Race, Bias and Equity Initiative hopes to make campus safer

Ceci Taylor

After the infamous blackface incident, followed by swastikas on campus and racial slurs yelled in Allison Hall, Colorado State University has implemented a new initiative that will allow students to propose ideas to improve the atmosphere on campus. 

CSU President Joyce McConnell sent a mass email to students, faculty and staff Oct. 21, announcing the official launch of the Race, Bias and Equity Initiative and declaring Blanche Hughes, vice president for Student Affairs at CSU, as leader of the initiative.  


“We do a tremendous amount to promote diversity and inclusion here at CSU, and we should be proud of our efforts,” McConnell wrote in an email to The Collegian. “Unfortunately, as we’ve seen first-hand, promoting diversity and inclusion does not prevent acts or expressions of racism or bias. That’s why I created the Race, Bias and Equity Initiative and why I believe it is so important to have students, faculty and staff forward their recommendations.”

McConnell wrote that Hughes knows and loves CSU, especially the students, and she will lead with deep wisdom and experience. 

Hughes said McConnell introduced the initiative during her fall address in response to the bias incidents that have occurred on campus, including the blackface incident.

“That provided an opportunity for our students,” Hughes said. “Through (Associated Students of CSU) forums, through meetings that she’s had with students, students of color, Jewish students and some faculty and staff, (they) said this isn’t okay. This isn’t Colorado State University, and we need to do something.” 

Maybe there are some things we’re already doing. We can enhance those things. Maybe it’s some things we’re currently doing that people don’t know about. So, how do we get that word out?” -Blanche Hughes, CSU vice president for Student Affairs, leader of Race, Bias and Equity Initiative

Hughes said the initiative was McConnell’s way of saying the school will address these incidents. 

“It’s an opportunity for us to look at things that we’ve already been doing,” Hughes said. “Things we feel like have been successful and really doing a better job of letting the campus know about those things. … But what students clearly were saying to us, as a University, is, ‘Yes you’ve done maybe some things, but this still isn’t a place where we feel like we can succeed. There are still issues here that need to be addressed.’”

Hughes said listening to the feedback and concerns from students allowed McConnell to ask what those new ideas were and what other steps CSU could take. This was the initial idea around the proposals.

The proposals can be submitted by students, faculty, staff or anyone who may have an idea on how to improve the atmosphere around bias incidents on campus or how to prevent such incidents from happening in the future, Hughes said.

“Maybe there are some things we’re already doing,” Hughes said. “We can enhance those things. Maybe it’s some things we’re currently doing that people don’t know about. So, how do we get that word out?” 

Hughes also said new ideas don’t always have to come from the proposals, but from meetings a student or faculty member may have with herself or McConnell. 


“We’re making sure we are capturing those ideas and then floating them out there to see if this is something we could be doing,” Hughes said. “How can we do this? Does it make sense? That kind of thing.” 

Hughes said once proposals are submitted, a team of people across campus will be asked to review the proposals and make recommendations based on the new ideas. The teams will thoroughly look into the ideas and obstacles they may face while bringing it to life. 

The more voices we listen to, the greater opportunity we have to make lasting change.” -Joyce McConnell, CSU president

“The goal is for every single proposal that we have, people will know about it,” Hughes said. “This is what was proposed, and this is what we are responding to.”

Hughes said there will be a vetting process for brand new ideas through certain committees that will be able to take it up through the administration while remaining responsible for carrying out the initiative. 

“The main goal of the initiative is to transform our campus to be a place where all students can really live out our principles of community and be a place where people, no matter what your background, no matter what you look like, can come on this campus and feel like this is a place where they belong (and know) that they are cared about,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the initiative has already brought a lot of excitement on campus and said it’s clearly something people care about and want to be a part of. The deadline to submit proposals was on Nov. 11, but Hughes said the University will continue to take submissions past that initial deadline. 

“That, to me, really shows the excitement and that our campus is ready to not only continue to do the great things that we’re doing, (but) also look at ways in which we can bring in new ideas,” Hughes said. 

Hughes said CSU hopes to be a model campus that provides a safe space for everyone to learn, work and live in.

“The more voices we listen to, the greater opportunity we have to make lasting change,” McConnell wrote. 

Ceci Taylor can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @cecelia_twt.