Colleges address racial challenges

This week, the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center announced the launch of the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance. Mount Holyoke College is an inaugural member.

By Christian Feuerstein

This week, Mount Holyoke College became one of the inaugural member institutions of the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance. 

This is a new project of the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California. As of November 9, the Alliance had 51 member institutions. 

Racial Equity eConvening Series

Beginning in January 2021, the Race and Equality Center will host a dozen eConvenings, each on a particular aspect of racial equity. These live, synchronous professional learning experiences will be held virtually throughout the year, one per month. The learning sessions, each on a different topic, will be delivered by highly-respected leaders of national higher education associations, tenured professors who study race relations, and people of color, chief diversity officers and other experienced administrators and specialists from the Center.

The 12 eConvening sessions will focus mostly on strategies and practical approaches. These 3-hour synchronous learning experiences will be highly engaging and interactive. Instructors will use contemporary cases of equity dilemmas and racial crises on liberal arts college campuses. 

Virtual Equity Resource Portal

The Center is developing an online repository of resources and tools for Alliance member colleges. Downloadable equity-related rubrics, readings, case studies, videos, slide decks and conversation scripts will be included in the portal. Every employee across all levels at each Alliance member college will have 24/7 full access to the virtual resource portal. The portal will launch in late spring 2021.

Three Campus Climate Surveys

The Center’s National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC) has been administered to more than 500,000 students at colleges and universities in every geographic region of the United States. The NACCC is a rigorous, expert-validated quantitative survey that measures belonging and inclusion, the frequency and depth of cross-racial interactions, students’ appraisals of institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion, and other related topics.

Using the NACCC as a guide, the Center is developing a pair of workplace climate surveys for Alliance member colleges: one for staff at all levels and another for faculty. These two surveys will focus on topics like employees’ perceptions of equitable opportunities for promotion and advancement; mattering and sense of belonging; how different groups of employees differently experience the workplace environment; employees’ encounters with racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other -isms at work; employee satisfaction with the College’s responses to reports of abuse, unfair treatment, and climate problems; and appraisals of the College’s commitment to equity.

Presidents United for Racial Equity

Presidents of Alliance member colleges will meet quarterly to share strategies, seek advice and identify ways to leverage the Alliance for collective impact on racial equity in higher education. In addition, presidents will occasionally come together to craft rapid responses to urgent racial issues confronting the nation. 

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