MCCL Annual Report 2005-2006

Committee Members

  • Bruce Arnold
  • Kris Bergbom
  • Dina Bevivino
  • Lee Bowie
  • Liz Braun (spring 2006)
  • Rene Davis (fall 2005)
  • Owen Ellard
  • Mufaro Kanyangarara ‘07
  • Julia Koch ‘06
  • Amy Martin (fall 2005)
  • Jillian McLeod
  • Veronica Ochoa ‘08
  • Becky Packard (spring 2006)
  • Lauret Savoy

The “Report of the Presidential Commission on Diverse Community,” which was released in September 2005, located “oversight” of its agenda in the MCCL. This agenda aims to strengthen the College’s diversity and inclusiveness--our ability to bring our diverse population together constructively, and engage diverse perspectives in support of all of our education.

The MCCL took as its primary work this year:

  1. the review of implementation efforts by the College,
  2. development of a web presence for communicating “diversity” work (and concerns),
  3. review and funding of proposals submitted to the Inclusive Initiatives Fund (fall and spring), and
  4. pulse-taking of responses to the DCC report recommendations and college action.

The committee held open-forum sessions with members of student cultural and other organizations (APAU, ADAPT, AIR, AASIA, EAC, FPSA, La Unidad, SGA, White Privilege Awareness Project), and worked with the FCC to frame faculty meeting questions on advising and the multicultural course requirement, both of which were concerns raised by many students. The committee also had individual conversations with, and received reports from, top administration (Dean of Faculty, Dean of the College, Vice President for Finance and Administration, Vice President for Development, Vice President for Enrollment and College Relations, and the President) and the Academic Deans to learn of existing work and proposed plans in each division to meet the DCC report recommendations, and to identify how the committee might serve as a resource or communication conduit.

Areas of Progress (requiring continuing attention)

  • Creation of the positions of Director of Academic Development, Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs, and a new hire as Director of Diversity and Inclusion/Ombudsperson. Together these positions are crucial to any broad, organic engagement of the college community, but can’t be successful without continued commitment as each position grows and evolves.
  • Other hires for new positions, including Adriana DiPasquale (clinician in Counseling Service) and Annie Rodriguez (Five College Outreach and Diversity Coordinator).
  • Academic deans’ increased awareness of the need for students in their first two years to have a “team” of mentors/advisors; faculty advising video.
  • Initial efforts in the sciences on curriculum, pedagogy, advising, and mentoring (in part sparked by the faculty seminar series last year led by the Director of Academic Development).
  • Pilot summer cascading mentorship program for incoming first-year students of color with science interests.
  • Multicultural Student Forum (convened last fall by the Director of Academic Development, continued this semester by the Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs and MCCL member Kris Bergbom).
  • Increased campus dialogue (e.g., Carrie Gibson performances and talk-back, Day of Listening, Intergroup Dialogue, faculty meeting questions on advising and multicultural course requirement).
  • Growing attention to hiring practices in order to increase competitive, diverse pools.
  • Anti-bias workshops (e.g., by Dean of the College, Enrollment division, Facilities Management, Communications).
  • Continuing efforts by some offices to embed DCC report goals into work practices (e.g., LITS, Financial and Administrative Services).
  • Past pedagogy workshops at the Weissman Center, and attempts to move to smaller classes.
  • Redesign of parts of Groves Health Center (for counseling and health services) with a multicultural eye, and initial physical improvements to some cultural houses.
  • Inclusiveness Initiatives Fund support of Eliot House “Circles of Change” program, re-launch of Intergroup Dialogue, Islamic Film Festival, and other initiatives to be reviewed this spring.
  • More attention to cultural heritage months as collaborative community celebrations.

Challenges and MCCL Recommendations to the President and College

The goal of becoming a “diverse community” and steps to reach it are fragile, especially if not embedded into institutional structure and climate. There needs to be heightened visibility of commitment and expectation, agenda and progress, as well as more opportunities for dialogue. Communication across divisions, across student-staff-faculty boundaries, is fragmented. Gaps exist between the College’s work and stated goals and the lived experience of many students, especially students of color and students with limited financial means who may feel disenfranchised, disconnected, and unheard.

