Racial Justice Retreat Addresses Demands

Administrators, faculty, staff and student activists from different parts of the campus deliberated on potential solutions that address the 13 “Black Students at Emory” demands at the “Racial Justice Retreat” from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday in Winship Ballroom.

After a long agenda of opening remarks, presentations, breakout discussion groups and dinner, most of the participants walked away from the event with a symbolic, mutual commitment to racial issues on campus as well as anticipation about future steps.

“These are new beginnings for some people,” said James Roland, senior director of community debate programs and moderator of the event,  that evening, “And for others, this has been a conversation they have been having and living.”

Ruth Reyes, Photo Editor
James Roland / Ruth Reyes, Photo Editor

While working groups presented their recommendations about most of the demands at the beginning of the event, groups broke out into discussion sessions to deliberate on a final handful of demands before presenting their recommendations to the entire group at the end. Some working groups were not able to fulfill the complete request of several demands, such as Demand 11, about Yik Yak, and Demand 7, about faculty salaries, but managed to have a discussion about the underlying problems surrounding a variety of racial issues on Emory’s campus.

Leading Up to the Event

A protest last November outlined 13 demands and a Dec. 4 deadline for an administrative response. Before the protest, a group of black student activist leaders met with Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair to discuss their grievances and proposals.

After a month of meetings between activists and administrators, the administration posted its response to the demands, announcing a Jan. 22 retreat to determine action steps, a timeline and an accountability structure.

Student leaders and administrators developed the retreat agenda to structure around working groups, many of which met before the retreat to determine their recommendations.

Ruth Reyes, Photo Editor
Ruth Reyes, Photo Editor

On Jan. 22, however, the University was closed due to a developing winter storm. At first, President James W. Wagner announced that all the retreat working groups — each designated to different demands — would meet to create plans by Feb. 15 and present their recommendations and next steps at a three-hour meeting on Feb. 26 .  

Later, plans were changed again. At the end of January, Nair announced that the full retreat would take place on Feb. 26. The recommendations and draft reports were available online mid-February at the website Dialogue at Emory and community members were invited to contribute feedback via online

While 53 students and 66 staff or administrators were invited, 35 students and 48 staff and administrators attended. Many of students did not stay for the whole event and some who had contributed to working group meetings before the event were not able to attend the retreat. Most students were invited, while others signed up via email.

Opening Remarks and Presentations

Roland began the evening by challenging the audience to learn and listen, understand that this is a process and work towards creating systems for a better Emory.

Wagner then took the stage to say that the University cannot deny the existence of racial injustice and racism on campus and to thank the activists who “could no longer remain silent.”

“On behalf of Emory, I think it is necessary to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ ” he said. “We have to build something tangible with determination and action … Student unrest and social issues are not tangential to what we do.”

Then, working groups for Demands 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 13 presented their recommendations. Below are the Black Students at Emory’s demands, the administration’s initial response, contextual facts regarding each demand and a summary of the working groups’ recommendations and feedback from the audience — in the order discussed at the retreat.

[wc_accordion collapse=”0″ leaveopen=”0″ layout=”box”]

[wc_accordion_section title=”Demand 9: Black Organizations”]

Demand 9: A fair trial with a jury of people of color and a campus-wide press release for each black organization that may be suspended or expelled.

Black student organizations are “underfunded and over-policed,” according to the demand. They are often forced to collaborate with predominately white organizations for “surface level interactions and superficial celebrations of diversity” and are told that their events are exclusive.

Initial Administrative Response to Demand 9: With the Office of Student Conduct (OSC), administration will review policies.

Context for Demand 9: Disciplinary action is dealt with on a case-by-case basis by Campus Life professionals, but professionals of color are involved in all aspects of the process, according to Senior Director of Dining David Furhman.

“The decision to suspend a student organization from the community is difficult and follows a thoughtful and thorough process developed by the OSC with the input of students,” he said.

In regards to the accusation of underfunding, College Council (CC) only funds events that are “open to the entire Emory community” and are advertised as such. Black student activists have criticized this rule because of its effects on events for the black community that are necessary, they say, because there are few events that cater to their community in the broader student landscape. In the beginning of this semester, CC amended their policy to make exceptions for events that contribute to a “community of care.”

