Oberlin College Response to Multicultural Working Groups proposals by LegalInsurrection


									We appreciate the substantial effort that more than 300 students have put into the
proposals for change on campus, and the valuable dialogue that has followed between the
student working group leadership, faculty, staff, and the administration. Change does not
happen because we wish it so; it only comes about by the implementation of specific,
concrete initiatives that over time re-shape campus practices and culture and support
critical institutional renewal.

While some of the proposals regarding faculty and staff recruitment and curricular
change fall in the realm of faculty governance and will require additional discussion
moving forward, most of the student proposals can be accomplished in a relatively short
timeframe. In fact, the College and Conservatory had already been working on a number
of them.

Agreements of current and future initiatives in support of our shared commitment to
diversity and inclusion, generated in collaboration between the student working group
leadership and the administration, include:

Conservatory Working Group

   •   Working to develop a program of advising and mentorship in conjunction with the
       MRC to better support students of diverse cultural identities, backgrounds and
       experiences. To support this initiative we will create a new position that will be
       half assistant dean and half musicology professor, with specialty in African
       American music. [position is already in the planning stages; search to be
       launched fall semester 2013]

   •   Establishing a space to serve as an MRC outpost. MRC staff will hold office
       hours in the Conservatory several times a week. [to be implemented during fall
       semester 2013]

   •   Expanding the Conservatory’s new student orientation programming to address
       issues of transition to Oberlin by students from diverse backgrounds and
       identities, and connections to advising and mentorship resources on campus and
       in the Conservatory. [partial implementation fall 2013, with design over 2013-
       14 academic year and full implementation fall 2014]

   •   Re-constituting the Conservatory Student Council and adding language to its
       charter relative to addressing issues of diversity and inclusion. This group will
       convene regularly with administration and faculty, provide liaisons to Student
       Senate, and provide delegates to Conservatory Committees as necessary. [to be
       implemented during 2013-14 academic year]

   •   Launching a series of workshops for faculty hosted by the MRC. [to be designed
       and implemented during 2013-14 academic year]
   •   Reviewing the scope and design of MHST 101 with consideration of diversity and
       inclusion issues [curricular discussions already in progress; expected
       completion by fall semester 2014]

Natural Sciences Working Group

   •   Embracing that many of the points raised by the students apply to all divisions of
       Arts and Sciences: good policy practices for conducting searches, thinking about
       the roles of diversity/understanding of dynamics of power in the curriculum, etc.
       are not unique to the natural sciences. Much of this practice described below has
       been underway for some time; this is an opportunity to make this work more
       visible. [ongoing]

   •   Emphasizing that all departments in arts and sciences have a system of student
       major representatives, and solicitation of student input is a standard part of all
       faculty search processes. This includes (but is not limited to) student informal
       interaction with candidates (at a lunch or a special session) and student attendance
       and feedback from candidate talks. This information is used by departments in
       their decision-making process, and it is shared with the dean and college faculty
       council before a decision on a final candidate is made. We will work to
       strengthen this system, identifying places where departments are not soliciting
       student input and participation, and making appropriate corrections. [beginning
       now and ongoing]

   •   Working to change faculty allocation and search practices in all departments for
       the past two years; new procedures were rolled out by the College Faculty
       Council (CFC) and the Educational Plans and Policies Committee (EPPC) in
       September 2012, asking departments to consult with the Associate Dean for
       Academic Diversity at the time of proposing a tenure-track position and at the
       time of developing a job description for the tenure-track position. EPPC and CFC
       take a department’s strategy with respect to diversity concerns into account when
       allocating positions and authorizing job descriptions. In this first academic year
       with new procedures in place, there were 7 tenure-track faculty hired in arts and
       sciences this year; 3 are people of color (2 in the natural sciences); 4 are women,
       including 2 women in the natural sciences, where women are historically
       underrepresented. As with all policies and procedures, this will continue to be
       under review, with best practices at other institutions under examination in order
       to adopt methods that have been shown to be successful elsewhere. [ongoing]

   •   Working beyond tenure-track searching, the College for several years has been
       (and will continue to be) an active participant in the Consortium for Diversity at
       Liberal Arts Colleges (CFD). The CFD program brings one scholar to campus
       each year (in any discipline) who is dedicated to enhance the diversity of the
       institution. This program gives the fellow valuable teaching experience (as well
       as research time and research support) to a freshly-graduated PhD, introducing
       what life is like in the liberal arts college environment; the college can gain
    experience in defining positions and expanding pools of candidates, often in
    departments where tenure-track searches are anticipated in subsequent years.

•   Continuing the “Diversity Grants” program for departments, programs, and
    individual faculty initiated two years ago by Arts and Sciences. This program
    makes funding available for faculty to enhance content on topics of diversity in
    the curriculum, bring speakers to campus (for example, from diverse groups,
    especially in departments that have not had such a program before), or workshops
    to help faculty make courses more broadly accessible to all students. We plan to
    continue this program – recent grants have included support for a workshop for
    faculty on introducing environmental justice content in courses throughout the
    curriculum (including both Environmental Studies and Comparative American
    Studies); and seed funding that led to the creation of the OWLS program in the
    natural sciences. This gives a way to encourage and support innovation in the
    curriculum on topics of diversity. [ongoing]

