Saturday, May 27, 2023

Locklear Making Changes on Campus

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Dr. Lawrence Locklear looking through some of the resource materials his office has for various communities on campus. PN Photo/Zachary C. Young

Zachary Bullard has been a graduate assistant with OSID since August 2020. PN Photo/Zachary C. Young

By: Zachary C Young, Editor-In-Chief

Since December 2019, Dr. Lawrence Locklear has served as Director of The Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity (OSID).

Locklear obtained a history degree from NC State University, as well as a bachelors in American Indian studies and a Master of Public Administration at UNCP. Locklear received his Ph.D. in educational studies with a concentration in higher education and a minor in educational research methodology from UNCG.

Locklear has been an employee at UNCP since 1999.

While attending NC State, Locklear said he was on a journey of self-exploration since he was one of approximately 150 Native American students on his campus. While trying to determine who he was and what it meant to be Native American, his time in undergrad was the start of his allyship in the fight for inclusion.

“The more I understood about my own culture, the more I saw how closely connected the struggles of American Indian peoples is to other minoritized and marginalized people,” Locklear said. A proud member of The Lumbee Tribe of North
Carolina, Locklear served on Lumbee tribal council from 2005 to 2008 as a representative for the North Pembroke district which includes where the university is located. For two of those three years he was the speaker for the tribal council which is the equivalent of the speaker of the house in Congress.

Locklear is the co-author of “Hail to UNCP!” This book was published in 2014 to commemorate the 125th year anniversary of UNCP. The book ends when the 125th anniversary celebration ends.

“Hail to UNCP!” consists of important events and people in the university’s history, as well as historical context behind certain locations on campus.

While in his current position, Locklear and staff pride themselves on offering resource lists for members of a variety of communities, including but not limited to LGBTQ, Asian American, African American, commuter students and more.

While the director for OSID, Locklear and his staff have established 16 diversity awareness planning committees. This brings together students, faculty and staff so they can collaborate to plan diversity related events around certain communities. These communities also help coordinate MLK week activities and social justice symposiums.

“It’s meant as a way to bring the campus community together to give everybody a voice and to also increase awareness of those communities.”

Locklear hopes to create visibility for some of the lesser known or engaged with groups on campus. He said everything that OSID does is about creating a more inclusive campus for students, so everyone feels welcomed.

Another initiative that OSID has incorporated under Locklear’s leadership is the addition of lavender graduation for students who identify as members of the LGBTQ community. These students are presented with lavender stolls to wear at graduation.

The lavender stolls were first issued during the December 2020 commencement. OSID graduate assistant, Zachary Bullard was instrumental in bringing lavender graduation to UNCP and credits the support of Locklear as the driving force behind the program’s success.

“I did not think something like that would were able to do that,” Bullard said.

Additionally, OSID tables at the UC and other locations on campus during various cultural awareness months. They can often been seen playing traditional music and passing out snacks from those cultures. Again, raising the visibility of these communities on campus.

As a part of Welcome Week, Locklear brought in dance instructors from Fayetteville to teach students how to salsa and ballroom dance. Calling student’s love for dancing and music a natural combination.

Locklear believes that these types of initiatives will increase a student’s sense of belonging. Saying if the students feel included and like they belong at UNCP, they are more likely to succeed in their educational journey.

OSID is located in Old Main 124 and has recently undergone some renovations, making it more inviting to students.

New furniture, new paint job and new carpet, making it more inviting to students.

The old conference room is now the student longue. A place to study with dry erase board, a television, electronically height-adjustable work stations and canvas prints on the wall.

“Every photo you see up here is intentional, because we want every student to see themselves in this space,” Locklear said.

Locklear has his office focused on future efforts as well. Such as inclusive excellence awards to recognize students, faculty, staff, departments/offices and student orgs that develop programs and events that make campus more inclusive.

Also, Locklear hopes to create an intercultural student ambassador program, bringing students in to help the office with their programming and training.

Additionally, Locklear hopes to form a Bias Education Response Team (BERT). This would help identify gaps for reporting and investigating bias and hate incidents on campus, with the focus of BERT to be educating the campus.

OSID is currently looking to increase training and education on various issues ranging from microaggressions to unconscious bias. His office is also in the process of trying to identify all-gender restrooms on campus. So individuals who are trans can use the restroom without feeling as if they are being judged or questioned.

“When you’re trying to change the campus culture, it takes time and requires buy in from everybody. This office can lead the efforts, but we can’t be the only ones doing the work. Everybody has to do the work,” Locklear said. “Creating an inclusive environment starts with yourself. You need to understand who you are as a person, and understand any biases you may have towards other people whether they’re conscious or unconscious.”

Senior, Jessica Muniz has been a student of Locklear’s, taking his Lumbee culture and history course. Like Locklear, Muniz is a history major and is thankful for Locklear’s
teaching style by making the class develop historical interpretation skills.

“I look up to him as a scholar, and as a person too. I appreciate how active he is in the Lumbee community and he’s very passionate about what he studies. That’s something I strive to be as well. So I always value what he tells me,” said Muniz.

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