Interim President Marcia J. White sent the following message to students and employees today (July 24) following our Campus Conversation on Diversity and Inclusion:
Dear Students and Colleagues,
I want to thank those of you who were able to join today’s Campus Community Conversation on our diversity and inclusion efforts. Please mark your calendars for our next conversation on Friday, August 7 at noon via Zoom.
These meetings serve as one of the ways we share the progress we are making toward building capacity for inclusive excellence and changing the culture of our institution. It is also one of the ways we will hear feedback from you, our campus community, along the way.
If you were not able to attend today’s conversation, I want to share some important updates:
As stressed by Yolanda Caldwell, the director of the College’s Women’s Leadership Institute and BOLD Women’s Leadership Network who I have asked to lead us through this process, we will conduct this work using a framework that is built upon three pillars:
- Active Listening: Center and focus on the speaker instead of one’s own perspectives – this improves mutual understanding without debate and judgment.
- Speaking from the Heart: Communicate honestly and consistently to build trust.
- Acting with: Engage with the community to create action plans and resolutions to create a community that operates with integrity, interdependence, and mutual respect.
We are starting with four action items:
Creation of an advisory committee: Leading the work will be an advisory committee of representatives from throughout our campus community. As I said during the meeting, the committee will be big enough to be representative and small enough to get the work done. Members will be faculty, staff, administrators, students, parents, and alumni. They will represent the various divisions at the College and the four schools. They will create a framework to begin addressing the many requests and issues raised recently by various stakeholders within our community, and will build on the work of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. We hope to finalize the composition of this group by the end of next week and will share the names of the representatives at www.strose.edu/diversity.
Organizing anti-racist training: We cannot do this work until we look within and educate ourselves on how to be an anti-racist community. As the start of the semester is near, Resident Assistants (RAs) and Security will receive anti-racist training before the fall semester begins. We are currently identifying who will do the training for our entire community (students and employees), how the training will be delivered, and how we can follow through to ensure that everyone participates. The training will be delivered in a mix of modalities and formats.
Revising the bias and discrimination reporting system: We have already changed the bias and discrimination reporting process to make it more accessible and allow for three means of reporting: anonymous, informal, and formal. You can view details on the website. Right now, the work is focused on revising the process for investigating and resolving reports. We plan to have a new process in place by the start of classes, and we will engage the community in reviewing a draft of the policy. We all must recognize that these policies are complex and involve human resources issues and laws.
Hiring a director for diversity and inclusion: We are launching a national search for a director of diversity and inclusion. This is a pre-existing administrative position at the College that has been vacant since April 2020. The director will serve as a point person on these issues, as a resource to cultural groups and clubs, and plan programming.
If you are interested in being involved in these efforts, you can do it in several ways: Do not be silent about incidents of bias and discrimination, volunteer to serve by filling out the form at www.strose.edu/diversity under the Participate section, and join us in these biweekly conversations.
We must do this work together – as one. In order for us to begin the process of healing and reconciliation, we need honest and open conversations. Although we sometimes say we want these conversations, truth is really hard to hear, and we need to accept that during this process there will be many moments of discomfort.
My commitment to you is transparency and information. We have created a website – www.strose.edu/diversity – to assist with this, and we will update it with information, resources, and opportunities to connect.
Continue to be engaged. Continue to hold us accountable. Continue to speak your truths. All of this will allow us to become the Saint Rose we were founded to be.