Ron Strege has been the director of the Diversity & College Access for nearly twenty years but will no longer be part of the university after this year.
According to the university’s website, “The objective of the Diversity and College Access Office is to conduct activities and provide services which enhance cultural diversity at UW-Stevens Point.”
In his former position, Strege’s duties ranged from presenting lectures on diversity to being a father figure to students on campus.
Strege has played an important role in many student’s lives both professionally and emotionally. As a result, the changing role of DCA coming this year shows Strege will be missed.
Programs like DCA have been criticized as being designed to help minority groups because this help may seem unequal.
Today in the news there is controversy surrounding concepts such as safe spaces or trigger warnings.
“I find the people who disparage safe spaces on campus tend to be people who have never needed safe spaces to go to because the world is their safe space,” Strege said.
Everyone has lived completely different lives and it’s hard to empathize with each other but he suggests trying to understand the difficulties others might face.
Even though Strege has had to deal with negative issues and situations on campus, he said that he has met some of the best and most passionate people in his life with this job, staff and students alike.
Working in a position like DCA you end up learning more from your job than you ever did in school.
“When I took this job I was really smart and I knew everything there was to know about diversity and then I did it for two months and I realized how dumb I was, which was really difficult for me because I’m egotistical. Now, I just love sitting down with students and saying ‘tell me your story,’” Strege said.
The best part of this job, according to Strege, is how it has opened his mind to looking at issues in ways he never has before.
Strege thinks he connects to students well, not because he is hip or young, but because he admits he doesn’t know things and is willing to listen.
He challenges students who are not part of a marginalized group to imagine themselves being the “other” and not the default in a community or university.
“Try to navigate around this campus on a wheelchair in the middle of winter. Give it a day, see how it is and you’ll see why people get super salty when the city plows push the snow into the sidewalks.”
Lisa Nguyen, senior interior architecture major, said, “Not a lot of people realize how Ron has made an impact on the students, staff, and our university.”
Nguyen is worried that with the departure of Strege, and all the changes with DCA, that there will not be someone directly focused on personally helping students.
“If Ron leaves, that means every student who usually looks for him will go to Laurie Graboski-Bauer, who works in the Multicultural Resource Center, as well as Marc Young and Scott West who work in Admissions– which they already have students that go to them for help,” Nguyen said.
There is a lot of confusion among students who have gone to Strege in the past concerning the future of this campus and they have voiced their anger to administration.
Nguyen said, “The staff in Old Main don’t realize what those people whom I’ve mentioned have done for this university. I am upset with the actions they plan to take in removing Ron from this school.”
Regardless of the future of DCA and the rest of student affairs at the university, Strege’s time here will be missed.
Strege said, “I have no earthly business being good at this job I am a white male heterosexual Christian-upbringing. But, what I’ve been able to do is connect because I know what it feels like to fail, I know what it feels like to let people down, and what it feels like to feel let down.”
As of now, Vice Chancellor Al Thompson is the interim director of DCA. By the end of the year, there will be a definite plan on different staff positions and the format of the diversity resources on campus.