting in the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business. They called for more diversity at Westminster, the hiring of a new diversity staff member and more need-based scholarships.

Eight months later, many of those student activists sat in to interview the now hired associate vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion (AVP-DEI) Marco Barker—a step many student activists feel is in the right direction.

“Basically it just reiterates, ‘You’re a person; you’re not a number’” said Nicole Tyler, a junior English major who helped lead the faculty meeting protest. “As someone who holds many intersecting identities, it’s telling me, ‘We’re going to create space for you, and we’re going to really try to make sure you can feel like you’re welcome in this space. And if not, let’s go back to the drawing board and figure it out—even if it’s going to take a little longer.’”

The associate provost for diversity and global learning position—which was replaced by the AVP-DEI position—was eliminated during budget cuts at Westminster in 2014.

Student protests erupted in December 2015 after the Forum published an article that contained comments from the administration about diversity that student activists found problematic. After protesting outside the faculty meeting, the students were invited in to discuss their perspectives and express their anger.

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