Proposed Working Group Solution:

Underfunding of Black Student Organizations:

1)  Alternative funding polities to circumvent CC’s exclusionary policy through requests for “Hearing for Exclusivity Exceptions” that requires a 2/3 vote

  1.     This procedure has been enacted

2) Create equitable financial resource opportunities for National Panhellenic Council (NPHC) Greek student organizations

“There is no recommended solution at this time, due to scope of the issue and solution is not fully known to the student work group members,” the Dialogue at Emory website states. “The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life would be the appropriate office to further evaluate this recommendation and lead the charge to identifying solutions to the concern.”

3) Evaluate Student Government Association’s (SGA) financial support to black student organizations and outline the informal process for impromptu financial requests and approval process

Conduct Policies and Procedures

1) Identify root causes to address perception of over policing of black student organizations

2) Increase diversity of student conduct board members with a recruitment plan by Fall 2016

3) Increase transparency efforts by OSC

Audience Discussion:

The CC president, College senior Alyssa Weinstein, stated that a certain community could still have an event just for that community if it contributes to a community of care.

An audience member requested that CC redefine the word “exclusivity” because, with the policy still in place, the board may not understand the reason for an exclusionary event.

The audience also discussed providing examples of events that fulfill the criteria of “communities of care.”

[/wc_accordion_section]

[wc_accordion_section title=”Demand 4: Faculty Evaluations”]

Demand 4: The addition of two questions about microaggressions and professors’ fit with the University’s community of care on faculty evaluations

“Has this professor made any microaggressions towards you on account of your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, and/or other identity?” and “Do you think that this professor fits into the vision of Emory University being a community of care for individuals of all racial, gender, ability, and class identities?”

Initial Administrative Response to Demand 4: There is no unified course evaluation across all of Emory’s schools, but each academic dean will be asked to review and revise their evaluations beginning in the spring semester. These revisions will be shared through the Council of Deans, the University Senate and other existing mechanisms. The Office of Planning and Budgeting will collect the nature and number of negative actions regarding faculty members.

Proposed Working Group Solution:

1) Learn the best practices by leading universities

2) Use existing opportunities to teach faculty how to create the conditions for students to learn and thrive

Concerns:

1) The need to define microaggressions

2) How to create real-time intervention

3) How to bring information that leads to more inquiry, intervention and resolution

4) Potential bias reporting

Next Steps:

1) Office of the Provost should gather and disseminate information and data about what other institutions are doing in this area. Data should be produced by March 26.

2) All deans should communicate to their faculties institutional expectations of respectful communication and interaction with all students. This should be completed before or during the next meeting of the faculty, which is March 15.

3) The Provost should request suggestions for enhancing classroom climate from the Center for Faculty Development.

Audience Discussion:

During the retreat presentation, the presenters proposed having a class liaison — a trained student who could report potential problems to the ombudsperson. Other potential questions include asking students to describe if the professor upheld the dignity of the student and Emory’s community of care. Because the first question is a yes/no question, the group decided to omit it. They also said that each dean agreed to consider adopting these questions on their evaluations.

A dean at the medical school asked how microaggressions differ from student mistreatment in regards to policy. A student participant, who is black, responded that there is no difference for them.

One student brought up the need for a definition of “community of care” as well as concerns about protecting faculty. Dean of the College Robin Forman spoke on the potential extra burden these evaluations may place on female professors as they are expected to be more caring in the classroom than male professors.

[/wc_accordion_section]

[wc_accordion_section title=”Demand 6: Diversity Iniatives”]

Demand 6: The consultation of black students and faculty during the implementation of diversity initiatives

The demands state that Creating Emory and College Council’s Social Justice Week, which are a part of the “Campus Life Compact” — the response to unrest after Wagner’s editorial regarding the three-fifths compromise have been “surface level” and do not properly include input from students of color.

“Diversity initiatives should not be made from the standpoint of the dominant group (white men and women) or to ensure the comfort of the predominately white student population at Emory,” the demand states.

Initial Administrative Response to Demand 6: Black students will be invited to help plan Creating Emory and other Campus Life diversity initiatives. The Office of Equity and Inclusion with Campus Life will determine committees that do not have student representation. The Advisory Council on Community and Diversity (ACCD) will work to ensure that each division is committed to inclusion.

Proposed Working Group Solution:

1) Change the conversation about leadership to include implications of identity.

2) Enhance involvement of black students and faculty/staff of color on Creating Emory planning group.

3) Any initiative/program/service that is about diversity/racial justice should have students, faculty and staff of color engagement.

4)   Creating Emory should continue to be developed with the involvement of black students and faculty.

