Alum presents solutions to racial disparity, hate flyers


Joseph Flynn Jr., a candidate for the Eastern senior diversity and inclusion officer position, talks to faculty during the open session Tuesday afternoon in the Black Box Theatre. Flynn currently works at Northern Illinois University as the associate director of academic affairs for the Center for Black Studies.

Madelyn Kidd, News Editor

An Eastern alum of 1993 visited Eastern Tuesday as a candidate for the position of senior diversity and inclusion officer and gave advice on what the university could do in response to racial disparities.

Joseph Flynn, the associate director of academic affairs for the center of black studies at Northern Illinois University, is one of two candidates for the position of senior diversity and inclusion officer visiting campus this week.

During the visit, the candidates meet various administrators, tour the campus and have an open session with faculty and with students.

Flynn gave possible solutions the university could do in response to issues involving diversity and inclusivity presented to him by students.

For the recent flyers with hate speech dispersed around campus twice this semester, Flynn gave suggestions for what Eastern could due with the limited options a public campus has.

“First and foremost, you have to have very strong statements of intolerance of that kind of speech and that kind of tactic coming from the president’s office, the senior diversity officers office, as well as other university leadership,” Flynn said. “…There’s not much that you can do to stop it from happening, but for historically marginalized students especially, it’s not whether or not it happens that’s the problem. It’s what does the university do about it afterwards. So in addition to messaging, I think it also becomes important to hold town hall events… In those spaces, people can not only air their concerns, but they can also ask questions. It becomes an opportunity for the administration to have its feet held to the fire.”

Flynn also proposed ideas for lessening the gap between Eastern’s community and Charleston’s community, and how students of color experience different racial disparities once they step off campus.

“I think building strong relationships among the university, City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce and the local schools is essential,” Flynn said. “Because if something happens to a student, say they’re just shopping at a thrift shop or whatever. And that student gets back to campus and talks about what happened at the store. That’s when someone from the university gets in touch with the Chamber of Commerce and says, ‘Hey, this just happened. We need to do something about this and nip this in the bud before it gets out of control.’”

Flynn received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Eastern in 1993, a masters in curriculum studies from DuPaul University in 1999 and a doctorate in curriculum, teaching and education policy in 2007 from Michigan State University.

The second candidate for the position of senior diversity and inclusion officer at Eastern is Kim O’Reilly. 

O’Reilly will visit Eastern on Friday, and there will be an open session for faculty and for students in Doudna Fine Arts Center Black Box Theatre. 

The faculty open session will be from 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. and the student open session is from 2:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.


Madelyn Kidd can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].