- Students: Kana Ariyoshi ('13); Martina Pittius ('11); Zilin Cui, Fall 2009 ('11); Chi Chen, Spring 2010 ('13)
- Staff: Kris Bergbom (Student Affairs), Winnie Rivera Vallejo (Sr. Administrative Assistant, Dean of College's Office), Catarina Costa-Wofford (Admissions); Elizabeth Cahn (Public Safety)
- Faculty: Lenore Reilly Carlisle, Co-Chair; Sarah Oelker; Roger Babb; Renae Brodie (on leave)
- Administrators: Penny Gill (Dean of the College); Elizabeth Braun (Associate Dean of the College/Dean of Students); Gladys Moore, Co-Chair (Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life & Director of Diversity and Inclusion)
The responsibilities and authority of this committee, as set out in Faculty Legislation, include: a) addressing issues chosen by the committee from among those brought to it by students, faculty and staff; b) advising the Dean of the College on activities and policies fostering an inclusive community that respects group and individual differences, and that serves the intellectual, educational and social needs of its members; c) advising and overseeing committees addressing all aspects of College life under the jurisdiction of the Dean of the College; d) reviewing, monitoring and proposing College policies to ensure that all practices at Mount Holyoke are unbiased and to provide ongoing anti-bias education throughout the institution. Faculty legislation further stipulates that the MCCL Committee (MCCLC) shall create, maintain, and work with permanent subcommittees, task forces, and ad hoc committees such as are necessary to carry out its work; that it shall meet regularly with the Trustee Committee on Student Affairs; and that it shall solicit from the College community suggestions and concerns relevant to the Committee’s charge.
Committe Activities 2009-2010
For most of the academic year, we have had a full slate of faculty, staff and students on our committee and have met regularly every other week. Our work has focused on systematically gathering feedback and data from diverse constituents on campus; seeking support for planning and implementing programs and events to address needs identified during the feedback/data collection cycle; and supporting initiatives and programming developed by students staff and faculty through the Inclusiveness Initiative Funding.
I. Gathering Data
In accordance with its legislated responsibilities, MCCL routinely gathers input from various constituencies on campus regarding how each experiences our campus climate. Our website feedback form remains open to all in the community and provides the Committee with on-going input. Over the course of the year we met with the following groups and individuals:
- Tanya Williams, Associate Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion, reporting on pre-orientation activities, Passages, changes in policies regarding Cultural houses, and updating the committee on preparations for the first contingent of Posse students arriving in the fall of 2010.
- Carol Stewart, Ombudsperson, reporting on college use of the Ombudsperson’s office and noting specific trends/data of interest to MCCL.
- Elisabeth Hogan, Associate Dean of Students/Disability Services, reporting on issues related to students with disabilities.
- Representatives from Class Action, reporting on ongoing faculty/staff workshops.
- Laura Greenfield, reporting on the work of the SAW center and supporting the needs of all students, including English Language Learners
- Jesse Lytle, updating the committee on the Presidential Transition and helping MCCL consider how best to share its priorities and the focus of its work with the new administration
- Becky Packard, reporting on the workshops she and Sarah Bacon have been organizing and facilitating regarding faculty pedagogy, advising and related issues
- Members of the Student Conference Committee, reporting on survey data highlighting students’ perceptions of inclusive campus climate with regard to racial and ethnic identity, political affiliation and socio-economic status. (Please note key findings: 40% of students surveyed disagreed or disagreed strongly that students of all political backgrounds feel welcome on campus; ableism and classism comments were on the rise; and only 22% of students felt that students of all economic backgrounds fell welcome on campus).
- Additionally, important outreach/action-oriented and collaborative work was accomplished through the vetting, funding and advising support offered to those submitting Inclusiveness Initiative Fund (IIF) Proposals.
II. Addressing Identified Needs
Based on feedback that came to the committee last year and this year, we laid the groundwork for and made progress in three key areas: 1) the need for a campus-wide assessment of the climate related to diversity; 2) the need to sustain challenging dialogues around issues of race, class, gender, and other diversity issues among all segments of the campus and to develop structures and procedures for conducting such dialogues; and 3) the need for ongoing faculty professional development.