5)    Assess the RA class and SRA/RA/SA training to include knowledge of systemic oppression historically and presently in our nation and at Emory University.

6)   Collaborate with Orientation to assess the OL class and trainings to include knowledge regarding systemic oppression historically and presently in our nation and at Emory University.

7)    Develop an advisory board of students, staff, faculty of color who assist Residence Life address potential issues and develop diversity curriculum for the halls.

8)   Enhance diversity education for Greek organizations.

9)   Enhance diversity education for student athletes.

10) Develop a curriculum for social justice education for Residence Life and pilot the program in the first year hall.

11)  Develop a module-based curriculum — 5 weeks and one and half hours per session — for student organizations’, SGA, and College Council executive board members that provides knowledge of systemic oppression and make this mandatory for organizational funding.

12) Develop a series Exploration of Race and Racism in America through a partnership with faculty and Campus Life.

Concerns:

1)    What are our expectations for student leaders?

2)   What do white students need or want to learn about communities of color and social justice? How do we teach that?

3)   How do we attend to the different beginning levels of understanding?

4)   How do we engage those who do not choose to be in these conversations?

5)   What is the role of peer education programs?

6)   How do we include existing expertise?

7)    Need more faculty/staff advisors for student groups.

Next Steps:         

1)    Prioritize recommendations and develop a timeline for implementation that includes deadlines.

2)   Organize staff teams.

3)   Teams will begin meeting twice a month beginning in March.

Audience Discussion:

The group said that this demand is about the lack of access to information about systems of oppression on this campus. A student member of this working group proposed making funding for organizations contingent on attendance at training. Also, the audience discussed “shifting the burden” from the marginalized students.

The group also discussed an assessment of faculty and staff diversity training that will provide recommendations by August.

[/wc_accordion_section]

[wc_accordion_section title=”Demand 11: Yik Yak”]

Demand 11: A geofence to block the smartphone application Yik Yak on campus because of consistent racist remarks anonymously posted on the platform

Initial Administrative Response for Demand 11: Administration does not know whether this is possible or feasible but is in the process of creating a task force to explore this with Information Technology Services and the University Senate.

Proposed Working Group Solution:

1)    Emory could ask Yik Yak to create a geofence but Yik Yak has not agreed to similar requests on a college campus before. It is purely a symbolic step as people can switch platforms and it may require a change to the Open Expression policy.

2)   Emory could ban Yik Yak but people can use other networks and other platforms. It sets a precedent, and it may require a change to the Open Expression policy.

3)   Emory could create a student-led hate speech rapid response team that affirms and supports community members when attacked, creates counter-speech, addresses the core issue and is consistent with the Open Expression policy. However, this does not eliminate anonymous threats and requires constant engagement and a large training effort.

Overall, the working group found that there is no technological solution and the proposed solution is purely symbolic. Also, they found that this conversation is a red herring; the fundamental problem is that “black students do not believe the institution provides them the same level of support when they are under attack,” the recommendations state.

“This is not about Yik Yak,” the recommendation document states. “This about the institution’s relationship with a segment of its student population.”

Process:

1)    Communicate to the public why the proposed solution is inappropriate.

2)   Do not ignore the fundamental problem: “This is about the perception that we are community that quickly, institutionally and justifiably responds when its Jewish students are aggrieved and fails to speak to the emotional distraught of its black students,” the recommendation document states. “Very little will get accomplished unless we address this perceived unequal treatment.”

3)   Sustain conversation about building hospitable and inclusive communities.

Next Steps:

1)    Make an official and public decision and explanation

2)   Create conversations about the institution’s communication and messaging to black students

Audience Discussion:

The group discussed the lack of affirmation of blackness on campus. A black student asked what next tangible steps will show black students that the University is on their side. The student gave the example of administrators attending events such as one about allyship. Another gave the example of administrators contacting the relatives of the slaves that built the institution. A last student said that these concerns should be imbued in the job descriptions of people on this campus.

[/wc_accordion_section]

[wc_accordion_section title=”Demand 7, 8, 12: Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators; Job Security; GED Program”]

Demand 7: Increase of black staff, faculty and administrators to higher positions of power, increased financial compensation or salaries to black staff, faculty and administrators who advise black organizations and changes in Campus Life’s hierarchical structure which places primarily white males at the top.

