On the Agenda
The Staff Senate at Stockton University provides a voice to the many individuals who compose the staff of the university and serves as an advisory board to the university.
One of the ways that the Diversity & Inclusion subcommittee plans to serve as representatives within the Senate is to be regular contributors for the Celebrate Diversity Digest's series On the Agenda.
The Grand Opening of the Meditation and Ablution Room – A Perspective from Staff Senate
By Diana Allen
Creating an inclusive campus requires dedicated teamwork and collaboration. Below, Diana Allen describes the process of supporting the relocation of the new Meditation Room.
This past September, the Meditation Room that previously existed near the N-Wing Food Hall at the Nest was relocated to its very own space near the Multicultural Center. Down the hall, there is also a dedicated space for an Ablution Room, which is currently undergoing renovations.
The Ablution Room is a dedicated washroom; before each prayer, Muslims are required to perform Wudu, a ritual ablution that involves washing the hands, arms, face and feet. Having a dedicated space or private area for Wudu is greatly beneficial to Muslim faculty, students and staff, as many feel uncomfortable performing Wudu in a public bathroom.
As I begin, allow me to preface by stating that the essence of this project is captured and summarized by two enlightening articles in Stockton University’s latest news by Loukaia Taylor and in the Argo by student Iman Ahmed.
I am writing this article, however, as we on the Staff Senate thought it important to highlight that as a recognized body at the university, we were able to sit in on this endeavor, which I was extremely honored to do.
Prior to allowing me to ride along, the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Office of Student Development – specifically Jeff Wakeman and Dianne Stalling – and Craig Stambaugh, assistant vice president of Engagement and Community Development, were in the process of submitting the proposal and space request. A tremendous amount of consideration and work went into this proposal by the MSA and Student Development.
Throughout this entire process, I have continued to learn more and more about the need for a dedicated prayer space... I would like to thank the MSA, my colleagues in Student Development and Dr. Stambaugh for allowing me to participate in this project as a part of Staff Senate."
On behalf of the Staff Senate, a brief proposal was written about the Ablution Room to my divisional executive, Vice President for Student Affairs Christopher Catching, who put me in touch with Dr. Stambaugh. As a result, the Staff Senate was able to sit in and participate in the project going forward. This included working with our members from our Facilities Team, Cynthia Gove, director of Facilities Management and Plant Operations, and Rhianon Lepree, director of Facilities Administration and Real Estate, who were able to transform this area into the beautiful space it is today.
A few weeks later, at our Staff Senate meeting, my fellow senators and executive committee were elated to hear about the Meditation Room and the representation of the Staff Senate. They requested that I write my next article about this, so I decided to write it from the staff perspective, specifically on how the creation of the Staff Senate allowed me to educate myself about this matter, work with students and colleagues and be privileged to share in this celebration.
Throughout this entire process, I have continued to learn more and more about the need for a dedicated prayer space, which can be captured best as stated below by Professor Mariam Hussein, Teaching Specialist for Mathematics and First-Year Studies within the William T. Daly School of General Studies.
Professor Hussein explained that Muslim students typically perform three of their five daily prayer obligations on campus, assuming that they’re on campus from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Having a prayer room is crucial as it enables Muslim students to balance their faith practices with their academic and work commitments. This room provides a safe, non-judgmental space where Muslim students can pray without feeling exposed to outside scrutiny or constant questioning. It allows them to focus on their prayers, rather than praying in public areas where passersby may stare or make comments,” she said.
Lastly, it is important to note that the Meditation Room is open to all students and staff alike and of all faiths. I would like to thank the MSA, my colleagues in Student Development and Dr. Stambaugh for allowing me to participate in this project as a part of Staff Senate.
Diana Allen works in the Office of Residential Life.
Introducing the Staff Senate Diversity & Inclusion Subcommittee
By Diana Allen
As one of the founding members of Staff Senate and new chair of the Diversity & Inclusion subcommittee, Diana Allen of the Office of Residential Life introduces the subcommittee and discusses her vision for moving forward.
In the Summer of 2022, after the laborious efforts of the founding members and with the invaluable support of the administration and faculty, the constitution of the Staff Senate was ratified with a two-thirds majority in favor of adaptation. The specifics of the vote are as follows:
- IN FAVOR: 259
- AGAINST: 9
- ABSTAINED: 12
Subsequently, the Staff Senate was created.
Under the purview of the Staff Senate and as described in the Staff Senate constitution, various sub-committees and task forces were also established. One of these subcommittees is the Diversity and Inclusion subcommittee. The mission of this subcommittee, as defined in the Staff Senate constitution, is as follows:
“The Diversity and Inclusion subcommittee has oversight and advisory responsibility to ensure representation of diverse voices within the Staff Senate and seeks to advise the University on the overall composition of staff. The subcommittee will also advise the Senate on the issues of hiring, promoting and retention of diverse staff at the University.”
We will work to be effective by examining how we can create actions to generate progress of diversity and inclusion initiatives and we will work to learn what diversity and inclusion means to all constituents of the campus community."
So, where do we start?
To best shape our specific mission and establish our goals we must first understand what these words mean.
While the overarching goals of the Staff Senate Diversity and Inclusion subcommittee might align on paper with similar committees and initiatives on campus, it is imperative that we as a subcommittee examine the work taking place in this regard.
- How will we align with, differ from, and compliment the Campus Committee on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence (CCDIE)?
- What can we learn from the University’s Strategic Plan on Diversity and Inclusion and how do we incorporate this in our work?
- What is the Stockton Board of Trustees (BOT) 2019 Resolution on Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice at Stockton?
- What does the Office of Diversity and Inclusion do? How can we work together to support student equity and equitable decisions within the campus community?
Ideally, the Staff Senate Diversity and Inclusion subcommittee shall utilize and leverage existing resources, while adding an extension of support in the form of staff. We will work to be effective by examining how we can create actions to generate progress of diversity and inclusion initiatives and we will work to learn what diversity and inclusion means to all constituents of the campus community.
Diana Allen works in the Office of Residential Life.
Members of Staff Senate's D&I Subcommittee (2023)
- Chair – Diana Allen, Residential Life, Student Affairs
- Vice Chair – Megan Taylor, EOF, Student Affairs
- Jake Lehneis, Mail Services, Administration and Finance
- Jenifer Robin, Financial Aid, Enrollment Management
- Bill Mauroff, Grounds, Facilities and Operations
- Diana Strelczyk, Continuing Studies, Academic Affairs
- Ayisha Lee, Development and Alumni, University Advancement
- Loukaia Taylor, University Relations and Marketing, University Advancement
- Haashim Smith-Johnson, Admissions, Enrollment Management
- Nicolas Zebrowski, Hammonton Instructional Site, Academic Affairs