The Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employment programs on campus are here to ensure that the faculty and staff at Stony Brook are as diverse as the student population they work with.
The university feels that it is important to enrich every student by maintaining diversity among its faculty and staff. It is also legally required to be an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer by the federal government because it is a state-run institution, according to the Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Guide to Federal Laws, Executive Orders and Regulations.
‘We actually have a program to break the glass ceiling,’ said Christina Vargas Law, the associate director of the Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action on campus. ‘Faculty and staff must match the diversity of the student body. Students absolutely need to see people they can relate to and people that are succeeding in their field.’
The Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action is the official legal enforcer of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action throughout the entire university.
The office reviews hiring patterns, enforces Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act, collects the demographic data of the students, faculty and staff and provides counseling to students who feel they have been discriminated against and educational programs to the campus community to prevent discrimination.
‘There are a lot of myths about the program,’ Law said. ‘People don’t know the real definitions. It’s not about preferential treatment or quotas and it’s not about hiring unqualified people. We just provide access as positions open up.’
There is no Affirmative Action program for the admission of students at Stony Brook University. Students are admitted entirely on their credentials and the diversity of the student population occurred on its own, according to Law.
‘[The diversity] has a lot to do with students feeling welcome,’ Law said. ‘Students may also encourage their family and friends to attend this school. We are also close to [Manhattan] so we may be more diverse because of that.’
Law explained that the exact definition of equal employment opportunity is to hire people based solely on one’#146;s individual merit without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, handicapping conditions, marital status or criminal record.
Affirmative action is a series of actions in hiring taken to eliminate effects of past discrimination or to prevent discrimination, according to Law. Affirmative Action offices in Albany are reviewing SBU’s demographic data of the faculty and staff right now. The figures will be available shortly and the numbers should be similar to past years.
The actions taken by the office to provide a faculty and staff as diverse as the student population seems less important to students. Many students expressed that Equal Opportunity Employment is more important than Affirmative Action.
Sagheer Shaikh, a senior from Nesconset, agrees that only credentials should matter. ‘As long as a teacher can speak English,’ she said. ‘If they’re qualified, get the best person for the job. I don’t think any thing else should make a difference.’
Law, however, stands by her efforts in Affirmative Action and feels that it is essential to the complete development of the student body. ‘I personally feel there is still a need for Affirmative Action,’ she said. ‘I think a diverse campus helps every student. It’s so important to enrich students inside and outside the classroom. Every day you can learn something new.’