The Challenges and Benefits of Diversity

CU has done an admirable job being proactive in its efforts to diversify its student body but much more needs to be and can be done.  The University has made an ongoing effort to go into a wide range of communities to encourage high school students to apply for admission.
However, as proposed in my vision for CU written in 2018, the University’s outreach needs to be significantly expanded into all of Colorado’s Middle Schools instead of just having a High School focus.

This will enable the University to have a more influential opportunity to communicate to students that CU offers them a path to excellence and that the University sincerely wants them as students.  By working together across campuses throughout the State, all undergraduate and graduate school opportunities can be explained so students can begin setting college goals at earlier ages.  This is especially important in communities where college matriculation rates are low.  We want every Colorado student aspiring to a college degree, to be aware of all the opportunities CU offers and know they will be welcomed and feel secure at any CU institution, regardless of any personal criteria. 

Hence, making certain young people know they are welcome, wanted as students, and safe well in advance of the time they typically start thinking about college will be a key to CU’s success in recruiting a truly diverse student population.

This will enable the University to have a more influential opportunity to communicate to students that CU offers them a path to excellence and that the University sincerely wants them as students.  By working together across campuses throughout the State, all undergraduate and graduate school opportunities can be explained so students can begin setting college goals at earlier ages.  This is especially important in communities where college matriculation rates are low.  We want every Colorado student aspiring to a college degree, to be aware of all the opportunities CU offers and know they will be welcomed and feel secure at any CU institution, regardless of any personal criteria. 

Hence, making certain young people know they are welcome, wanted as students, and safe well in advance of the time they typically start thinking about college will be a key to CU’s success in recruiting a truly diverse student population.

On Diversity, CU Boulder’s Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan states, “Diversity is fundamental to our success. It includes, but is not limited to, cultural differences, race and ethnicity, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, (dis)ability, creed, religious or spiritual beliefs, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, class, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, political affiliation, and political philosophy. A diverse body of faculty, students, and staff is necessary for CU Boulder to fulfill its goal of serving the people of Colorado, the nation, and the world by bringing together a vibrant array of cultures, experiences, and perspectives, and drawing upon the creative sparks produced by such a mélange.”

For Inclusion, the Plan states, “To reap the rewards of diversity, CU Boulder must be a truly inclusive university. The rich array of faculty, students, and staff who constitute the diversity of the institution must be guaranteed opportunities for access, advancement, and academic success. Communities cannot contribute fully to the intellectual and social life of the campus when they are marginalized, threatened, or demoralized, or when they believe that their voices are not heard by leadership and the broader campus community.”

These are good starting points but it is time for the University to examine why it has failed too many times related to these goals which, for the most part, are re-articulations of prior statements.  Recent racist incidents — including racist posts by current as well as incoming students — need to be taken more seriously.  Safety of students remains a major issue, despite its recognition long ago.

These are good starting points but it is time for the University to examine why it has failed too many times related to these goals which, for the most part, are re-articulations of prior statements.  Recent racist incidents — including racist posts by current as well as incoming students — need to be taken more seriously.  Safety of students remains a major issue, despite its recognition long ago.

As someone who is endorsement by many prominent leaders who are people of color as well as any in disability communities (see: AaronHarber.com/Endorsements), as well as someone who has fought for people’s rights since being a small child (when I marched for Civil Rights in events led by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and others), as well as someone recognized for providing a Media platform to those who often were voiceless, I know we have to do better and that we can do much better making major cultural shifts at CU, in Colorado, and throughout America.

My record has been recognized by many who have endorsed me, such as Colorado Black Women for Political Action, and my mentors included former U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, who wrote the 1964 Voting Rights Act and the 1965 Civil Rights Act.  I have posited that my experience on the governing Board of Trustees at Princeton University gives me unique insight and ability to make a difference on the CU Board of Regents because I know how the interactions among various interests work and how they can be brought together.

But I’m also someone who takes on challenges and is not afraid of a battle for those who need to be represented.  That’s why I did not back down when Rush Limbaugh tried to bully me with a frivolous $20 million lawsuit — which I ultimately defeated, albeit at great personal cost.  I understand what bullying is about and will do everything in my power to ensure its practice is addressed directly at all four CU campuses.

I also have proven my commitment to stand on principle. While a Trustee at Princeton, I proposed a resolution honoring Paul Robeson, the extraordinarily talented singer, actor (stage and film), athlete, and political activist born in Princeton, NJ, but denied admission to the University because he was black. In a tight vote, my proposal passed, 18-17, but remained controversial for a long time.

It is time to not only say we want campuses to be welcoming to and safe for all students, but to do a better job making it happen.  The time is now to do this and it starts with leadership from the Board of Regents and the President of the University.

It is time to not only say we want campuses to be welcoming to and safe for all students, but to do a better job making it happen. The time is now to do this and it starts with leadership from the Board of Regents and the President of the University.

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