Response to Campus-Wide Demands: A Call for Racial Justice
Dear Saint Mary’s College Students, Faculty, and Staff
Last year, our campus mourned the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others not represented in the media. There were many conversations and emails exchanged that expressed anger and utter pain. One letter that stood out was submitted by the President of the Black Student Union (BSU), Ms. Shilei Bell-Lipsey, who described herself as “a rising junior who loves her community.” In her letter, there was a direct call for Saint Mary’s College to put action behind their words of condolences.
The BSU letter was followed by a Black Lives Matter (BLM) Committee communication and another letter from the Ethnic Studies Department. All echoed the sentiments of the BSU, and went further to call for changes in the College’s administrative structure, in support services, and in policy and execution. Collectively, these letters have come to be known as the “List of 20 Demands for Campus-wide Racial Justice.” The letters from the BSU, BLM Committee, and Ethnic Studies Department did not go unnoticed. They galvanized people. They energized people in our community who were bystanders before and thought “someone else will take care of it.” This resulted in a renewed commitment by many students, faculty, staff, and administrators to “do the work.”
I openly share with you that much of the call to action is being addressed, but as many of you know, anti-racism work is never over. The work is incomplete, yet there have been significant accomplishments: The Senior Diversity Officer is now part of the President’s Cabinet. Last week, it was announced that the position of Senior Diversity Officer will be elevated to a full-time Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence and Senior Diversity Officer. This is what progress looks like. Systemic change is not the responsibility of one office or one person. We all must do our part.
During the summer of 2020, we were all reeling from the COVID pandemic, but the work continued. A working group of the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence (CCIE) met often, and decided that a campus-wide conversation about the contents of the three letters should be discussed at All Faculty Day and All Staff Day. The demands made by the BSU, BLM, and Ethnic Studies Department were combined, unedited, as one list; and what emerged were the following themes: Campus Climate, Hiring and Retention of Black Faculty and Staff, Racial Profiling and Harassment, and Curriculum and BIPOC Student Retention. In August, faculty and staff met in small groups and discussed these themes and the specific charge for implementation. The outcome was a commitment by several members of the SMC community to participate in systemic change on campus. Is the work over? No. Have we addressed every call for change? No. But progress is being made, which is essential when working toward positive change.
This webpage serves as a transparent platform for providing updates to the Saint Mary’s community on what has been addressed, and the critical work in progress as we strive for racial equity.
Please review each of the themes for updates on their respective call to action. We welcome your feedback, participation, and engagement. If you have any questions or comments please contact the CCIE at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Onward and Upward,
Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence
and Senior Diversity Office
Four Categories of Demands
1. Increased funding for the activities and personnel of College Community of Inclusive Excellence (CCIE).
CCIE provided funding for Graduate Fellow
2. Requiring all staff and administrators to be up to date on GUIDE training as a requirement for successful completion of their yearly personnel review.
GUIDE workshops began in Fall and will continue in Spring: 2 trainings @ -50 faculty/staff per Semester
"Facilitating the GUIDE Tier 1 sessions was much more fulfilling than I anticipated. Gathering with colleagues on zoom last fall, it was obvious how much we all missed being in community with one another. Thus I really loved how the GUIDE curriculum we created allowed for community building spaces to be created. Whether in small breakout rooms, or sharing our thoughts in a large group debrief, people really seemed excited to be with one another in a critically thinking and critically feeling space. The intentional grounding exercises we opened with, as well as the variety of post-session readings and video homework helped to round out and broaden the learning for us all. Overall, facilitating GUIDE helped remind me of the best parts of Saint Mary's College and the amazing people that make this a special place." - Legacy Lee Director of the Delphine Intercultural Center
"It was beautiful to see a sense of community through dialogue amongst staff and faculty. There is still much to be done to create the anti-racist campus that we aspire to be, but being present, actively listening, and reflection are steps we can take to realize our collective vision. GUIDE offers us the space to do this under guided facilitation." -Professor Loan Dao, Director, Ethnic Studies Program
3. Requirements for mandatory training on racism and white supremacy for all administrators, faculty, and full-time staff.
Kevin Kumashiro will provide DEI workshops for Cabinet and Deans/Associate Deans in March/April
4. Provide a clear statement articulating that there is an expectation from the President that faculty and staff must participate in GUIDE trainings/workshops.