“The people who are currently in positions of power have done minimal or no work for black students,” the demand states. “Black/POC administrators and staff are overworked and underpaid …”

Context of Demand 7: Campus Life has 36 senior staff members, of which 40 percent are people of color and 28 percent are black, according to Furhman.

Demand 8: Job security for black faculty and administrators when they work on behalf of black students

“Black administrators are told to stand by racist and problematic faculty in order to preserve the positive image of the University … ” the demand states.

Initial Administrative Response to Demand 7, 8 and 10: The January retreat will explore recruitment and retention and potential improvements to increase diversity as the University is not satisfied with current levels of diversity.

Demand 12: A student-led GED program or Emory classes for black workers and better treatment of campus workers

Initial Administrative Response for Demand 12: Emory Human Resources will recommend ways to improve working conditions for workers in Dobbs University Center and Cox and will explore the possibility of GED courses for staff.

Context for Demand 12: Several community members, including Nair, mentioned that a GED program for campus workers has been available in the past but did not receive substantial interest from the staff.

Proposed Working Group Solution for 7, 8 and 12:

1)    Encourage students to recognize faculty and staff possibly through the Wheel, Emory Report and social media

2)   Use Campus Life to bring faculty, students and administrators together

3)   Increase exposure of faculty resources and more such as flexible break times, retaliation policy, reporting policy, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Central Human Resources and other offices

4)   Refresh the open door policy

5)    Continue supervisor training on building trust and hold them accountable

6)   Have professional development opportunities

7)    Increase communication about open expression policy

8)   Encourage managers to take a stand on issues

9)   Create opportunities for students to connect with faculty and staff

Audience Discussion:

The group stated that they cannot legally give salary raises to one identity group but they are examining pay equity and making recommendations. The audience discussed the notion that black staff and faculty have an extra burden to support black students because the students have little outside support.

[/wc_accordion_section]

[wc_accordion_section title=”Demand 13: General Education Requirement”]

Demand 13: A General Education Requirement for courses about people of color by fall of 2016

Initial Administrative Response for Demand 13: This demand will be discussed at the retreat.

Proposed Working Group Solution:

1)    Encourage first-year seminars about race and ethnicity by using Forman and Sterk’s power.

2)   Create a board of students, faculty and Campus Life members to oversee the approval of these classes

3)   Create guidelines for these classes

Next steps:

1)    Meet with Forman and Sterk

List of course suggestions:

Biology: Henrietta Lacks: Race & Biology in the U.S.

                            Human Biology/Anthropology: The Tuskegee Experiment: Ethics, Human Subjects, & Scientific Racism

                            Anthropology: “Other: How some anthropology dehumanizes subjects of color”

                            Creative Writing: “Where are all the poets?”: Black, Latinx, Asian, and indigenous poets from the 19th-21st century

                            Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies: Chicana Feminist Thought: WGSS: Womanism Black Feminism in the midst of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd wave feminism

                            Art History: The difference b/w POC subjectivity & artists of color

                            Statistics: Statistical overview of systemic racism — Redlining, study exclusion of POC

2)   Create an advisory board with at least 2 students. Tap potential candidates by April 15. Students should be from the minority communities who are striving to be represented.

Audience discussion:

The working group found that, while this demand arose from a lack of awareness about race on campus, establishing a new GER in the College would take much longer than they initially thought. They decided to take a two-pronged approach: work to create these classes in the departments and encourage the Faculty Senate to pass the new GER.

Forman stated that faculty control the curriculum and that he was not comfortable with using his power to coerce departments into creating certain courses. A student activist rose to question the administrative response to this demand: “If people aren’t being made to do stuff, then what’s happening? Where is the authority? Where is the urgency?”[/wc_accordion_section]

[/wc_accordion]

Breakout Discussions and Final Presentations:

After the first set of presentations, participants went to their respective working groups to discuss the remaining demands — Demands 1, 2, 5, 10 and 3 — and then present the final recommendations to the larger group. The breakout discussions were attended by Wheel reporters but were off the record. Below are the demands, the initial administrative response, context for each demand and a summary of the working groups’ recommendations and feedback from the audience.

[wc_accordion collapse=”0″ leaveopen=”0″ layout=”box”]

[wc_accordion_section title=”Demand 3: Counseling Services”]

Demand 3: Unique and alternative methods of counseling for black students in the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), including black spirituality methods, black counselors and counselors of color

Administrative Response Response to Demand 3: The CAPS staff is “fully committed to examining how” to address these concerns.

