Even though U.S. universities are technologically and administratively well-endowed, public support for higher education is low and campus conflicts are seen as commonplace. According to Yvette Alex-Assensoh, UO vice president for equity and inclusion, the missing ingredient is simple: love.
Alex-Assensoh wrote an article on the topic for Diverse, a magazine that deals with issues in higher education. She recognizes that her call for “sacrificial love” on higher education campuses might be met with cynicism.
“Some even dismiss it as a cheap way to accommodate the academically unqualified, opting instead to search for viable answers in policies, legal counsel, strategic planning, unions, endowments and technology,” she writes. “These elements are not in short supply, yet the issues plaguing campus life continue to persist, seemingly unhindered.”
Alex-Assesoh believes love can be expressed on college and university campuses in a number of ways. Leaders can lend their ears to diverse viewpoints. Staff and students can care for themselves and others. Campuses can welcome free speech while embracing empathy and inclusivity.
“Incorporate the practice of love as a guiding principle of engagement in course syllabi, faculty meetings, university governing bodies, policymaking and budgeting,” she writes. “Students can encourage our colleges and universities to embrace our full humanity by modeling sacrificial love in the classroom and in co-curricular activities. Governing Boards can make sacrificial love a guiding principle in resource allocation and agenda setting.”
For more, see “What’s love got to do with it?” in Diverse magazine.
Alex-Assensoh joined the UO in 2012. She leads the university’s strategic diversity planning efforts, development of institutional policies and coordination of research and evaluation infrastructure for diversity work.