MESA appoints new Associate Director

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 7:25pm

Tuesday afternoon, the University of Michigan’s Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs announced Krishna Han will serve as its new associate director. Han’s position will begin on Jan. 29, he fills the office previously held by former associate director Linh Nguyen.

MESA Director Nadia Bazzy welcomed Han in an email to Student Life affiliates, and described Han's past experiences working with multicultural organizations such as Black Student Union, Muslim Students’ Association, World Student Association and more. Han has also worked as the assistant director for Diversity Education and Cultural Programs at Bowling Green State University for more than five years. 

Bazzy’s email also described Han’s passion for ensuring that students from all backgrounds can access safe environments and equal opportunity.

“Krishna is passionate about transforming student experiences to build inclusive spaces and equitable opportunities for all and brings nearly a decade of experience working with minority groups in student life and university administration both nationally and internationally," Bazzy wrote. "He describes himself as a professionally trained Social Environmentalist who fell in love with student affairs."

However, Han’s appointment was not without controversy. The hiring process, which began in December, faced a boycott from several student organizations, such as La Casa and the Muslim Students' Association, after individuals from the Latino community criticized MESA for the lack of Latino representation in the search for the new associate director

An earlier statement from the Latinx Alliance for Community Action, Support, and Advocacy pointed out the absence of any Latino candidates from consideration.

“Members of the La Casa board were invited to participate in student sessions for the hiring of candidates for the Associate Director position. None of the candidates are Latinx individuals and across all of their cover letters and resumes, Latinx students were only mentioned by one candidate in a singular past experience,” the statement reads.

Yezeñia Sandoval, external director for La Casa, explained in an email to The Michigan Daily that while the organization fostered no resentment toward Han, they were disappointed with the inattention given to Latino input.

“La Casa is deeply disappointed to see MESA’s disregard for the Latinx voice in this hiring,” Sandoval wrote. “Without the Latinx voice at the table, along with other important voices from minority communities, MESA should have reconsidered its hiring practices, including its pool of applicants and job posting locations. This is not a personal attack on the person hired or their qualifications, but it creates a pattern of untouched potential in Latinx hiring pools.”

Sandoval furthered this sentiment by discussing how excluding members from the Latino community contradicts the efforts of the University to increase diversity. Enrollment reports released last semester showed Latino students make up about 6 percent of the student body. 

“The diversity the school seeks to achieve must go beyond proclamations of support.” Sandoval wrote. “How can the University say they value diversity when the Latinx community comprises such a significant portion of the nation’s population? Only 1.3 percent of all hires from 2015-2016 were Latinx individuals-and none of these hires resulted in the hiring of a Latinx person in senior leadership positions.” 

In the future, Sandoval hopes MESA, as well as the rest of the University, will ensure upcoming positions consider a diverse group of individuals before continuing with the hiring process.

“The lack of diversity and outreach to the Latinx community can be seen in almost every office on campus,” she wrote. “There needs to be a collective effort across departments and offices within the University to accept and only hire applicants if there is a diverse pool to begin with. More so, the University needs to prioritize the hiring of staff, faculty, and administrative leaders with knowledge and experience working with Latinx students, regardless of that person’s racial/ethnic background.”

Correction appended: a previous version of this article misstated Nguyen's role in MESA