Context of Demand 3: In an email to the Wheel, Furhman wrote that any student can indicate preference for a black therapist or therapist of color.

Currently, 55 percent of the CAPS workers — including senior staff, post-graduates, interns, front office staff and 12 contract clinicians are people of color, according to Furhman. Half of the clinical staff are people of color while 19 percent are black. The staff includes four women of color, two of whom identify as black. Last year, 43 percent of CAPS clients were students of color and 13 percent were black.

Furhman added that CAPS currently hosts a “Students of Color Support and Process Group” — a group for students to process their feelings about their experiences regarding their racial identity, according to the Student Health Services website.

Proposed Working Group Solution:

The group said that it found that CAPS does have a diverse staff.

1)    Enabling students to identify therapists at CAPS who can provide alternative methods of counseling to meet the needs of black students.

2)   Reinstating Circle of Sisters and/or offering a mixed group for both black men and women “Brothers and Sisters.”

3)   Increasing CAPS presence at regular programs that serve black students.

4)   Training black students in mental health first aid or having a group of ambassadors to connect CAPS and the black community.

5)    Reminding students via email in times of distress that CAPS is a resource

6)   Race based training/orientations for professors.

Potential New Processes / Existing Processes to Expand

1)             CAPS-Psychiatry at SHS Multicultural film festival

2)            Make students aware that CAPS has therapists of color who can provide culturally sensitive services for black students.

3)            CAPS participation, if desired, in Kitchen Table, Kujichagulia, and Mode

4)            Meet and greet or outreach events a month or so after new student orientation and for transfer students.

5)        Create unique programs for each year in college.

6)            Appropriate and timely University support responses to national, local and on campus events that could affect the black community.

7)        Programming such as BLACK OPS .

8)            PACE and Orientations can better advertise their mental health resources.

9)            Incorporate more on racial issues in orientation than Issues Troupe.

10)         Collaborate with different OMPS groups to have discussions on mental health with members.

11)           Bring coalition between different black student groups to build more community example: Brothers and Sisters in Christ (BASIC) with Emory Black Student Union (EBSU) to break down barriers and expose people to more spirituality.

[/wc_accordion_section]

[wc_accordion_section title=”Demand 1 and 2: Recognition of Truama; Bias Incident Reporting”]

Demand 1: University recognition of traumatic events for black students, including Bias Incident Reports, via campus-wide emails

Demand 2: A restructuring of the Bias Incident Reporting system that includes a response to the reporter within two days and a personalized response with action steps and sanctions within one week

The demands state that the system has not been “efficient” thus far and that reports should not be used simply for data collection.

Initial Response to Demand 1 and 2: Administration will review the system with black student leaders.

Context of Demand 1 and 2: The Bias Incident Reporting system came out of the “Campus Life Compact for Building an Inclusive Community at Emory.” Under the system, one can report an incident of threatening communications, harassment, confrontation, injury and more by filling out a form or sending an email. The Campus Life website states that a member of the Bias Response Team will respond within 24 hours and that incident reporters should document the evidence of the incident.

Proposed Working Group Solution:

1)    Reconfigure the bias incident response team into a leadership and support team.

  1.     Include a campus life staff member who leads the team, an ombudsperson to serve as student advocate, the Office of Student Conduct director, the Office of Equity and Inclusion director and support team members.

2)   Communicate to student reporters in a timely and consistent manner.

  1.     Send a confirmation email within 24 hours that includes action steps for self-care and an outline of the process.
  2.    Have one team member support the student through the process.
  3.     Allow the student to have input on which team member will support them.
  4.    The team member will meet with the student within a week.
  5.     Send the student an email with the results and a survey.

3)   Revamp the website with the process and a place for feedback.

4)   Review protocol and response.

5)    Review the data and trends twice a year.

6)   Expand diversity, equity and inclusion programming.

Next Steps:

1)    The Bias Incident Response leadership team will develop an implementation plan, meet twice a month for the rest of the semester and finish implementation by July

2)   The President’s Cabinet will discuss communication about the process

[/wc_accordion_section]

[wc_accordion_section title=”Demand 5: Academic Support”]

Demand 5: An academic support system for black students including tutoring, specialized study skills, career mentoring and increased funding for the Multicultural Outreach and Resources at Emory (MORE) Mentoring Program

Not all black students are adequately prepared for Emory’s academic rigor because of the historic and contemporary oppression of black Americans, including limited resources, according to the demand. The demand states that not only does Emory not have a program to address this, but the MORE Mentoring Program limits the number of participants because of a lack of funding.

