On March 14, the board of visitors adopted the Principles of Community, an endorsed document affirming Virginia Tech?s view on diversity issues. The principles were not only signed by the board of visitors, but also by President Charles W. Steger Jr., the Staff Senate, Faculty Senate, Student Government Association, Graduate Student Assembly, Virginia Tech Alumni Association and the Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity." We (the administration) feel like we?ve accomplished a lot by having the Principles of Community adopted and by having organizations sign it," said David R. Ford, vice provost for academic affairs. "The second thing to be accomplished is a constant awareness of the principles and, thirdly, to have people within the community carry out the Principles of Community so that it is an action agenda rather than a passive agenda."
The office of multicultural affairs has been actively working this summer to inform faculty, staff and now students about the Principles of Community. In addition to formal presentations, the office of multicultural affairs has been posting copies of the signed document in classrooms, offices and other on-campus locations.Incoming freshmen received copies of the principles via bookmarks and postcards at summer orientation."The responsibility (of applying the principles) is to the entire university community. We play a role in such things as the production of copies of the document to be displayed at orientation and speeches and we will continue to facilitate that," said Benjamin Dixon, vice president of multicultural affairs.
In another effort to put the principles into action, the office of multicultural affairs drafted a "How To Guide for the Virginia Tech Principles of Community," which is available on its website. The document provides ideas on how to incorporate the Principles of Community in the workplace, classroom, student organizations and other facets associated with the university."The guidebook placed online is an evolving document," Dixon said. "We believe there will be good examples of people using them in everyday situations that could be included in the guidebook. There is no area in the university operation where they don?t have some utility."
The Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity developed the Principles of Community with the support of the board of visitors after the board decided to eliminate affirmative action in the spring of 2003. Although the BOV later revoked the decision, Ray Plaza, chairman of the commission, feels the action tainted Tech?s image."The board?s actions in the meeting in March countered the spirit of diversity and created an uproar," Plaza said. "Those actions were taken back, but they left a black eye on campus."
The commission began working on the statement last fall and revealed the final document at the annual Diversity Summit last January. The Principles were officially adopted when the BOV approved the diversity resolution at their quarterly meeting in March.
"As the developer, the Commission (on Equal Opportunity and Diversity) is like the gatekeeper to what happens with the Principles and the office of multicultural affairs supports our efforts," Plaza said.The commission is currently planning an anniversary celebration of the signing of the Principles to take place March 14, 2006. The day will be dedicated to celebrating the values and ideals upheld by the Principles through guest speakers, speeches and other on-campus events, Plaza said."Our main goal is that we, the Virginia Tech community, live the statement and that it is not just a document on the wall," Plaza said.