April 23, 2010
Response to Call 2 Action/Our Struggle is Tied With Yours
Provost Bethami Dobkin
1. You have asked for student involvement in the review and revision of sexual assault and hotline policies, and in a survivor bill of rights. Students do currently serve this function (Tori Evans and William Calderon). The Women's Resource Center (WRC), currently has a "Dating Bill of Rights," and the WRC began a program renewal this spring which includes review of the hotline. Jane Camarillo and Molly Metherd can keep you updated on progress and involve you to a degree that would be mutually beneficial; essentially, we are doing what you have requested and can explore opportunities for additional student involvement.
2. You have asked for a new staff person to provide greater emphasis on inclusion of safe sex education, diversity, and Safe Zone training in the Freshman Experience. These changes are also underway with our health educator Tia Lillie, program coordinator Maria Capitelli, and Intercultural Center Director Joan Cube. I anticipate greater involvement of Reid Davis and Interactive Theater next year, given the success of their efforts this past year. We have added and will continue to add staff resources to diversity training not only for students in the First Year Experience, but across campus. The first place for Our Struggle students to connect with the evolving changes in programming would be with Maisha Beasley.
3. You have asked for authority to be granted to the Diversity Organizations Council to elect students to sit on all committees, particularly the CSGB (Collegiate Seminar Governing Board) and the Board of Trustees Student Life Committee, and for your participation to be valued. We currently have two students on the CSGB and one on the Student Life Committee of the Board of Trustees, as well as students on many other key campus committees. These appointments and the processes we have for ensuring that students act as representatives may need to be reviewed. We will also discuss the potential for including student representation on the Council of Deans and Directors. Jane Camarillo and Michael Beseda have agreed to raise the issue of student representation with the Board of Trustees Student Life Committee at their meeting on May 14, 2010.
4. You have asked for a student committee, reporting to the Intercultural Center, to establish places for artistic expression on campus. Our discussion has focused on the appropriate process to see this accomplished, which could be expedited, and I understand that students in the group will be preparing a "Facilities Change of Use" form for me to review in consultation with Jane Camarillo. I also encourage consultation with faculty in Art and Performing Arts. As soon as you complete this form, I will send it to the Provost Facilities Committee for review. The next meeting of that group is May 20, 2010. The actual place designation will take longer, depending on time for review by the Campus Facilities Committee, site preparation, etc.
5. You have made a collection of demands about the need for more diversity in our curriculum. I appreciated the connection that you made between student enrollment and course offerings, because we cannot add programs that do not attract students. As we discussed, our current policy of adding sections to overenrolled courses is consistent with your demand. We have extended an offer to our first, tenure-track faculty member in Ethnic Studies, which will result in additional Ethnic Studies courses as soon as next term. Faculty incentives for diversifying the curriculum are likely, pending faculty and student input, in the Fall. Changes in the Collegiate Seminar program are under the purview of the Collegiate Seminar Board, and Tom Poundstone, Chair of the Academic Senate, offered to work with you on influencing that process. I will also articulate some of your concerns to the Senate this Thursday. I also commit to funding a student-initiated Jan Term course. This will require development of a proposal process consistent with Faculty Handbook policy, and this course will not compete with or supplant existing courses.
6. You asked for stability in our financial aid packages, the removal of financial holds on registration, and book vouchers for the start of the semester. Our financial aid policy currently offers stability, and our commitment to affordability has led to both increases in total aid allocated and historically low tuition increases over the past two years. Beginning this fall the College will participate in Federal Direct Lending, which will expedite the disbursement of funds to students including refunds to finance book purchases. In addition, beginning next term the College will expand its emergency loan program so that a student who pays back their loan in a timely fashion will have access to an interest-free loan each fall and spring term. For additional information, please email Michael Beseda.
7. You asked for federal work study opportunities for student leadership on diversity issues, coalition work, and building community. Some leadership awards currently exist through ASSMC, and Program and Professional Development funds are available for Student Organizations and Clubs. Federal work study funding requires that a staff position be created by an existing department, and only students with work study eligibility could hold the position. This may not be the best way to recognize student leaders in diversity. I am open to funding a student diversity leadership award that might serve this purpose, which we can begin discussing immediately.
8. You have asked for mandatory diversity training for all faculty and staff, and to be included to create a co-intentional educational experience. The CCIE began this year the Campus of Difference (COD) workshops for faculty and staff. We are currently assessing the success of that program, planning to increase development offerings to faculty and staff, and considering ways to make these workshops mandatory. I will urge the Senate to develop mechanisms for enforcement of their own resolution for mandatory cultural competency workshops at their next meeting, April 22, 2010.
9. You have asked for a gender-neutral on-campus housing option for students. We understand this request to be motivated by a concern that all students have a residential choice that offers them safety from harassment and the respect and inclusion they deserve as human persons. We will add a housing question about personal identity and intentionally assign students who are concerned about the single-sex floor configuration to a suite on a particular floor in Aquinas. Residence Life will also work support students who are concerned about safety. Jane Camarillo is currently working with Keelia Murphy to craft language for the housing question to be implemented during this year's roommate selection process for incoming students.
10. You have asked that each faculty and staff search process be required to document the following of proactive hiring processes and that at least two students be involved in each faculty search. It is current College policy to support proactive search processes and to document the process. Human Resources will follow up when searches are conducted. We will encourage faculty and staff to involve students in the search process whenever possible.
In addition to these items we agreed at the CCIE meeting to find more ways to incorporate student voices in the operation of the College. The CCIE will work with your group to establish an "Inclusive Excellence Student Advisory Committee" which will receive updates from and report to the CCIE. The four representatives from Our Struggle will be foundational to this group, with the expectation that it will expand to include other voices in the future. I hope one lasting effect of your action will be to bridge the gap between the work that is done on behalf of SMC students with the actual experience and knowledge of students themselves.