Initial Administrative Response to Demand 5: Administration will work with black students to further invest in historically marginalized groups. Each academic dean will be asked to create a structure to review academic support, implement improvements and provide a progress report.

Context of Demand 5: Administration has emphasized current academic support for black students, including the networking event for black students “Reality Is…,” Men of Distinction at Emory (MODE), the MORE Mentoring Program and Building Leaders and Cultivating Knowledge (BLACK).

MORE has a capacity of 117 students this year and has a budget of $7,300, according to Furhman.

Proposed Working Group Solution:

1)    Create bridge programs for underrepresented first year students to replace the Hughes Undergraduates Excelling in Science (HUES) program in Emory College, which ended this year. A new pilot program will be in place in Emory College for orientation 2016.

2)   Connect academic support services to student organizations and offices that focus on the needs of underrepresented students and have academic support programs recruit a more diverse group of student leaders and mentors. Academic offices and Campus Life programs should meet this spring about this.

3)   Support students who are in academic transitions and those who are following atypical academic paths that include family and community pressures.

4)   Develop a group of faculty across all academic areas to serve as talent scouts and mentors for black students, who are committed to the success of black students, and who can share the mentoring responsibility that has been disproportionately borne by black faculty.

Audience Discussion:

The working group found that the support work for black students has fallen on a small number of black faculty members.

The working group found that there was a sense that existing programs were not welcoming as peer mentors were not as diverse as their members. The working group also emphasized that faculty should know the students holistically and not just academically.

“We need to think carefully how to implement this because there are a lot of ways it could go wrong,” Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Joanne Brzinski said, adding that this demand calls for a long-term process.

A student audience member brought up the non-academic pressures on black students that limit their ability to connect with faculty through opportunities like office hours.

[/wc_accordion_section]

[wc_accordion_section title=”Demand 10: Recruitment and Retention of Black Professors”]

Demand 10: An increase of black and Latino full time, tenure-track professors to 10 percent by 2017 in departments outside of the African American Studies department and better records of faculty and staff of color demographics

Initial Administrative Response to Demand 7, 8 and 10: The January retreat will explore recruitment and retention and potential improvements to increase diversity as the University is not satisfied with current levels of diversity.

Context for Demand 10: Seven percent of regular, full-time University faculty are black, three-quarters of which are in the School of Medicine and 10 percent of which are at the College. Thirty-nine percent of these black faculty in the College are primarily part of the African American Studies department. These numbers undercount black faculty who also identify as Hispanic, according to Furhman.

Any member of the Emory community can request this data through the Institutional Research Office.

Programs related to this demand include the Office of Equity and Inclusion’s Affirmative Action Plan (AAP), which involves an annual evaluation of faculty composition. If a school or college is below the target, the dean is charged to rectify the composition. Currently, not every school and college has met Emory’s proposed goals.

The Provost Office’s Faculty Diversity Fund helps deans achieve faculty diversity, while other workshops and initiatives, including recommendations by the Class and Labor Committee, have been put in place to work toward this issue.

Proposed Working Group Solution:

Recruitment

1)    All schools should adopt “best practices” in recruitment developed by the Faculty Advisory Committee on Excellence and Diversity.

2)   Explore inter-institutional collaborative opportunities with colleagues at Atlanta’s HBCUs.

3)   Encourage undergraduate students to consider careers in academia and provide necessary support.

4)   Explore development of a version of the “Posse” program and/or consider cohort hiring.

5)    Establish post-doc programs and lines for attracting and supporting a diverse pool of future Emory faculty.

Retention

1)    Create intentional mentoring opportunities for faculty of color.

2)   Assist senior faculty to provide constructive performance feedback to junior faculty; and help junior faculty to request feedback.

3)   Create and support opportunities or forums for minority faculty to interact so that organic relationships can form.

4)   Develop specific guidelines for faculty reviews and encourage department chairs to be systematic in administering them.

5)    Resources should be made available for schools and departments to provide incentives and rewards for measurable progress in inclusion and diversity.

Concerns:

1)    Faculty search committees may not be equipped or committed to recruiting a diverse pool of viable candidates.

2)   We must develop a campus climate that is welcoming and supportive of all races.

3)   This may increase competition amongst PhD students of color.

4)   Some are uncomfortable with sustained conversations about race.

