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The following update on the September 4 campus conversation on diversity and inclusion was emailed to Saint Rose students, faculty, staff, and administrators today (September 8) by Yolanda Caldwell, director of the Women’s Leadership Institute and BOLD Women’s Leadership Network who was also appointed to lead these recent diversity and inclusion efforts.

Dear Students and Colleagues,

I hope you had a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend.

On Friday, we held our bi-weekly campus conversation on diversity and inclusion via Zoom. We provided an update to the 70 student, faculty, and staff attendees on actions we’ve taken toward building the College’s capacity for inclusive excellence, including the revised bias response policy.

But I want to start with one very important message: Our nation’s focus on racial justice this summer cannot be reduced to a fad. It cannot become a hot topic that has cooled. What happened this summer as people poured into the streets was a call for real change – the dismantling of hundreds of years of systemic racism – and at Saint Rose, we will answer the call. Students asked for action, and we have delivered change already, but these are steps in our journey. There is much more to come. We must keep doing the work. This is our movement. This is our community.

The next conversation will be held from noon to 1 p.m. September 18 via Zoom (Passcode: Saint Rose). We hope you’ll join us. In the meantime, here is where we stand in our steps forward:

The Bias Response Policy
The need to revise the College’s policy for reporting and investigating incidents of bias and discrimination became clear in the summer of 2020, prompted by discussions about racial injustice that were happening not only in our own College community but around the nation. Our students shared their experiences, and it was important, especially as a college that was founded with the mission of creating an inclusive community, that we addressed their concerns.

It is essential that every member of our community – students and employees – feel at HOME at Saint Rose.

The new bias response policy, which was drafted by a diverse and representative committee of faculty, administrators, alumni, and students, was approved by the President’s Cabinet on September 3, 2020. You can find the new bias response policy here. Many, many thanks to the Committee for the hours and weeks they spent on researching other policies, discussing, drafting, and editing this policy for Saint Rose.

Top takeaways on the new bias response policy:

  • The new policy clarifies and makes more accessible the process for reporting bias incidents. Reports can be filed either anonymously or named, and reporting can be done online. Reports can be made by either a complainant (the person who says they are a victim of a bias incident) or a witness to the bias incident. Notifications of bias incidents brought to faculty, supervisors, or area heads will be referred to the Bias Response Team (BRT).
  • The Bias Response Team replaces the previous system, where there was a single investigator for incidents who was assigned based on the type of bias report. The Bias Response Team is a group of diverse, trained administrators, faculty, staff, and students who receive, review, and respond to notifications of bias-related incidents. Two Bias Response Team members will be assigned to investigations. The team will make recommendations upon conclusion of the investigation.
  • A preponderance of the evidence or “more likely than not” to have occurred standard of review will be used to determine recommended actions at the conclusion of the bias investigation.
  • The College will take steps to ensure that the complainant and any witnesses are protected from retaliation.
  • Regardless of who the subject of the bias investigation is – student, administrator, staff, or faculty member – if the recommendation is disciplinary action, it can be taken (including suspension, dismissal, or termination) following the appropriate process. An appeal process is also in place.

21 Day Equity Challenge
In August, the United Way of the Greater Capital Region coordinated a 21 Day Equity Challenge, a virtual learning experience to build more effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership. At Saint Rose, 115 people participated in the challenge.

We will hold additional programming with the 115 participants in the challenge to talk about their experiences. We will also be announcing a Saint Rose-specific equity challenge in the weeks to come, so we can engage our entire community in this work.

Training for our Community
Various segments of our community have already received some form of diversity training, and we will be working to scale these efforts to our entire community. The resident assistants (RAs), Security, and music department are just some of the segments of campus who have undertaken this work. As a companion to our convocation for faculty, staff, and administrators at the start of the semester, we heard from Dr. Gailda Davis, director of professional learning for the American Council on Education, who delivered the Michael and Margaret Picotte Presidential Lecture in Higher Education Innovation and Leadership, and led us in constructive dialogue around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Advisory Committee
Our advisory committee has been formed, and we will be introducing its members to the community in the coming week. Outside of the advisory committee, we will also be working with the many volunteers who have stepped forward – and who are we so grateful for – to assign them to some of the efforts that will move forward this semester. If you have signed up already, you will be hearing from us in the next couple of weeks. If you have not signed up to volunteer or you would like to share an idea, you can do so on this area of the website.

Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Working with students on the intercultural council, we will soon begin reviewing applicants for the director of diversity and inclusion position, which is an existing position that has been vacant since the spring. The position is posted, and we already have a strong applicant pool.

Thank you for your support in this work. Feel free to reach out to me (caldwely@strose.edu) if you have any questions or concerns.