Student Engagement

During the DCC Study of 2003-05 many students of color articulated a range of issues having to do with their sense of disconnection from “the college experience,” including the faculty and the administration; their need for better mentorship; their sense that there were too few faculty and administrators of color, especially following the recent departures of some administrators of color; their sense that few of them succeed in the sciences although many start out with the idea that they would go to medical school; their experience of stereotyping and unconscious racism; their feeling of an expectation that they must represent their cultural heritage to the community and an obligation to plan cultural events without sufficient support from the administration. The concerns were worked into the Sept. 2005 recommendations.

Student Government Association

Goal: October 2006, the Student Government Association resolved to more pro-actively "Value campus diversity and continue the initiatives set forth by the Diverse Community Commission (DCC) Report".

(Fall 2006) SGA voted to expand its role in supporting Cultural Heritage Months by prompting senator participation at the events, incorporating steady publicity support of the awareness months into Newsflush, and having an executive board member sit on each month's planning committee.  SGA Chair of Orgs, Chair of Halls, and Chair of Senate pledged to improve the recruitment and functionality of SGA Senate, with particular attention paid to inclusiveness issues.  SGA hosted a productive senate session with Catherine Adams, the new director of Multicultural Affairs. Support of Cultural Heritage Months has significantly improved. Work continues to be done to improve upon the SGA Senate and define the roles of Senators representing Halls and Organizations. The "Newsflush"  has been consistently more representative of the entire student body and is more accessible now  that it is online.  The Public Relations Officer throughout the fall and spring semesters sat on Cultural Heritage Month Committees and helped plan and publicize events. Senator attendance to cultural events was strongly encouraged at each senate meeting and all announcements of  student-run events at senate were recorded and distributed regularly to all senators.   Towards the end of the semester, the Executive Board compiled a survey to assess the makeup of Senate (the Diversity Survey).

(Spring 2007) SGA pledged to "encourage diverse representation in SGA and actively embrace multiculturalism by strengthening relationships with all constituencies."  The PR officer continued to work with cultural awareness month committees and publicize related events and awareness in Newsflush and on the SGA website.  In order to broaden representation, the Chair of Orgs encouraged more student organizations to appoint members to Senate and publicity for Organization Senator applications was greatly improved.  The Chair of Orgs worked with the Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs to compile a survey for Organization leaders to complete indicating why they do or do not opt to have a Senator represent them in SGA.  The survey will be available online and hard copies will distributed before the end of the semester.  Throughout March and April 2007, SGA explored transgender issues at MHC with Bill Boerner and Rene Davis.  The Executive Board has begun to work with the Transgender Awareness Committee on issues facing transgender students in the areas of Admissions and Residential Life.

Intergroup Dialogue

Goal: Bring back and expand upon Intergroup Dialog, and institute a cascading training program for facilitators.

(Fall 2006) Six students participated in a non-credit semester long training course to gain the necessary training and skills to become intergroup dialogue facilitators.

(Spring 2007) Trained students were paired into co-facilitation teams and have been running weekly dialogue groups.  Each group is made up of 8-12 students.  The dialogues this year have focused on race and class.  Also during the spring semester there are 6 students who have been participating in the facilitator training course to prepare to lead dialogue groups in the fall of 2008.

The program is gaining recognition and momentum in the community and current student participants speak highly of the skills they have gained and the power of the experience.  Dialogue topics, and additional information are available at Intergroup Dialogue Project.

Cultural Houses

Goal: Expand the use of Cultural Houses by streamlining the process of reserving and accessing houses, increasing their use in student-to-student relations as a site for building the value of diversity, and encouraging academic and administrative offices to use the spaces more regularly.

(2006-2007) The use of cultural houses has increased some - students gather more frequently for meetings and to cook together. The upgraded computer systems have improved upon the popularity of the spaces as places to engage in academic work and study together.  Faculty and staff have begun to utilize the houses on a more regular basis for lectures, discussion groups, and programs. Access to the houses has improved with the assistance of the Card, Cable, and Telephone office. The reservation system is still under review.

Multicultural Student Forum

Goal: The DCC report called for the formation of an adhoc ALANA advisory group to enhance communications among students of color, staff,  faculty, and administration.