MCCL also discussed several topics related to the Department of Public Safety during the year, including the 2009 Report of the President’s Review Panel. A number of suggestions were put forward as to how MCCL could assist in developing and supporting a more robust, continuous, and positive relationship between Public Safety and all aspects of the MHC community, including the following:
- Increased education and outreach to the campus community by Public Safety
- Use of intergroup dialogue to foster cross-group discussions about safety, enforcement, community norms, and profiling. Public Safety has several IGD facilitators on staff and is already using IGD methods for internal training on diversity.
- Creation of a standing campus committee or MCCL subcommittee to address public safety issues on a regular basis, not just when there is a complaint.
- Establishment of a regular campus-wide forum on diversity issues that would not focus on public safety, but would be available should public safety issues be raised.
III. Supporting Diversity Initiatives Through the Inclusiveness Initiatives Fund (IIF)
MCCLC continues to support initiatives that both recognize the complexities of identity and create opportunities for continuous dialogue in order to create and sustain a diverse educational community.
Initiatives MCCLC has encouraged or partially funded include: the Taboo series; Intergroup Dialogue; expanded pre-orientation offerings; the Race/Class Intersections seminars offered by Class Action; Community Conversations; disability awareness and advocacy speaker; as well as numerous other projects, programs and events.(A full list of projects supported by the Inclusiveness Initiative Fun is available on the MCCL webpage.)
Plans for 2010-2011
The MCCLC spent time this spring reviewing its original charge from faculty legislation, as well as its responsibilities summarized in the document prepared by the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion (2005) and the final report of the President’s Review Panel on the Incident of December 1, 2009. Together, these three documents outline an enormous breadth of responsibility for both assessing and improving the well-being of the college community, the quality of the functioning of many offices and programs, and the college’s progress at meeting its goals of being an inclusive and challenging college community.
We have decided this would be an appropriate moment to pause and consider how best to focus our work, re-examine what our membership should be, and determine how we might assist others to set goals and evaluate their progress towards those goals of becoming a fully inclusive community. We would like to assist the college, in its next iteration of a plan, to articulate both an institutional vision of a fully inclusive community and specific goals for various parts of the college. MCCLC would like to create periodic opportunities for assessment, and to improve communication and dialogue across our many differences.
We also note that the DCC report of 2005 is now five years old. In the near future, the college will need to analyze outcomes for its Fifth Year NEASC assessment. While we recognize fully that not all goals set forth in the DCC report have been met, progress has been made and continues to be made in several areas. Regular assessment of climate issues should be part of our cycle of continuous improvement. Progress made should be documented and celebrated, possible regressions must be identified, new areas of focus should likewise be identified, and our collective work toward becoming a fully inclusive campus should continue. We hope a campus-wide assessment will help us develop an updated diversity action plan and likewise provide the college with diversity-related outcomes data for its NEASC mid-cycle report.
We continue to field persistent and recurring requests from faculty and students to explore how the college can ensure that there is adequate opportunity for professional development of all faculty regarding teaching, learning and advising on our diverse campus. We applaud the work of professors Packard and Bacon in providing a comfortable and informal context in which faculty can engage in stimulating discussions about diversity, pedagogy, and advising. While these and other successful initiatives targeting small segments of the teaching faculty are powerful beginnings, many have suggested the need for a more comprehensive and far reaching faculty development initiative in this area. Sharing effective practices currently being implemented, exploring new pedagogical approaches, and entertaining conversations about how to institutionalize faculty development efforts in this area should be a continuing priority of the MCCLC and the college.
A Call for Involvement and Action
We have much to learn from our students: the student survey developed and administered by the SCC stands as a stellar example of how diversity climate data can be gathered, analyzed and reported efficiently. The MCCLC relies on the involvement of all segments of the campus working to foster an inclusive community that respects group and individual differences, and that serves the intellectual, educational and social needs of its members. We urge departments, in keeping with recommendations of the DCC report, to consider departmental “check-ins” linked to embedded diversity goals within their departmental reports. We continue to seek the support of the entire Mount Holyoke Community in advancing this work, whether through proposals to the Inclusiveness Initiative Fund, bringing pressing issues and difficulties to our attention, or participating in future conversations, initiatives and campus climate assessment work. Our committee looks forward to working with the campus to identify viable approaches and processes amenable to administration, faculty, staff and students.
Lenore Reilly Carlisle