5)    Faculty of color leaving Emory contributes to negative perceptions of the University.

Next Steps:

1)    Clarify what data the university has about the current racial and ethnic composition of the faculty and senior administrative personnel by March 15.

2)   All department chairs and school deans should reaffirm their commitments to excellence, diversity and inclusion by April.

3)   All academic units should indicate to the dean and provost their next steps for increasing diversity of underrepresented minorities by Fall 2016.

4)   Emory should make resources available for deans to propose and pursue innovations that increase faculty diversity, inclusion and excellence by summer of 2016.

Audience Discussion:

A student in the working group discussed the need for different parameters when assessing PhD candidates and an emphasis on the factors that contribute to a narrow pipeline of black candidates, notably historical developments and lower education opportunities. A student audience member added that the Institute of Liberal Arts and visual arts department closures announced in 2012 decreased the number of black faculty drastically.

[/wc_accordion_section]

[wc_accordion_section title=”Next Steps Committee”]

This committee includes members from each working group and Emory administrators, including Wagner. The working groups will be sending their final recommendations by April 4 to Judith Pannell, Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President in Campus Life, who will forward them to the next steps committee. The next steps group will then outline the implementation, timeline and accountability measures.

1)    Creation of action plans and timelines while keeping the public aware of the work being done.

2)   Sustaining long-term dialogue and engagement through potentially an annual retreat and new systems.

3)   Creating a community of care.

Audience Discussion:

A student audience member questioned if the burden for the next steps will fall on the students, given the work they have put into this effort already. Sterk also mentioned the need not to create false expectations and to incorporate these conversations in the upcoming strategic plan. Nair mentioned the need to not repeat the failures of the Campus Life Compact.

[/wc_accordion_section]

[/wc_accordion]

Closing Remarks, Future Steps, Participants’ Response

At the end of the evening, College senior Casidy Campbell, who had led the protest in November, spoke about the event’s revolutionary nature, while cautioning the audience to continue to critique themselves. She mentioned that she had hoped the administrators would sign a contract marking their commitment to these goals, however that did not happen. She encouraged the administrators to still take that action.

IMG_0772
Ruth Reyes, Photo Editor

“We heard some nicely-worded ‘No’s,’ ” she said. “I want to make sure that you guys are fully committed to this beyond conversation … There’s been a lot of talking and talking but is there a ‘do’?”

After Campbell, Wagner spoke about the administration’s commitment to sustaining the conversation. After the event, he told the Wheel that he would like to hear concrete plans before the end of the semester and that these conversations enter into the search for a new president.

“It’s raised the sense of expectation of others here,” he said to the Wheel. “I think it raises our sense of obligation and responsibility as an institution with integrity … It was a good night for Emory and my hope is the kind of changes we make will also be the changes that inspire other institutions.”

Roland concluded the evening by reminding the audience of the historical nature of this event.

“It wasn’t just like we just talked,” he said. “There are things that we can continue to work on and continue to implement. And it’s clear from everyone’s conversation that everyone is committed to that.”

Business school junior Lolade Oshin, a black student who led much of the communication with administration leading up to the retreat, said administration and faculty were formative in making the event a success, but that the work is far from over.

”The retreat was a testimony to how we can continue to grow and do better,” Oshin said. “The black students of Emory are still waiting for sign-offs on the implementation of these ideas, with tangible timelines and strategy.”

Nair said after the event that he hopes administration can secure all the accountability measures, the timeline and the actual action steps within the next month. He said that the working groups will finalize their reports for review by the Next Steps group, to be signed off by administrators and released for community review.

“I think the unanswered questions are around accountability and timeline, and I’m confident that in the next several weeks that we’ll be able to secure answers to those questions,” Nair said.

Chanel Tanner, assistant director of the Center for Women, said she was “energized” by the way students took ownership of the space and pushed back against the administrators when needed.

“It wasn’t like a kumbaya, kind of happy-go-lucky space,” she said.“I don’t think any of us are going to leave here saying ‘We did it’ … We did something but we still have a lot of work to do.”

Tanner noted that because the University was built for white, upper class men, it will have to be tailored for all the students who don’t fit that mold.

In this space, however, College senior TJ Greer said he thought everyone listened to each other as equals.

“I think we have to move away from just wanting to be progressive in issues of social justice and move towards being the epitome of how an institution deals with social justice issues,” he said. “You say that you want to be heard, today is the day to be heard.”

0 comments