Students question President’s Administrative Council

Biola students gathered Wednesday, April 20, to ask the PAC questions in an open forum on the mailbox lawn.

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Freshman Miehrit Kassa poses a question at the PAC Town Hall meeting at Biola on Wednesday, April 20, where students were able to ask questions of Biola faculty concerning diversity, housing, and any other concerns. | Katie Juranek/THE CHIMES

Kathryn Watson, Writer

Dozens of students and staff members wove in and out of the PAC Town Hall Wednesday afternoon on the mailbox lawn.

The PAC, or President’s Administrative Council, gathered in a forum fashion to answer students’ questions about the management of the university, with questions ranging from diversity recruitment efforts to supporting students struggling with homosexuality on campus.

The President’s Administrative Council consists of eight members who advise and collaborate with President Barry Corey to lead the university. All members except for Irene Neller, vice president for Integrated Marketing Communications, were present.

Afternoon begins lightheartedly

But, despite the serious nature of most of the questions, the afternoon started on a jovial note with facilitator and AS President Lizzie Neely asking, “What would be your ideal Spring Break destination?” President Barry Corey, whose voice was froggy from being sick, had an answer that drew plenty of laughs from the audience.

“I’d like to go on a mission trip with some students,” Corey answered. “Paris.”

Students bring up topic of diversity

The questions took a more serious turn when junior Alexis Hinton, a Bluff senator, probed as to how intentional Biola is being about welcoming students from a diversity of backgrounds.

As part of his answer, David Nystrom, provost and senior vice president, said the Mosaic, or Multi-Ethnic Programs department, will very soon move elsewhere out of the Student Union Building to elsewhere on campus. The precise location will likely be announced next week, he said.

Officials respond to diversity concerns

Nystrom, who is in charge of hiring faculty, said that for the first time, the school is going to be especially intentional about selecting a diverse faculty. He said the professors hired this fall will reflect that intentionality.

Greg Vaughan, vice president for enrollment management, said that while the school isn’t going to have a quota for recruiting students of diverse backgrounds, methods are being applied to attract those students.

Students don’t avoid hard topics such as homosexuality

The question that perhaps brought the longest pause during the meeting was one posed by freshman Tanner Michaels regarding students on campus who struggle with homosexuality.

“What is the administration doing to help those who do and to cater to the needs of those students, because they have a lot different needs than students who struggle in those areas?”

Chris Grace, vice president for Student Development and University Planning, picked up that question.

“Our goal is to try to make this a place where people can come and talk about things,” said Grace, who didn’t offer specifics as to what resources are now available for such students. Grace recognized that helping those students is an area where growth is needed. At the same time, Grace said he hopes Biola already is a place where students struggling with homosexuality, among other things, can feel comfortable enough to seek out help.

After the hour-long meeting, PAC members mingled with students in the Collegium, where refreshments were served.

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