  • Increase administrative staff attention to student, staff, and faculty of color retention and satisfaction (rather than just increased numbers on campus). Develop ongoing measures of health to assess how students and employees perceive the quality of their experience (by Dean of Faculty, Dean of the College, Human Resources and office managers).
  • Strengthen point-of-entry education (orientation) and in-service education for students, staff, and faculty around issues of anti-racism, cultural sensitivity, classism, and the fulfillment of the college mission statement as a living community commitment.
  • Urge the Dean of Faculty office to emphasize these issues in new department chairs training, and to call on existing department chairs to take leadership roles. (For new faculty, there should be attention given to cultural competencies in teaching, mentoring, and advising. For existing staff and faculty, there should be an atmosphere of expectation for all.)
  • In addition to re-establishing New Staff Orientation, urge Human Resources to include work contributing to diversity and inclusion goals as part of the criteria for performance reviews and annual goal setting.
  • Provide continuing learning opportunities for faculty (especially for supporting and valuing the work of those engaged in these efforts, and for influencing those not yet engaged).
  • Continue to push for improvements in academic advising that attend carefully to the needs of students of color and other marginalized students. How can multiple routes of “advising teams” better help students in need? Identify measures of advising accountability for both pre-tenured and tenured faculty.
  • Strengthen institution-wide commitment to providing opportunities for those students who traditionally haven’t had access by supporting and protecting programs such as WEED.
  • Consider adding anti-bias wording in the honor code and faculty legislation.
  • Develop a continuing high-profile presidential lecture series with visiting speakers on issues of power, oppression, privilege, class and “race” (each semester).
  • Increase intentional evaluations of hiring practices for faculty and staff with respect to recruitment of persons of color.
  • Urge division heads to remain actively engaged in the improvements and initiatives of the DCC report both in annual planning and reviews of work done.
  • Increase community attention, education, and activism around issues of classism at MHC.
  • Assist working class and first-generation students with financial needs by 1) researching potential funds for them (to defray costs of applications, etc.), 2) rethinking the practice of penalizing them by restricting registration (for financial holds), and 3) better publicizing financial assistance.
  • Enhance and improve the communication of commitments, resources, and progress via the college website, other college media, and college-wide programming.
  • Increase outreach to and recruitment of students of color.
  • Review recruitment efforts for Native American students, with goal of increasing their population.
  • Increase focus on issues pertaining to the staff community, especially effective ways of including and representing their voices in the college community.
  • Continue to support college-wide cultural programming (e.g., heritage months), work to attract and involve more staff, and develop more venues for dialogue.
  • Support and enhance Passages (by strengthening present system, investigating working models at other schools, and exploring effects of Passages on participants).
  • Expand the faculty around the following areas to include more of the diasporas of each: African American Studies, Latin American Studies, Asian American Studies, Native American Studies.
  • Support the coordination of efforts to improve the accessibility of classrooms and buildings in order to meet the needs of students differently abled.
  • Provide education to faculty on universal design and its place in teaching.
  • Develop a means of collecting annual progress reports and/or evaluative data from each campus division regarding implementation of the DCC report recommendations so that we encourage ongoing commitment and remain aware of areas of strengths and challenges.
  • Push for curricular evaluation and reform that prioritizes the importance of an overall climate of achievement for all.
    • encourage APC review of the Multicultural Requirement (including updating the legislative language of the requirement to eliminate the phrase "non-white");
    • increase support of the Office of Academic Development;
    • encourage more first-year seminars addressing issues of racism, oppression, power, and privilege.
  • Continue to inspire, support, and encourage all members of the community to see this work as their own, individually and collectively--from the President's Office, through each campus department and division, and on to each student.

Future MCCL Agenda

  • Continue to develop the inclusive/multicultural community web presence. This is one part of the effort to facilitate communication among members of campus. Key is informing students, staff, and faculty of the work (progress and agenda), and building an iterative process of feedback.
  • Continue to have check-in or update conversations each year with the President and different members of senior staff.
  • Follow up with Staff Council and reach out to bargaining staff.
  • Develop “Is This Who We Are?” poster campaign with testimonies (to make known, and engage dialogue on, the stories and voices not heard).
  • Set up joint subcommittee of MCCL and APC to
    1) review multicultural course requirement in relation to the goals of the DCC report, and
    2) work to develop a version of Intergroup Dialogue as a for-credit course.
  • Review and revise the Inclusiveness Innovation Fund process; identify a subcommittee as a proposal review group.
  • Research college resources available to working class students, and rethink practice of penalizing them by restricting registration (for financial holds).
  • Work with the Director of Academic Development, Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs, and Director of Diversity and Inclusion/Ombudsperson on coordinated initiatives.
  • Assist in developing a high-profile Presidential lecture series.
  • Develop more effective ways of communicating with staff.
  • Hold a campus-wide open forum each year.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the Multicultural Community and College Life Committee (MCCL),

Lauret E. Savoy