Last semester, Charissa Owens assumed the role of chair of the College of Charleston’s Staff Advisory Committee to the President (SAC). Here, the director of diversity education and training in the Office of Institutional Diversity (OID) talks about her new post and the responsibility that comes with it:

Chair for the Staff Advisory Committee to the President is a role with great responsibility – a role I gave careful consideration before accepting the nomination. When I learned I was elected uncontested, I was unsure if that was a good thing. I told the past president, “I have a big mouth. I hope they know that.”  

So much went through my mind when I learned I was elected, but my thoughts stayed anchored to my unofficial duty as keeper of the light. Since the debut of the documentary, If These Walls Could Talk, I’ve been honorably marked as a keeper of the light. It is an informal responsibility associated with my position in the Office of Institutional Diversity because of the compassionate yet honest approach I take when educating our campus about the broader inequitable experiences of historically underrepresented groups. Knowing what I know about the College’s history, I envision my service in this role as another lever the College is taking in elevating the presence, stories and achievements of historically underrepresented groups at the College of Charleston. 

Therefore, it is my hope my service in this position will be a beacon showing campus members what it looks like to enact our core value of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. I hope my voice will embolden others to intentionally make everyone feel valued — especially Black, Indigenous and people of color. I hope my presence will imbue sustainable actions where everyone (without side-eyes or heavy sighs) can honestly say the College of Charleston is a great place to work for.