Update on Campus Diversity Initiatives

Posted November 20th, 2014 at 2:25 pm.

The following email was sent to faculty, students, and staff by President Kim Cassidy on Tuesday, November 18.

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

At the end of September I wrote to you to share our plans to bring new attention to issues of race, racism, diversity, and inclusion at Bryn Mawr.  Since that time many people across campus have been working hard to achieve this goal—some through new initiatives and others by sustaining successful existing programs.  I am impressed by the range of work underway, and want to share an update with you.  The following list is not exhaustive, of course.  I also want to acknowledge the many meaningful conversations that are taking place in small group settings in which members of the community are sharing different personal histories and cultural understandings of race.  Such conversations model the exchange and learning we seek to foster across campus.

New Initiatives
As was announced last week by email, the Dean’s Office has organized a teach-in on race today, 11/18, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in Thomas Great Hall.  Members of the community will speak about the history of race at BMC, race and higher education, the current repercussions of the Confederate flag in U.S. society, free speech, and well-being and accountability in a diverse community.

Community education is a core element of making Bryn Mawr an inclusive community.   In addition to programs that will be held for individual offices, we will set aside a day in the spring semester in which classes will be cancelled and the entire community will be invited to participate in a day of learning and working together to help us engage issues of how race shapes our lives and community and equally to help us build our skills for living in an intentionally diverse community.  Students, faculty, or staff who are interested in being involved with planning the program should contact Ruth Lindeborg (rlindebo@brynmawr.edu) in the President’s Office to indicate their interest.

The Student Curriculum Committee is partnering with the Dean’s Office and the Faculty Curriculum Committee to explore models for enhanced diversity education that range from non-credit co-curricular programming to for-credit curricular coursework.

As I announced last week, we have formed a Bias Working Response Group to clarify and improve our institutional mechanisms for responding to bias or hate incidents on campus.

Mary Osirim, Interim Provost and Professor of Sociology, convened a group of faculty and staff of color who will host a “Welcome to Second Semester” reception for students, faculty, and staff of color in January.  Those attending the reception will talk about creating a new informal mentoring program that would provide students with a source of support and advice.  Please keep an eye out for an announcement as we return from winter break.

Relaunching Perry House committee, comprised of 21 students, faculty, staff, and alumnae, met at the end of October.  Subcommittees have begun working on policy, programming, communications, and interior design, with plans to reach out to the wider BMC community. Updates will be posted on the Pensby Center website.

Monica Mercado, director of the Greenfield Center for the History of Women in Education, and a student are working to create a special campus tour focusing on the history of race on campus. We will share more information about this project as it moves forward.

Ongoing Programs
The Committee on Academic Priorities has invited all departments and faculty to submit proposals to host a minority pre- and post-doctoral fellow through the Consortium for Faculty Diversity in Liberal Arts Colleges.   Applications are due in the Provost’s Office by 11/24.

Pensby is presenting a rich array of Diversity Conversations.  Upcoming workshops include “Privilege, Power and Difference” (11/21), “Religion on Campus?” (12/4), and “Ability, Access, and Ableism” on 12/5.

The Diversity Council has begun meeting and will share information about current projects on its website.  The Council is focused on developing spring semester programming and on recommendations for the first-year experience and customs diversity programming.

The annual Dimensions of Diversity three-day retreat will take place in January.  Applications are still being accepted for participants and facilitators; please see the website.

GSSWSR student associations continue to work together to plan activities focusing on honoring our differences and our shared commitment to social justice.  I have been pleased to see students from both graduate schools taking part in Pensby Center discussions and other all-campus forums.

Applications will be accepted in February for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowshipprogram, which was created in 1988 to address racial disparities in academia.  Bryn Mawr has been a partner since the launch of the program.

Planning is underway for the 2015 Women of Color conference sponsored by CHAS (the Consortium on High Achievement and Success); interested students may contact Vanessa Christman or Stephanie Nixon for more information.

I am grateful to all of those who are putting careful and creative thought into these various programs and action steps.  If you have further thoughts or ideas, please let me know.  I look forward to working with all members of our community this year to strengthen the foundations of diversity at Bryn Mawr.

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