Upcoming opportunities to collaborate with the new President, Richard Plumb
5. Provide increased investment in resources (e.g. funding, time, personnel) to properly support GUIDE Tier I trainings.
Legacy Lee began training for new GUIDE facilitators, and onboarding Kevin Kumashiro to provide critical and instrumental efforts to building a long term facilitation resource and materials
6. Requiring all faculty to be up to date on GUIDE training prior to receiving any support for professional development, consideration for promotion, participation in January Term, and/or being considered for IRB approval.
Lack of resources to meet the need of GUIDE training is still an issue, Terms are already in place as approved by the Senate and Staff Council
7. Financially invest and support a robust Campus Climate Survey process led by an outside vendor.
SMC has contracted with Rankin and Associates to conduct the fall 2021 Campus Climate survey that includes a plan and timeline for implementation.
- Elevating the Senior Diversity Officer to a Cabinet-level position, and adding an independent ombuds office under a new department of college diversity, equity, and inclusion.
SDO added to Cabinet in October 2020-June 30, 2021
- Developing on-campus childcare, potentially using space in the recreation center as it was originally earmarked, open to use by faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students with families. Dedicated on-campus childcare options are being explored. As the cost, space, liability, and pandemic-related public health concerns associated with weighing such options are complex, we are also looking at more immediate ways of assisting SMC caregivers. In addition to the pre-tax Flexible Spending Account available to employees for Child and Dependent Care expenses, we are exploring potential partnerships and discount rate options with area child development and childcare centers.
- Recruiting and retaining people of color in the administration and Board of Trustees who hold the values of social justice and Lasallian education over corporate models and profit.
- Hiring or contracting a Black counselor or psychologist who has demonstrated experience working with Black students, and demonstrated commitment to anti-racist work.
CAPS has contracted with Dr. Porter and she began conducting Healing Circle Groups, see her video explaining her groups and experience at SMC here!
1. Improving campus-wide access to and transparency of the BIRT reporting process.
2. Developing a process for the reporting and tracking of incidents of police harassment of our students by local law enforcement, and providing legal support for students who choose to pursue complaints.
VP for Student Life and the Executive Director/Chief of Campus Safety and Transportation will plan to create some method of collecting informational reports of police harassment and connect with the Chief of Police in Moraga. Although the College would not be able to provide legal support to students, there are legal resources for students that we can research so they can be made available to students who are considering or choosing to pursue complaints.
3. Transparency in the SMC contract or agreements with local law enforcement, including any budgetary obligations for their services.
SMC does not contract with local law enforcement. Any services provided to Saint Mary’s are in line with what police agencies provide to private landowners in their jurisdiction.
4. Transparency in any agreements SMC has with immigration enforcement.
Saint Mary’s does not have any agreements with immigration enforcement. We would be obligated to comply with the law.
5. Transparency in the role, responsibilities, grievance process, de-escalation and cultural competency training, and budget of SMC campus Campus Safety and what budget cuts this office will take in the current budget crisis.
Role and Responsibilities of Campus Safety
The role and responsibility of Campus Safety is to support all members of and be a part of the SMC community. The staff is responsible for enforcing the policies and protocols of the university including the policies related to employees and students as guided by the employee and student handbooks.
Campus Safety Officers:
- Are non-sworn; they do not make arrests or investigate crimes.
- Are unarmed and do not carry weapons.
- Do not make vehicle stops or patrol outside of Saint Mary’s College with the exception of the Saint Mary’s Rheem Campus in Moraga.
- Do not author or serve search warrants.
- Do have the authority to ask people for identification, to determine whether individuals have lawful business at Saint Mary’s College, and to issue parking tickets on campus.
- Respond to alarms, medical emergencies, and deter crimes.
- Are the primary service support for lock-outs, escorts, welfare checks, building security and access, information dispatch and facility emergencies.
- Documents incidents in reports.
- Provide training on various topics that include active shooter, restraining orders, stalking, emergency preparedness or other topics as needed.
Criminal incidents are referred to the Moraga Police Department that has jurisdiction on the campus.
All Campus Safety incident reports that involve students are forwarded to the Office of Community Life for review and potential welfare or disciplinary action. The Department of Campus Safety supports Student Life and will assume a wider role involving health and screening.
