BOOM Learning Conference FAQ

Boom Learning Conference logo

March 26–27, 2017

Our diversity shines brightest when we bring our full selves together as one community. BOOM: Building On Our Momentum is a moment where we can come together as one community to think deeply and collectively about how we engage with one another. We’ve planned a multi-faceted, two-day event that will bring students, faculty and staff together to experience and engage around the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion. The event will feature keynote speakers, poster sessions, smaller panels and presentations, film screenings and interactive activities, as well as ways to collect feedback as we move throughout the day.

General Questions

What is the learning conference?

The learning conference is only the first step in engaging the full community in the diversity, equity and inclusion (D.E.I.) initiative. Building on our Momentum is a catalytic moment. It is a day for the entire campus to come together — to teach and to learn from each other. This shift begins with a day dedicated to answering a single question: How do we move from being a “diverse campus” to being a fully engaged campus community that is diverse, equitable and inclusive? The structure for this initiative was designed by the Collaborations Group, and we are adapting this model to be responsive to the challenges and opportunities unique to our campus.

Why is so much time required to participate?

The learning conference, and the larger diversity initiative, reflects the various recommendations coming out of the strategic plan working groups. To be successful, we must engage our full community in building awareness, aligning the work already happening within various pockets of energy and creating moments where we can learn together how to embrace difference inside and outside of the classroom. The model we are using to plan this conference allows anyone within the community to raise their hand to participate, facilitate and affect change. The skill-building training and planning sessions we hosted in February and earlier this month brought together a broad representation of the members of our community, some experts and some newcomers; we are trying to move away from tapping (and sometimes overtaxing) the same individuals who often support this work not because it is their job, but because it is their passion.

What will the conference look like?

The sessions have been curated from within our community, for our community. Each session will be a learning moment and a feedback opportunity. We anticipate that the conference will start about 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 26, and end Monday evening, March 27. The sessions will include facilitated workshops, panel presentations, interactive activities, poster sessions, table-top conversations and celebratory moments. Community members can join in sessions of their choice with opportunities to come together in cross-constituent groups (i.e. faculty, staff, student groups or faculty/staff groupings) and core constituent groups (i.e. faculty-only or student-only sessions).

What will happen after the conference?

We will use what we learn about our current strengths and needs related to D.E.I., and begin to articulate our shared vision for an ideal campus community. This vision and the recommendations and feedback resulting from this day will be used to develop a plan that will move us past rhetoric to action steps that are embedded within our strategic plan. This plan will be cultivated and vetted by our community later this summer and fall.

Who is expected to participate?

All faculty, staff and students expected to participate. Mount Holyoke classes, including online courses offered through PaGE, are cancelled on Monday, March 27, and administrative offices encouraged to close. Acting President Stephens and the College’s officers expect their staffs to make attending the various sessions and/or participating in the various activities a priority. This is our collective work for the day. The steering committee for the conference will provide a universal away message that offices can use for the day.

We recognize that certain tasks must continue despite the closing of offices and the cancellation of classes. Offices and staff with these conflicts, such as campus police, should speak with their supervisors or Linda Samano in human resources to discuss effective ways in which they can participate during the day. The conference activities will offer multiple modes of participation both in person and online: We are focused on providing opportunities for all members of the community to participate no matter where they are.

Do I need to cancel vacation / appointments?

No. Faculty and staff with off-campus appointments scheduled prior to announcement of the conference should plan to meet those commitments. We are not asking for individuals to change vacation schedules, doctor’s visits and other previously scheduled time off. Similarly, students with off-campus jobs and/or Five College classes should meet those obligations. The cancellation of classes and suspension of work applies to the campus-bound efforts and online courses through PaGE to permit the entire college community the opportunity to participate.

I am part-time. Am I expected to work a full day?

The goal of the conference is to make the teaching and learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion our collective work of the day. We are asking faculty and staff to engage in the programming during their established work hours. Part-time employees are not expected to change their start and end times and we are not requiring staff to come in on days in which they do not normally work. If you would like to change your schedule to participate, please consult with your supervisor and/or Linda Samano in human resources about how best to do that.

What about student employees scheduled to work?

This is at the discretion of the student’s supervisor. If a student is normally or already scheduled to work on Monday, March 27, and you plan to close your office or don’t need them to report to work, you may still pay the student for those hours, provided that they attend the conference during that time. We’ll provide a form for supervisors and students to sign if this is the arrangement you want to make. Supervisors may instead arrange for the student to make up the hours later in the week. The goal is that student workers will not lose (but also not gain) wages because of the conference.

Will the library be open? Kendall?

The library will be open for normal hours on Sunday, March 26, but closed on Monday, March 27. Kendall will be open for normal hours on Sunday, March 26, but open for limited hours from 6:30–9 a.m on Monday, March 27. Normal hours will resume for both on Tuesday, March 28.

What about meals?

Visit the meal service page.

Who do I contact with more questions?

Contact Rene Davis or Kathleen Pertzbom, co-chairs of the D.E.I. Initiative