By Shannon Sigafoos
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council, which is responsible for generating campus-wide initiatives and collaborative programming as well as bringing people together to help build a more inclusive campus community, held its first bi-weekly open meeting of the year in January. Council members shared updates on DEI initiatives and invited participants to share thoughts, ideas, and concerns on moving the College to be a more welcoming and inclusive campus.
Council members noted the College’s membership in the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance organized by USC. This will provide the Lafayette community with access to a vast number of online resources on promoting racial equity in higher education. It also will give opportunities for up to eight faculty and staff (on a rotating basis) to attend e-convenings on a variety of topics, such as faculty and staff hiring and retention and leading productive conversations about racism.
The council shared that the senior administration is engaged in efforts to strengthen intercultural sensitivity. Members of the President’s Cabinet recently participated in a workshop to assess where they are and how they can advance in terms of intercultural development. Several divisions also are engaged in similar assessment and competency-building activities.
“It’s a really important time for us to reflect on ourselves and recognize that we have work to do. Each of us needs to work on ourselves to actually bring about that change,” shared Jamila Bookwala, DEI Council chair and dean of the faculty.
The council has requested DEI plans, goals, and outcomes from each division head on campus specific to that division’s mission and role at the College. For example, one of the academic division’s goals is to work with faculty on changes to the curriculum that can ensure that students learn about topics such as racism and anti-blackness, racial equality and social justice, and privilege and bias. Such changes are intended for both the Common Course of Study and the curriculum for academic programs.
“Where are there gaps and opportunities? How can we further enhance our curriculum? How can we be a campus that is welcoming and inclusive of all?” asks Bookwala. “There’s a lot of work that’s happening in this regard and much more to be done. And it depends just as much on structural change as micro behaviors of inclusion: how we relate to one another in our offices, our departments on campus, in the hallways, and in our residence halls.”
DEIC holds open meetings every other Wednesday at 1 p.m. This semester, each open meeting will focus on a different topic facilitated by a member of our community. The topic scheduled for Feb. 10 is allyship and will be facilitated by Grayson Thomson. Other topics planned for this spring include religious and spiritual inclusion, pronouns, accessibility, and microaggressions. No RSVP is necessary. Information can be found in Lafayette Today and on the College’s events calendar.