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SUBJECT: 

An Open Letter

Recipients:

President's office <president@lclark.edu>, David Ellis <dgellis@lclark.edu>, Jane Atkinson <atkinson@lclark.edu>, <info@rimrockcapital.com>, Dean of CAS <casdean@lclark.edu>, Explore LC <explorelc@lclark.edu>, Therese Augst <taugst@lclark.edu>, Greta Binford <binford@lclark.edu>, Peter Drake <ddrake@lclark.edu>, Jim Grant <grant@lclark.edu>, Karen Gross <kegross@lclark.edu>, Jennifer LaBounty <labounty@lclark.edu>, James Proctor <jproctor@lclark.edu>, E&D Chair <explore@lclark.edu>

Email Body:

An Open Letter to

Barry Glassner, David Ellis, Jane Atkinson, Scott Dubchansky, Catherine Kodat, Maureen Healy and the Curriculum Committee Members

 

We commend Lewis & Clark for working to promote diversity and discussions about race and identity. Recent efforts to make improvements in this area, such as the session on personal identity and incorporating the Social Justice Tour within the Pioneer Success Institute program for first-year students, and the Passport to Leadership through the Dean of Students Office, are initiatives which we greatly appreciate that bring issues of race and diversity to the forefront of students’ awareness. We also support the Intergroup Dialogues with faculty and staff that the Department of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement has launched Fall semester of 2014, as well as the Inclusive Pedagogy retreat for staff and faculty. The institution-wide committee focused on diversity is an important and valuable initiative as well. Additionally, the Yik Yak incident this year was handled in a direct and immediate way that many students appreciated as an improvement. Calling the Portland Police and providing affected students with counseling support was an important step in taking these threats seriously. These initiatives show that our school is working in the right direction. We would like to take these positive actions a step further.

Despite these important initiatives implemented by the college, we see a lack of widely-engaged dialogue about diversity and cultural awareness in our community. The national state of affairs, in terms of racial discrimination and violence, is not something that the Lewis & Clark community is exempt from. From the viewpoint of people of color and accomplices involved in this initiative, much of our community lacks the necessary tools to discuss racial discrimination. As a result, members of our community feel unsafe, excluded, and silenced. We want to work together to create a community that strives to listen to all voices, to discuss the real issues of our world, and to foster a welcoming space for all people, regardless of race, gender, class, religious orientation, or sexuality. We want to help strengthen our college’s commitment to its mission. Our college’s mission statement says: “The mission of Lewis & Clark is to know the traditions of the liberal arts, to test their boundaries through ongoing exploration...The institution pursues the aims of all liberal learning: to seek knowledge for its own sake and to prepare for civic leadership.” It goes on to discuss our core themes as an institution:

  • “We are a community that integrates theory and practice within the overall educational experience.

  • We are a community that commits itself to diversity and sustainability as dimensions of a just society.

  • We are a community that cultivates leadership and engagement in a complex and interdependent world.”

In theory, Lewis & Clark promotes these goals of testing the boundaries of tradition, and yet in practice, our institution needs improvement in this area, specifically around promoting cultural awareness and diversity. As members of the Lewis & Clark community, we yearn for exposure to different perspectives, which is only possible in a space that fosters diversity and diverse perspectives. Administrators, staff, faculty, and students must be able to effectively address issues revolving around race and identity in order to create a place that challenges old perspectives and is truly welcoming to people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. In order for Lewis & Clark’s students to become civic leaders, culturally aware and racially conscious, Lewis & Clark must integrate these elements into the curriculum.

We would like to see Lewis & Clark make diversity and inclusion more of a priority. In order to stand by the institution’s stated values and goals, we believe that in addition to aforementioned initiatives, Lewis and Clark should work to institute the following proposals into practice:

Institutionalizing Diversity

Hiring

  • Hire a full-time Diversity and Equity Officer who reports directly to the President

    • Responsibilities:

      • Create a strategic plan for the institution that values diversity as a priority

      • Institute cultural sensitivity training for all departments

      • Actively recruit faculty and staff of color

    • Comparable positions at Whitman College and Lewis & Clark Law School

      • Law School: J.B. Kim is Assistant Dean, Diversity & Academic Resources

      • Whitman: Lisa Perfetti, Associate Dean for Faculty Development

      • http://www.whitman.edu/offices-and-services/provost

    • Create a committee with slots for students of color, faculty of color, and students and faculty from underrepresented communities within the hiring process

Professional Development

  • The Department of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement is already working to enhance professional development within the faculty and staff with Intergroup Dialogues

  • Intergroup Dialogues: 1 hour a week for 8 weeks with homework in between to talk about race

    • Diversity and Equity Officer may take on this program, but in the mean time:

      • What resources are needed to expand this program to all faculty?

      • Ideally, a faculty-member would co-facilitate the dialogue

        • Needs about a semester of training

        • 8-10 hours of work time needed to prepare the dialogues

        • IME supports expansion of resources for Intergroup Dialogues

  • The History Department should encompass the diverse populations of the world. Yet, this department currently lacks specialization in African history and American Indian history.

    • Develop a hiring plan to rectify these deficits by the end of the Spring 2016 semester

    • Highly supported by Ethnic Studies Department

  • Further, the national search currently underway for 5 new tenure-track hires must prioritize the fact that our undergraduate school has just 2.4% Black tenure and tenure track faculty, just three Latinx tenure or tenure track faculty, and no American Indian tenure or tenure track faculty. It is imperative that faculty of color have a presence on campus for students of color to feel supported on campus.

    • The Office of the Dean of the College should identify a percentage of the faculty to be filled by candidates of color that will be met within time frames of two years, five years, and ten years.

Integrating Diversity in Already-Existing Programs

  • Curriculum Committee: Implement a category to evaluate multiculturalism and diverse perspectives during the audits for each major/minor department that occurs every 2 years

    • For example, ask for each course and professor: What are you and your department doing to promote diverse perspectives, cultural awareness, and inclusion?

    • What perspective (race, gender, class, sexuality) are most of your course materials coming from?

    • Are you and your department offering courses and coursework that highlight and study the voices and experiences of people from all backgrounds?

  • Additionally, student input should have a greater presence in the committee decision

  • Create a mandatory, yearly evaluation survey for administrators in all departments by the end of the Spring 2016 semester

    • What are you and your department doing to promote diverse perspectives, cultural awareness, and inclusion?

    • Ask each employee to set concrete goals for making diversity and cultural awareness a priority at the beginning of the year, and revisit them at the end of the year with supervisor to assess progress

  • Add a multicultural and inclusion aspect to the course evaluation administered at the end of each semester by the end of the Spring 2016 semester

    • Add questions to the evaluation

    • Feedback on Course: “To what extent did you learn about new perspectives and increase your cultural awareness by taking the course?”

    • Feedback on Professor: “How did this professor include diversity in the classroom?”

  • Work with Dean of Students, Anna Gonzalez, and Department of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement to create more incentives for not just students, but also staff and faculty, to attend diversity and social justice events.

    • Create incentives similar to Passport for Leadership that exists for undergraduate students, or expand it to include faculty and staff

    • Expand Inclusive Pedagogy program beyond one day

 

Sincerely,

The Students of Lewis & Clark College