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Free Speech Alley is located directly in front of the LSU Student Union on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.

The University received its seventh diversity award by a publication that has been honoring this flagship school with a prestigious award it doesn’t deserve since 2012.

INSIGHT Into Diversity is the U.S.’s oldest and largest diversity magazine in higher education. The magazine’s definition of diversity goes beyond race and ethnicity.

Discrimination toward race, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, medical condition, expression, history, veteran status and sexuality is condemned by INSIGHT.

INSIGHT’s main goal is to have national conversations about diversity and inclusion. The magazine wants to engage readers by striving to create a more inclusive culture on academic and corporate campuses.

The magazine manifests this idea through thought-provoking articles on current trends and news, interviews with innovators or experts, explorations of popular practices and profiles of successful programs and initiatives.

Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) is an award INSIGHT gives to colleges and universities that demonstrate outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion across the U.S. and Canada.

HEED’s higher education recipients emphasize the importance of diversity through programs, outreach, student recruitment, retention, completion and hiring practices of faculty and staff.

Higher education institutions must apply to be considered for HEED. It’s free to apply. Representatives of Potomac Publishing, INSIGHT’s publisher, evaluate applications and select institutions they believe thoroughly show diversity and inclusion.

INSIGHT’s Editorial Board and Health Professions HEED Award Advisory Board members sometimes help representatives during the evaluation and selection process.

HEED recipients receive a certificate, a copy of INSIGHT’s latest issue recipients are honored in and complimentary access to HEED’s logo for promotional use in print and online marketing materials.

The University, along with 92 other higher education institutions, will be featured in INSIGHT’s November issue. The Office of Diversity tries to enhance diversity, equality and inclusion. The office wants to improve the campus’ climate and prepare students to be culturally aware and engaged locally, nationally and globally.

In 2018, the University didn’t receive the award because there were technical issues with the application.

The University has become more diverse in ethnicity and gender. Each year, the institution welcomes larger incoming freshmen classes with higher percentages of minorities than previous years.

Although the University has become more diverse in ethnicity and gender, some students are still close-minded in an environment with people from different walks of life.

This is dangerous for students who come from minority groups or for students whose lifestyles don’t align with traditional values.

Several discriminatory incidents occurred since the University first received the award. Staff doesn’t effectively serve affected students the justice they deserve.

University student Clarke Perkins tweeted a picture of what appeared to be a noose hanging from a tree on campus. The University released a statement saying the “noose” was part of a weather prevention system that came loose and reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining a safe learning environment for students in 2015.

Perkins said if black students were more accepted on campus, she wouldn’t have immediately thought it was a noose.

The next year, Perkins found “Go Back 2 Africa N----r Monkeys” written on a Halloween decoration hanging outside the door of her University House apartment. Alexander said if University students were responsible for the incident, they would be prosecuted under the Student Code of Conduct. Due to lack of a deep investigation, the perpetrator was never found.

A white University student suggested the creation of a “White Student Union” on her Facebook page. She later said she never intended to offend anyone and renounced her proposal in 2016.

University student Jawan Fox had swastikas drawn on his neck at a party he attended.

Partygoers said Fox shouldn’t have been offended by the swastikas since he’s black not Jewish the same year. The University did not release a statement regarding the incident.

A University student appeared in a social media post holding a plush monkey by a noose.

Members of LSU African American Ambassadors contacted Alexander, but claimed the University considered the photo “freedom of speech” in 2018.

Gymnast Sami Durante was criticized for posting a picture of Mandarin writing on a classroom projector with the caption “Excuse me sir...we’re in America,” leading to backlash on social media on August 28.

Political science sophomore Foxworth Vidrine reportedly yelled racial slurs at biology freshman Christy Nguyen and her friends as they were exiting Tiger Stadium during the LSU vs. Georgia Southern football game.

No higher education institution is perfect. The Office of Diversity can’t influence the mindsets of some students who are unwilling to acknowledge and correct their ignorance or hate which inflicts pain on students and create unsafe learning environments.

Alexander, faculty and staff, present students and future students must work together and hold close-minded individuals accountable for their disrespectful actions.

Incidents must be closely investigated. Students should report unethical behavior. Alexander must pass more specific and strict code of laws about diversity, so students who violate them can be appropriately prosecuted.

Until this occurs, all seven awards need to be returned to INSIGHT.

Jasmine Edmonson is a 21-year-old mass communication junior from Denham Springs, Louisiana.

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