Larry Parker, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)/Title IX Coordinator, has only been with Elmira College for a short time. But over the past seven months, he has diligently ingrained cultural awareness and inclusive best practices, enriching the campus community. His three-tiered approach focuses on supporting students, improving cultural awareness campus-wide, and influencing strategies at an institutional level.

"We are early in our DEI journey but I am excited by the openness I have received from everyone on campus including students, staff, and faculty," said Parker.

Parker has spent much of his time advising the student clubs on how to enrich their opportunities and make sure they can express themselves in an effective way. He gave the Black Student Union advice as they planned their annual banquet, coached the International Club as they planned a Cinco De Mayo celebration, and gave a hand to the Brothers And Sisters In Christ (BASIC) club while they prepared a prayer vigil for the people of Ukraine. Additionally, Parker saw an opportunity to start a new club focused on the sizable EC athletic community.

"We started the Intercultural Student-Athlete Alliance," said Parker. "This is important to me because a large group like this could have a big impact on the campus."

The new club brings together student-athletes from different teams, representing different genders and cultural backgrounds. Starting next Fall, each sports team will be encouraged to create a fun activity and to have at least one person share something about his or her culture during the event. The idea is similar to a recent Mortal Kombat tournament organized by the eSports team. The tournament was open to all students and the team gave out a trophy and gift card to the winner. Plenty of students participated in the tournament but many also came to watch.

Another initiative includes renovating the Multicultural Center, located on the first floor of the Campus Center. The soon-to-be-called IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) Center will have new flooring and furniture and will become a place for the student clubs, their members, and the rest of the student body to meet, hang out, and hold events. Additionally, the College will open a prayer room in the Gannett-Tripp Library for students of any religion to privately worship at their discretion. Also, Parker partnered with the dining services team to help celebrate different cultures through food. Titled "Culinary Cultures," the dining hall will celebrate and feature foods from a different culture each month.

Parker's campus-wide initiatives include collaborating with a nearby college to bring students completing a social work practicum to Elmira, giving Elmira College students additional emotional support opportunities. Also, Parker is acquiring training to provide enrollment support, programming, and other services to international students. Finally, he plans to invite prominent DEI speakers to share their stories with the EC Community annually. This year, Parker invited Hala Tala, host of the Young and Profiting podcast and Founder and Chief Executive Officer of YAP Media, to speak.

"I'm targeting people that the students might know and who the students may admire professionally," said Parker.

Institutionally, Parker is working to influence policies and procedures while encouraging faculty to increase their awareness of how to make the campus more student-focused. He worked with Human Resources to incorporate language in job descriptions that will encourage more professionals of color to apply and began a collaborative book reading where employees can read the same DEI-related text and then discuss takeaways and ideas.

"The energy from the book read has been inspiring," said Parker. "We had a lot of participants and there was general recognition that we can and should do more to make ourselves a student-ready college."

For the coming year, Parker said he is excited to further grow the current programs and he has plenty more ideas for new initiatives. Chief among his goals is to secure grants that will help him implement those ideas, like hiring success advisors who can provide a holistic support system for traditionally underrepresented students such as first-generation students and those with learning differences.

Share This Page