SUNY Oswego takes initiative with issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion

OSWEGO, N.Y. — SUNY Oswego campus has offices that help with situations related to prejudices if professors or students ever feel targeted, both in the classroom and outside of campus.

“In instances when those issues or threats manifest themselves on our campus, you have to report that very quickly,” SUNY Oswego President Peter Nwosu said.

Peter O. Nwsou is the newly appointed president of SUNY Oswego. He said the chief diversity office on campus is there to handle issues related to microaggressions of any kind.

Nwosu said University Police are also very active when it comes to responding to emergencies on campus. They are engaged and make efforts to involve themselves on campus, the president said.

“They work well,” Nwosu said. “I’ve seen them, I’ve talked with them. They get to know our students within this campus and so they are a very friendly group.”

Even with a good reference from the president, this is not the experience of everyone who has had encounters with University Police.

Celinet Jimenez Duran is the only faculty member at SUNY Oswego who is Dominican and a woman. Her current occupation is assistant professor. Duran said she has experienced micro aggressions multiple times on this campus, but specifically with University Police.

“I have not been surprised at my experience,” Duran said. “This is the first time that I’ve taught at a traditional PWI (predominately white institution) because I’ve spent most of my time before I got here, [students] were Hispanic and minority serving institutions.”

Duran said it is disheartening to experience with University Police because she recognizes how many of her students she goes through many of the same things.

“I don’t look my age so sometimes other faculty do mistake me for a student and then that means that I get to see the way other faculty and staff and UP (university police) at times treat other students,” Duran said.

Duran said University Police does not believe her when she said a she was faculty based on her appearance.

“Most of my issues with UP (university police) come from the fact that they don’t believe that I am a faculty person parking in the faculty lot,” Duran said.

Duran said University Police spoke to her in a condescending tone after attempting to explain that she is faculty. She waited for parking enforcement to verify her as faculty before University Police left her alone, she said.

It is the small microaggressions on campus that are important to report and handle as quickly as possible, Duran said.

Nwosu said his mission was to create a thriving community where everyone from every different background can come together on this campus.. Through his studies and experience, he has the tools necessary to bring his mission to life, he said.

“I’m an interculturalist by training and I do diversity training,” Nwosu said. “Kendra and I had discussions about how we provide further support to underserved groups on campus and she’s working on establishing a president student advisory group on this issue that includes a plethora of student groups that would come as a community,” Nwosu said.

Kendra Cadogan is the chief diversity and inclusion officer on campus that handles matters related to equity, diversity and inclusion. She is helping Nwosu with bringing an office for students to also review data associated with clubs on campus, Nwosu said.

Nwosu wants to create spaces for students to be able to improve their clubs, he said. His goal is to give students support in areas that they most need, Nwosu said.

“I want all students to know that when they’re here that they have the president’s support, they have the support of cabinet and members of our community,” Nwosu said. “All students regardless of who they are and that they achieve their goals when they come to the university.”

Nwosu was born and raised in Nigeria. He had his own experience with racism arriving in America when he was chased after school by a group of white students, trying to go home, he said. Then a student offered to drive him home every day after that to avoid being harassed.

Nwosu said you find bad people in all groups. Students are able to learn from each other when they utilize their differences to build a stronger college community, he said.

“If you wanna go fast then go it alone, but going alone is fought with problems,” Nwosu said. “But if you want to go far, go together.”