•   Highlighting the work of the Center for Learning, Education and Research in the
    sciences (CLEAR). This year, the college received funding support to create
    CLEAR; the goals of clear are to support faculty in developing interdisciplinary
    courses or modifying existing courses; supporting student learning in quantitative
    subjects across the curriculum, including support and expansion of the OWLS
    program and the development of a drop-in “quantitative learning center”(to open
    in September 2013); and expansion and improved infrastructure of student
    research opportunities in the sciences, including summer research. We hired a
    director of the center, Marcelo Vinces, who began his position at the beginning of
    March. One of the functions of CLEAR will be to sponsor workshops for faculty
    as well as provide support and funding for revision of courses. Planning is
    underway for a series of workshops on questions of diversity in the sciences,
    including interdisciplinary content and contextualization of courses and strategies
    to make courses more inclusive/welcoming to all students. [workshops to be
    launched during 2013-14 academic year]

•   The working group document calls for efforts to make the science center feel
    accessible and open to all students, as well as provide additional social interaction
    time between faculty and students. This Spring, CLEAR held the first (of what
    we hope to be a twice a year event) in the sciences; a “lab crawl,” aimed at
    opening the doors of the science research labs to all students, for tours and
    information sessions as well as socializing with faculty and students. The next
    event will be in the Fall. [launched spring 2013 semester and continuing]

•   Continuing our long-term strategy to improve academic performance, not just in
    the sciences, but across campus. This includes making concrete changes in policy
    (for example, changes in search procedures and forms, which can then be
    evaluated for accountability); putting resources into place that support faculty in
    the revision of courses (such as the diversity grants and the CLEAR center
       activities); and deploying resources to support student learning in the sciences,
       making sure that pathways to student success are open to all students who want to
       study science. All policies and procedures are subject to regular review,
       evaluation, and modification. [ongoing]

Athletics Working Group

   •   Collaborating with Development and the Division of Student Life to provide a
       full-service fitness location on south campus. [projected completion fall
       semester 2013]

   •   Working with the Division of Student Life and students on a themed hall/s with a
       health and wellness focus on south campus - can build on discussions with
       students from last semester. [to be finished/available fall semester 2014]

   •   Working to make restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities more gender
       inclusive. [projected completion fall semester 2013]

   •   Working to increase participation of coaches and athletics staff in social justice
       events as well and relevant trainings/workshops and other educational
       opportunities. [ongoing; beginning immediately]

   •   Collaborating with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) to create an
       official seat for a Social Justice Advocate alongside the other officer roles of Co-
       Chairs, Initiative Officer, PR Officer, Treasurer, Communications Officer and
       Secretary. [implementation fall semester 2013]

   •   Working closely with the Dean of Studies Office to eliminate as many conflicts as
       possible with orientation schedule. [beginning immediately for orientation fall
       2013 and beyond]

   •   Establishing plan for better communication on what we have accomplished and
       plan to accomplish through messages on goyeo.com, department social media
       outlets, etc. [ongoing; beginning immediately]

Documentation and Communication Working Group

   •   Working with ResEd to create a system whereby selected RAs will serve as a
       student advisory board for incident response communications. Training for this
       advisory board will be included in general RA training. [to be included in fall
       2013 RA training]

   •   Launching a website by fall semester that will serve as a consolidated source of
       information relative to incidents on campus. [online fall semester 2013]
   •   Ensuring that the website will also provide clarity on the use of push-notifications
       (email, text, yellow S&S sheets, etc.) as defined by the incident response working
       group formed in 2011. Prior to launch, we will review the communications
       protocols created by the incident response working group and update as
       necessary. [online fall semester 2013]

   •   Creating an FAQ section that will provide clarity on various related issues (the
       three requests were Clery act information, mental health resources and peer to
       peer support groups, and the use of resources – or overcoming fear of use – when
       intoxicated). [online fall semester 2013]

   •   Evaluating and enhancing incident response communications with alumni,
       parents, faculty, and staff in addition to the student community, and aiming to
       improve them wherever possible. [ongoing; beginning immediately]

   •   Establishing a system to encourage students to register their cell phone for the text
       alert system. [fall semester 2013]

   •   Striving to be as transparent as possible in our communications while respecting
       individual privacy issues of students. [always]

Trainings, Workshops, and Curriculum Working Group

   •   Revising new student orientation including mandatory orientation programs like
       Many Voices - discussions already underway led by the MRC and ResEd.
       [beginning immediately for orientation fall 2013 and beyond]

   •   Extending discussions of social justice and allyship during new student
       orientation into the fall semester. [beginning immediately for orientation fall
       2013 and beyond]

   •   Including discussions of social justice and allyship in multiple required sessions
       of new faculty orientation. [beginning immediately for orientation fall 2013
       and beyond]

   •   Enhancing the MRC budget over the next several fiscal years starting in 2013-
       2014 to increase support for workshops and related programs. [to be
       implemented during 2013-14 academic year]

   •   Sharing and discussing with students ongoing as well as identifying new efforts
       related to staff diversity (recruitment and retention) and the building of social
       justice capacity among faculty and staff in each division. [ongoing; beginning

   •   Supporting a pilot SJI for College and Conservatory faculty and staff, sponsored
       by OCDC and YB. [scheduled for January 2014]
Some of the proposals raised by the working groups such as curricular changes address
long-term policies and planning on diversity and inclusion within the institution. The
Committee on Equity and Diversity, composed of faculty (from both divisions) and
students, has begun an assessment of past initiatives on diversity by the campus as well
as current practices and policies.

The first step of this has been a broad inquiry to all divisions of the institution for
information on practices and policies related to equity and diversity. These policies and
practices will be compiled, and from this process specific recommendations on a
sustained process of planning, evaluation, and reporting on institution-wide policies and
practices will be produced.

This effort is being led by Equity and Diversity co-chairs Prof. Meredith Raimondo and
Prof. Pablo Mitchell and should be another way to further the longer term proposals of
the student working groups especially related to faculty and staff recruitment and
curricular change. We look forward to that process and our ability to work together
moving forward.

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