New chancellor met with new expectations from students

From more diverse faculty to buffer security guards, students have a handful of hopes and expectations for Chancellor Sheila Edwards Lange’s administration.

UW Tacoma’s new chancellor, Sheila Edwards Lange, was appointed by the UW Board of Regents on Sept. 16. Reacting to the news, students have welcomed the new leader and displayed a myriad of wants and needs; ranging from new food to funding for new clubs.

Student Paris Markley said she and her friends welcomed the addition as it leads to a more diverse administration and believes that this is among the first signs of things to come when it comes to creating a more diverse campus. 

“Whether it was on purpose or not, my friends and I are glad that we’re hiring more [people of color] in authority positions,” she said, “Some of my [POC] friends were talking about us having a new chancellor and that’s actually how I found out about it.”

Markley said she hopes that this tendency will trickle down from its faculty to the student clubs and general population.

“I think the [Board of Regents] made a great decision,” she said, “Not just because of her experience in the education field but as a POC person, I think she’ll see how to better help the POC student body and programs like the BSU.”

Arabic Student Hamza Hanfi Dilawer shared similar sentiments regarding the importance of diversity in higher education, in particular, when it comes to his religion. Dilawer shared some of his current problems as an Islamic student and ways the school can help him adjust. 

“I mean, even though UWT’s already pretty diverse and has more Islamic students than expected, the community itself is quite weak,” Dilawer said.

He explained that although the school technically does have support for Muslim students, the difficulties he personally experienced in finding and using those services made the religious support at UWT feel more like it was done more out of obligation than from a genuine desire to assist Muslims.

“There’s some days where my family wants me to take days off and it’s a lot harder for some teachers to accept religious exemptions than others,” Dilawer said. 

“It’s harder to get days off than you might think,” he explained, “Sometimes I even feel guilty asking. I hope the new chancellor takes these things into consideration and puts more emphasis on religious accommodations for some students even if it makes teaching a bit harder.”

Another factor making it difficult for him to feel more comfortable on campus as a religious student is the lack of a close-knit Islam community. Compared to his old school, the Muslim students tend to keep each other at a distance. Organizations feel less like a family and more like just another class.

“I feel like having more events like Muslim student meetups would help people like me feel a lot more welcome on campus,” he said, “We never really had those with the previous chancellor and I think it would help a lot this time around.”

Other students didn’t ask for much from the new chancellor other than a higher emphasis on student safety at all hours. Student Amanda Sides and Sydney Moncrief have both shared the desire for more security guards on campus and more safety protocols.

“We’re in downtown Tacoma so some criminal activity is to be expected,” Sides said, “But that doesn’t mean our school has to be a part of that. I’ve seen a lot of homeless people try and come into campus to use our bathrooms then leave with paraphernalia in the stalls. Though I haven’t experienced any trouble yet, the campus does feel less safe at night considering the part of Tacoma we’re in and with there being fewer security guards and whatnot.”

Moncrief also didn’t have much wishes from the school other than more security, preferably higher-tech. 

“I don’t really expect that much because I usually feel fine coming here. But I like the security buttons we have on campus that students can use in emergencies and wish we could have more of those. Other than that, I think this school is great and I wish the new chancellor the best of luck in terms of maintaining it,” added Moncrief.