After conferring with student groups, Rutgers doubles cultural center budgets

Richard Edwards, chancellor of Rutgers University, increased the operating budgets of all cultural centers on campus effective as of Nov. 27.

“Each of the cultural centers will receive a 50 percent increase in their operating budgets,” Edwards wrote in an email obtained by Campus Reform.

There are currently four active cultural centers at Rutgers operating as part of a cultural center collaborative under the division of student affairs. The cultural center collaborative consists of a Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT communities, a Center for Latino Arts and Culture, an Asian American Cultural Center, and the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, which is dedicated to the “heritage and diversity of the African diaspora.”

The decision to increase funding allegedly resulted from a series of meetings between the chancellor, student groups, and a selection of vice chancellors.

“After conferring with student groups, Vice Chancellor of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Jorge Schement, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Felicia McGinty and Vice Chancellor of Undergraduate Academic Affairs Ben Sifuentes-Jáuregui, I have authorized, effective immediately, several initiatives that reflect their collective counsel,” Edwards wrote.

In addition to increasing the operating budgets of campus cultural centers, Edwards elevated the “Bias Prevention and Education Committee” to a “chancellor-level” committee. As a result, members of the committee will report directly to Edwards.

“The Bias Prevention and Education Committee, which now reports to Dr. McGinty, will be elevated to a Chancellor-level committee and will report to me to keep me apprised of the issues and concerns related to bias on campus,” Edwards stated in an email sent to all faculty and staff.

The Bias Prevention and Education Committee seeks to “overcome cultural bias” and encourages students to “think before [they] speak.” The committee is also devoted to eradicating all stereotypes.

“There is no such thing as a “positive” stereotype. All stereotypes are inherently negative, hurtful, and damaging,” the website states.

Further, the committee encourages students to report biased incidents using an “Incident Reporting Form,” which allows students to detail the experiences of the incident. With the “Incident Reporting Form,” students can provide descriptions of those involved in the biased act and upload videos of the incident.

Edwards also doubled funding for the Student Access and Educational Equity subdivision within the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs at Rutgers and created a Task Force on Inclusion and Community Values.

“It is vital that we explore more deeply the sentiment of inclusion across our University and that we continue our conversations about race, bias and identity. To that end, I have also established the Task Force on Inclusion and Community Values to broaden the conversation and include the many voices at Rutgers-New Brunswick.”

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