(Fall 2005) The Director of Academic Development, the Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs, and a representative from MCCL convened interested students to shape a pilot program.

(Spring 2006) Students continued to meet to evolve what is now the Multicultural Student Forum (MSF).

(Spring 2007) The MSF continues to meet weekly under the co-advisorship of the Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs, and an MCCL staff representative. The group has addressed a variety of student initiated topics in an atmosphere that is part support circle, part activist oriented, and part advisory to the community. Significant advisory sessions were held with the college President and the incumbent Director of Diversity. More information is available at Multicultural Student Forum.

Heritage Month and Awareness Week

Goal: Institutionally support annual Cultural Heritage Month programming to increase the exposure to different cultures, and active engagement with multicultural learning.

(Fall of 2005) Professional staff members of the Dean of Students Office began to work with existing student cultural organization representatives to support and strengthen the planning process for the rich and varied annual Cultural Heritage Months and Awareness Weeks.  Some ongoing funding support was allocated through the Dean of Students Office, to supplement other funding that comes from sponsors collaborating all over campus.

(Spring 2007) The new collaborative model that now includes Students, Staff and Faculty on all heritage month planning committees has succeeded in richer and more successful events, enjoyed by a wider audience of our community. Ongoing success and growth with 6 annual programs. View current listings.

Student Organizations

Goal: Increase institutional support for student run cultural organizations and events.

(Fall 2006)  The SGA agenda embraced this goal (see above). The Dean of Students Office support of Cultural Heritage Months now includes dedicated funding and staffing support. The Office of Student Programs maintains a staff commitment to Cultural Heritage Months, as well as maintains web pages for each month.  Student Programs is also working on efforts to increase advising to organizations and better support them in developing successful collaborations, resource sharing, and project development.

Workshops and Dialogs

Goal: Increase and improve upon campus wide student workshops and dialog projects devoted to fostering understanding and rich engagement with a multicultural community.

(2006-2007) There was a marked increase in workshop and dialog offerings to students on a broad spectrum of topics relating to diversity and inclusiveness, including initiatives in 2007 to add focus on socio-economic diversity. Skill sharing and the promotion of dialog tools have added a degree of confidence in a fertile and respectful colleague-to-colleague learning environment. Some projects offered include: Intergroup Dialogue. Day of Listening Project. Taboo: Drop-in Dialog Series. Breaking the  Silence Project. Making Class Visible. The ADAC Journey Through the Maze Project. Women of Color Support Group.

Peer to Peer

Goal: Enhance the role that student-to-student relations play in mentoring new students on the value of a diverse academic and social community, through the SGA, student organizations, and  student organization coalitions. 

(Spring 2007) Projects are underway with the two pre-orientation and the general orientation programs for enhanced orientation leader training,  and collaborative planning on themes of multicultural campus life. A newly launched pre-orientation blog encourages prospective students to discuss life in the multicutural Mount Holyoke College Community.  The SGA and Student Programs have worked together to implement a "Healthy Transitions" workshop that includes training to upper class students on how to reach out across cultural differences to new students and strengthen their organizational membership with increased diversity.

International Engagement

Goal: Create a hospitable environment that builds the value of our diversity, and fosters a globally inclusive

(2005) The McCullough Center for Global Initiatives added 16 international channels to student cable TV packages.

(Spring 2006) Women’s colleges from around the world gathered at Dubai Women’s College in the United Arab Emirates, January 4-6, 2006, for the second Women’s Education Worldwide conference to discuss the many commonalities they share in promoting the education of women around the globe and preparing women for leadership roles in science, government, business, and politics.  Four Mount Holyoke students traveled to Dubai Dec. 28-Jan. 6 to run a leadership-training workshop at the Dubai Women's College, which received a grant from the U.S. State Department's Middle East Partnership Initiative to finance the event.  The students wrote a blog entitled "Dubai Diaries" to document their experiences.

(June 2006) The heads of 29 foremost women’s colleges and universities from five continents gathered in Western Massachusetts in June at a conference titled “Women’s Education Worldwide 2004: The Unfinished Agenda.” Presidents and academic deans vowed to increase collaboration in their essential mission of preparing women for leadership roles. The conference was co-sponsored by Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges.