Parrott aims for inclusive campus


David Parrott speaks at an open forum about being the Vice President of Student Affairs. Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010. Photo by Britney McIntosh

Protecting students’ rights regardless of their background or lifestyle is one of the objectives David Parrott presented to students on Thursday.

Parrott, a Kentucky native, was the first candidate for the position of vice president of Student Affairs to visit the UK campus. Parrott spoke with students and faculty at an open forum about his mission for the university if selected for the job.

Parrott spoke on the importance of different viewpoints coming together to create new policies regarding issues such as diversity.

One example Parrott gave of how he helped improve diversity at Texas A&M, where he currently serves as the executive associate vice president and dean of Student Affairs, was the creation of the Racial and Ethnic Harassment Rule in 2008.

According to the Texas A&M Web site, the rule punishes students who convey a serious racial or ethnic message that violates a breach of peace, express an intention to commit violence, accompany illegal conduct or advocate the use of force.

Parrott said he aims to protect the rights of all types of students, even those who are not following what may be the norm.

“Because someone is acting in an unusual way … is not grounds for removal,” he said. “There’s a lot of fear and concern when that occurs, and so we have an obligation to protect the rights of all people in that scenario.”

Parrott advocated the interaction of different types of people through student groups, which he said have helped increase retention rates at Texas A&M. Students who work in teams of people with different backgrounds and life experiences will likely be successful after college, he said.

“If you as a student don’t leave the university with a skill set of being able to lead and follow people that are different than you … if you cannot lead and follow in that setting, you will not be as successful as someone who can,” Parrott said.

Parrott also addressed the topic of Greek life on campuses and said he is a supporter of Greek life and has spoken to several Greek organizations on his current campus.

“I’m very supportive of Greek(s),” he said. “I think they’re a healthy part of a college experience.”

Alex Oliva, a secondary education sophomore and member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, said he attended the forum because he wants to see someone who looks at the positives of Greek life to fill the position.

When addressed with campus alcohol policies, Parrott said it is important for the university to interfere, but only to a certain point.

“We have an obligation to help students with those issues up to a point, but we would be short-term help and referral, and that’s not our main job. … I think doing nothing is wrong morally, ethically and probably legally,” he said.

Parrott has also held a student affairs position at Western Kentucky University and Western Michigan University, but said he has had a strong desire to be at UK for a long time because of the university’s desire to become a nationally recognized institution.

“The fact that it’s in my home state is icing on the cake,” he said.