On Thursday, March 16, 2017, approximately 100 students and Russellville citizens traveled to Little Rock to represent Arkansas Tech University and oppose the new amendment proposed for House Bill 1213.
Originally, the students arrived to hear the Special Language Committee speak on an amendment that threatened to cut funding for ATU’s Department of Diversity and Inclusion. However, the hearing for that amendment was postponed until Wednesday, March 22.
At a later meeting for the Legislative Budget Committee, a new amendment for HB1213 was introduced—one which eliminates one Associate Dean of Students position, taking it from 5 deans to 4.
At the meeting, dozens of Tech students waited to hear what Senator Greg Standridge, who proposed the amendment, and the legislators had to say about it. When the agenda finally moved to Tech’s business, though, Senator Standridge was not present, so the Committee sent the amendment to Personnel, which is a subcommittee of Joint Budget.
The Personnel Committee meeting will be taking place at the State Capitol in Little Rock on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 8 a.m. The meeting is open to the public.
In the end, there was very little discussion from the legislators surrounding either of the amendments, but Arkansas Tech’s presence at the meeting was recognized and directly acknowledged.
After the meeting, Dr. Robin Bowen went out of her way to assure those representing Tech that she is hopeful and to remind everyone to remain respectful about the issue, especially since the previous day, the Board of Trustees approved a motion which requires all forthcoming events from the Department of Diversity and Inclusion to be approved by the Board.
“I am very encouraged and I am very hopeful that the resolution that the Board came up with yesterday will be the one that will allow us to move forward and retain our DDI office,” Bowen said.
Despite her statement, though, not everyone felt as positive.
“I feel disappointed,” Lantwan Traylor, sociology major at Tech, said. “The Department of Diversity and Inclusion is a very important department at Tech. It’s about representing underrepresented populations at Tech, so just the fact that we weren’t able to discuss it today…it kind of, like, shows that maybe this isn’t as important to them as it is to us, and so I just feel really disappointed.”