Kim shares update, answers student questions


Santiago Covarrubias

Kim shares update, answers student questions

By Associate Editor

President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim addressed the college’s sexual assault awareness efforts and the upcoming rebranding initiative April 26 during the Student Government Association’s “Let’s Chat” forum. 

The event, attended by on-campus student leaders, organization members and other Columbia students at The Loft, 916 S. Wabash Ave., allowed Kim to answer students’ questions.

“I love these interactions,” Kim said. “I never know what’s coming; that makes it fun.”

Kim presented updates regarding the Strategic Plan implementation process, including the status of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and an explanation of its charge, and the completion of the Universal Learning Outcomes.

As reported on Page 4, Kim also announced that Columbia will not benefit from part of the approximately $170 million the Illinois legislature announced it would allocate for Monetary Award Program grants on April 23 because Columbia already covered MAP for the 2015–2016 academic year.

Bree Bracey, a sophomore theatre major and SGA senator for transfer students, asked Kim students’ ability to join the Sexual Assault Awareness Education Committee. She added that her question stemmed from concerns about Columbia’s sexual assault policies she heard while attending a recent  Title IX event hosted by the college’s Women in Film organization.

“Students expressed concerns about how sexual assault cases are handled,” Bracey said. “Mostly how the Chicago Police Department handles them, but also on Columbia’s campus.”

Bracey was told by Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Success, that there are 25 students on the committee, whose work is ongoing.

Kelly said specific complaints about how the college handles sexual assault cannot be discussed publicly, but it is an important issue that needs to be talked about.

“The investigations [of sexual assault on campus] have to follow the guidelines of Title IX and be done with privacy, so I can’t speak on that, but we want a campus that is totally educated about Title IX rights, responsibilities [and] resources,” Kelly said.

Izzy French, a freshman theatre and design double major who attended the forum, said she did not know the college had a Sexual Assault Awareness Education Committee, and its initiatives need to be better publicized.

“I haven’t seen a single poster or heard anything on social media,” French said of the committee.

There is still more to be done to raise awareness of sexual assault on campus, Kim said, adding that if students are unable to easily join the committee, they need other ways to get involved.

“The first issue for us is to make sure we’re in 100 percent compliance or as close as possible to federal regulations and [also] making sure of open information and inclusion,” Kim said. “We will think about more ways to keep students [aware] of how they can be involved.”

Kim also answered questions about the college’s rebranding process from Amanda Hamrick, SGA’s executive vice president and a junior interactive arts & media major.

The college’s marketing firm, Ologie, which, according to its website, has handled branding for Northwestern, Gonzaga, Purdue, Pratt Institute and other universities, will have plans ready to present to the college community in the fall that will include creating a cohesive image for the college. Kim said the main goal of the initiative is to create a way for the college to describe itself.

Hamrick said she understands the difficulty the college may face while attempting to rebrand its image to outsiders.

“Our college is one of the hardest colleges in Illinois to brand,” Hamrick said. “We have worked so hard to be diverse and unique and different,” she said, adding that these qualities made branding difficult.

Kim said the college decided on a branding messaging platform that will help Columbia be seen as a serious institution.

“This is not about reinventing Columbia; it’s about taking it up a notch this fall,” Kim said.