Diversity and Equity Standing Committee
Much of our work over the past few years has focused on the racial climate in the classroom. This focus has been appropriate. It reflects the centrality of the classroom experience in the life of the college and it reflects the animating impact of race, both historically and currently, in any dialogue about diversity. As our work moves forward, it is important that we give due consideration to the full range of diversity issues reflected in our mission statement. It is also important that we give attention to the climate experienced by staff and faculty as well as students. As I reflect on our work so far, I want the advice of a Disappearing Task Force to address three challenges.
Sustaining our efforts. Real improvements in campus climate require deep understanding and sustained effort. Over the past few years, we have maintained an intense focus on a critical campus issue - the racial climate in the classroom. Much of what we have accomplished has been due to the efforts of committed individuals who, sooner or later, will want to move on to other projects, retire, or just take a break. It is important that Evergreen, as an institution, be prepared to carry on this work. We need a plan that will help us institutionalize positive changes and help ensure that we carry on this work in the years ahead.
Coordinating and planning our efforts. Much of our recent work has reflected a de- centralized, grass roots approach that has demonstrated broad support and commitment to improving our campus practices. We need to ensure that our limited resources are applied where they are most needed, that our efforts are not needlessly duplicated, and that our efforts are coordinated in a way that can lead to lasting institutional improvements. It is also important that the roles of the offices and individuals who are doing this work are clear to all.
Gaining a broader, deeper view of the college. In the long run, our ability to become the college that we aspire to be depends on achieving a clear and comprehensive view of both our strengths and shortcomings. Our goals must be to ensure that, as our work continues, our efforts address the full complexity of diversity and college systems. There is a risk that the very intensity of our focus in one area may prevent us from recognizing another area in greater need of attention.
I am establishing this diverse, broad-based standing committee to ensure that diversity and equity remain vital components of the college's strategic plan. This group will chart the course for implementation of the college's strategic plan. This course will need to be inclusive, engendering responsibility and accountability for this work across all decisions and the best practices available to us; and innovative, moving the college beyond our past practices and business as usual, and closer to the goal of providing a positive learning and working environment for students, faculty and staff of every race, ethnicity, national origin, socioeconomic class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, (dis)ability and age.
For the first year, the committee's emphasis will be to:
- Engage college leadership and constituencies in a college-wide vision of diversity and equity at Evergreen, based on the college mission and strategic plan. This should provide for the ongoing involvement and input of the under-represented groups who are an important focus of this work; and establish structures to coordinate and periodically exchange information about each division's work on the diversity and equity components of the strategic plan.
- Propose a framework for the collection of quantitative and qualitative data appropriately disaggregated. By race/ethnicity, sex, income status and other factors they deem important; and develop and implement a plan for data analysis. This will involve familiarizing themselves with the extensive data already being collected, determining what can and should be monitored to provide a more comprehensive and informative picture of the college's diverse learning community ; and establishing benchmarks the college will use to evaluate the results of our efforts. Attention should be given to issues of access and success for traditionally underrepresented groups and the degree to which all students are realizing our aspiration of learning across significant differences.
- Interact with the other groups at Evergreen working in areas identified in the report. These would include the President's Diversity Fund Committee, those working implement the Center for Community Matters, the Faculty Institutes that met over the summer, and others.
- Using diversity, equity and student learning as their lenses, develop an annual report that includes an analysis of the data collected, an assessment of the progress made on specific action plans, and guidance about specific areas for focus in the following years.
Process and Timeline
The DTF should:
- hold a forum for representatives of college departments and constituencies to discuss the committee's work and to engage them in the development of department-specific benchmarks and goals associated with the College strategic plan for diversity;
- develop and implement a strategy for ongoing communication and engagement of the College Leadership and community;
- select a data framework;
- prepare an initial report to the college community for discussion in the Fall quarter using the selected data framework and benchmarks. The report should:
- offer a preliminary analysis of existing data that establishes a base-line from which the college community and its different divisions and constituencies will be able to evaluate the results of future efforts;
- identify any additional data to be collected;
- summarize the goals and specific actions being undertaken by departments across the college;
- identify the work ahead.