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Office of the President and Center for Student Services Collaborate for Equity

by Shannon O’Dell

The Office of the President, in collaboration with the Office for Student Services, have established a special initiative to create a culture of equity at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

Formed over the summer, Opening Pathways to Equity Now, called The OPEN Project for short, follows the work of the Social Justice Committee. The task force’s goal is to nurture equity throughout every dimension on the campus.

Dr. Gilmer defends equality as treating everyone in the same manner. “Equity means giving everyone what they need to have a reasonable chance to achieve equal success,” Dr. Gilmer said in an announcement to the university.

Equality commonly concerns minority populations in relation to race, sex, sexual orientation, veterans’ status, etc. It can also apply to first-generation college students or those with a lower social class. However, equality isn’t strictly limited to those classifiers. Those from a majority population still deserve equal treatment. 

According to Dr. Gilmer, the state of West Virginia has been historically overlooked by the realm of higher education. Thus, “one could make a credible case that every one of our students, even the best-prepared academically and the ones from the wealthiest families, are historically-underserved and in need of Opening Pathways to Equity Now,” Dr. Gilmer said

The Office of the President doesn’t believe or accuse any groups or offices on campus of failing to support equity. However, Dr. Gilmer hopes that by putting a system of equity in place that everyone “can all engage in it more collectively, systematically and thoroughly.”

The OPEN task force is led by staff chair Austin Grimmett and student chair Brooke Buchanan. The task force is mentored by Kurt Klettner. The chairs chose ten members comprised of students, faculty and staff members of WVU Parkersburg. To be considered for admission to the project, candidates submitted a one-minute video or a 100-word written response to one of two prompts surrounding equity and what the candidate would like to accomplish with the OPEN Project.

The OPEN Project currently plans to bring special programming on campus that focuses on fostering equity for all students, staff and faculty at WVU Parkersburg.

In addition to establishing the OPEN Project, Dr. Gilmer asked Student Services to focus on equity when planning events and programs for student engagement. He also asked the Office of Human Resources to ensure that equity is considered in hiring and staffing decisions, and for the Office of Institutional Advancement to ensure that equity is considered when awarding and funding scholarships.
Office of the President and Center for Student Services Collaborate for Equity

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