Opinion

STRIVE: Concerned students revise “Diversity” section of Strategic Planning Document

We as students at Macalester College are troubled by this year’s diversity section of the Strategic Plan (please see: page 18-19 of the 2014 Strategic Plan). What are the implications of having only 5 tactics for increasing diversity on Macalester’s campus? What are the risks in describing diversity as the mere presence of “traditionally under-served populations”? And why is diversity important not just to the institution, but to the students who make up this school? These concerns have prompted us to rewrite pages 18 and 19 of the original Strategic Planning Document. We have provided a working definition for diversity, revised the ‘rationale’ section, and expanded the concrete tactics we hope Macalester will commit to for the upcoming years. We have also set deadlines for these commitments to demonstrate the urgency of this matter – while we recognize that policy change is a slow process, we believe Macalester College has the ability to make multiculturalism not only an ideological mission but an everyday practice.

Our rewrite is informed by our own experiences, the social identities we carry with us each day, as well as the stories of students who came before us. As Audre Lorde famously stated: “when we speak we are afraid / our words will not be heard / nor welcomed / but when we are silent / we are still afraid / So it is better to speak / remembering / we were never meant to survive.” As concerned students, we choose to speak.

Below, we provide the 5 original tactics suggested in THRIVE: The Future of Macalester, A Report from the Strategic Planning Committee, September 2014, as well as our 14 proposed tactics. This rewritten document is by no means the end goal – we hope it will serve as the beginning of a dialogue between all members of this community, the gathering of momentum for institutional change. If you feel inclined to submit your own feedback to the Strategic Planning Committee, you can do so by completing a Campus Input Form on the Strategic Plan 2014 section of Macalester’s website.

Tactics from the original Strategic Planning Document

• Explore seriously the possibility of associating with programs such as Posse and Questbridge, which have a track record of success in helping enroll and graduate students from under-served populations.

• Given the direct correlation between standardized test scores and family income, as well as the relative lack of predictive power of those tests, join an increasing number of our peers in becoming “test optional” for applicants.

• Set aside 3 to 5 tenure-track faculty lines for “targeted searches” for qualified faculty members who will meet the curricular needs of the college and increase the diversity of the faculty.

• Convert the two positions currently occupied by Fellows from the Consortium for Faculty Diversity to tenure-track positions that enhance diversity within our faculty and curriculum. This change would add both courses and stability with a very modest increase in cost. At the same time, use the endowed Berg and Wallin Fellow positions to focus on appointments that will enhance diversity so that we can we can ensure that this shift will result in a net gain in diversity hires.

• Review our staff hiring policies and practices, particularly those affecting our hiring within the local market, with the goal of developing strategies for increasing diversity within our applicant pools and ultimately our staff.” (pages 18 and 19)

Proposed Tactics (the 14 tactics we suggest in our rewritten pages 18 and 19. Italicized phrases are those also used in the original Strategic Planning Document.)

Short-Term Goals and Tactics

• Actively work to make classrooms more inclusive of diverse student experiences, particularly those from traditionally marginalized backgrounds.

(a) Require all current faculty and staff to go through the Allies Training Program of the Department of Multicultural Life by January 2018 (within the next three [3] years).*^

(b) For immediate implementation, we recommend that all new faculty and staff be required to partake in the Allies Training upon arrival.

(c) After completing the Allies Training, new faculty will be required to attend a panel discussion with students from diverse backgrounds on the subject of their experiences in the classroom at Macalester and why actively being an ally to all students should be of the utmost importance to improving the classroom environment.

(d) By January 2018, with the involvement of a committee of students, create and include Classroom Inclusivity Guidelines in the syllabi of all Macalester faculty.** The Classroom Inclusivity Guidelines should pay special attention to students’ diverse experiences and how to foster more supportive classroom environments.

(e) By January 2018, create and implement a Classroom Inclusivity Support Team composed of trained faculty and staff*** to provide support and resources to students who feel marginalized in the classroom as well as an outlet to create dialogue for change.

(f) Explore seriously the creation of an online anonymous reporting form^ for students to submit their experiences or grievances related to behavior within the classroom that made them feel marginalized or silenced.

Given the direct correlation between standardized test scores and family income, as well as the relative lack of predictive power of those tests, join an increasing number of our peers in becoming “test optional” for all applicants by the 2016 – 2017 admissions cycle.

• Make explicit on job openings that criminal records and disability do not affect hiring decisions for all levels of Macalester staff and faculty.

Long-Term Goals and Tactics

Explore seriously the possibility of partnering with programs such as Posse and Questbridge as well as local college access programs and diverse high schools with a large population of traditionally underrepresented students to encourage those students to apply, commit and succeed at Macalester.

• Increase the resources and funding for support services for students of color to succeed at Macalester. For example, expand the Emerging Scholars Program as a continuous support system at Macalester and provide specific resources for students of color at Health and Wellness and the Career Development Center.

• Compare the staff hiring policies and practices of less diverse departments with currently diverse departments such as the Department of Multicultural Life, Campus Activities and Operations, Residential Life and Facilities to find and implement changes to staff hiring policies and practices.

• Over the next 3-5 years, designate 7-10 tenure-track positions explicitly and exclusively for new faculty of color hires. These can be designated through either tenure-track lines or new tenure-track allocations.^^

Convert the two positions currently occupied by Fellows from the Consortium for Faculty Diversity to tenure-track positions that enhance diversity within our faculty and curriculum. This change would add both courses and stability with a very modest increase in cost. At the same time, use the endowed Berg and Wallin Fellow positions to focus on appointments that will enhance diversity so that we can we can ensure that this shift will result in a net gain in diversity hires.

Footnotes

*^ We understand that changing the demographics of the faculty and staff requires long term policy change and commitment. In the meantime, we must uphold our commitment to current students who hold marginalized identities and provide them with the best education as well.

** Similar to the inclusion on syllabi of information regarding the Colleges Harassment Policy and Disability Services.

*** Similar in structure to and modeled after the Sexual Assault Support Team.

^ Similar in structure to and modeled the Sexual Assault Incident Report Form.

^^ These numbers are taken from the Macalester College Student Government resolution on March 1, 2014 (Resolution: Call to increase the diversity of faculty, Session: 2013-14, Number: 006, Authors: Merita Bushi (AAC Chair), Alvin Kim (Student Liaison to the Board of Trustees)).

September 19, 2014

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