Any member of the community would be encouraged to report concerns regarding the conduct of a particular officer or concerns about response to an incident. The way to file such a complaint can be found on the Campus Safety website at this link (Officer Conduct).
Training and Professional Development
In 2020, SMC hosted Dr. Kevin Cokley to conduct a de-escalation workshop for law enforcement and campus security officers and agencies. Campus Safety staff participated
in that training. In 2021, this training was again hosted virtually and had three new Campus Safety staff members attended the Workshop. Additionally, we are offering the book, Defund Fear (Zach Norris) to Campus Safety staff as a professional development resource and will be discussing select chapters during all Campus Safety staff meetings in the Spring Term.
As with all members of the Saint Mary’s Community, Campus Safety staff would be expected to participate in GUIDE training developed and offered by CCIE, Human Resources.
6. Transparency in the number (not names or details) of complaints about Campus Safety over the past 4 years per year.
In the past 4 years, there have been four formal complaints submitted to Campus Safety: two regarding the profiling of a student and two related to violations of the College standards for employee conduct. Any complaints related to violations of the College policy would be investigated through Human Resources and the Executive Director/Chief of Campus Safety. All details of such investigations would be confidential.
Complaints related to bias incidents may also come through the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) and we confirmed that the four came through BIRT as well. As part of the BIRT action, if such complaints are filed, they would be expected to go through a formal review and investigation that includes Human Resources and Campus Safety Director.
7. Requirements for meaningful diversity, de-escalation, and cultural competency training as part of our ongoing contracts with any large external vendors, including local law enforcement, Good Eats, and local businesses.
Campus Safety does not contract with local law enforcement or local business. Good Eats establishes a contract with SMC Administrative Services.
8. Investment in research and testing of alternative policing models and alternatives to policing.
Beginning in 2019, Campus Safety examined means of clarifying the role of the department at providing service and resources to the campus community as well as support for the conduct policies and protocols of the College. The first step was to revise the uniforms of the Campus Safety staff to better represent their role and appear less like a law enforcement body (e.g. removal of badges, ranks represented by stripes on sleeves, and blue formal wear). The training being offered to Campus Safety (e.g. victim-centered interviewing, cultural competency, de-escalation) further emphasizes its role in campus community support. This work has begun and will continue under the new leadership that is anticipated for the Spring of 2021.
1. Enhancing the social justice component of Collegiate Seminar by shifting from a socratic discussion to a difficult dialogue model.
This request from the BLM working group clearly speaks to a need for more clarity around what the discussion model is for Seminar. To this end, since 2018, we have been offering mandatory FYAC (First Year Advising Cohort) workshops each spring for first year students in Seminar 1. In this workshop, which has gone through many iterations, we 1. Read the Seminar Mission Statement; 2. Read and examine the RAPS model for difficult dialogues from the Social Justice Training Institute, and 3. Read and process some passages from Seminar texts that themselves raise ideas that could potentially interfere with dialogue because they speak about issues by singling out people or groups: we look at how to process moments like this in the text in small groups in the workshop, and ask groups to use the Seminar Mission Statement principles and the RAPS model to suggest strategies for dialogue that are respectful and empathetic, and to report out on what they find.
Fall 2021: The next phase in this process is to bring this training to new faculty in a more explicit way. We are expanding the training for new faculty by increasing the required amount of training (instead of taking two required workshops and two more of your choice, we’ll require 5-6 meetings where consistent material is presented, and by offering a stipend for completing the training). Potential Topics include: 1. What is Seminar? Structure, Texts, Pedagogy. 2. How to Structure Major Writing Assignments and grade them: writing as thinking and process; 3. How to Use Informal Writing and Reflective Writing to Support Student Learning; 4. Seminar Discussion Strategies 1: Literature Circles and Empathy-Based Classroom Agreements; 5. Evaluating Seminar Discussion (questions model; coding model; labor log model); 6. Seminar Discussion Strategies Using the Difficult Dialogues Strategies).
2. Making ethnic studies a graduation requirement, and increasing the diversity of staff, faculty, and curricular materials to reflect the diversity of the Bay Area and the world.
The main issue related to the BLM movement and the Core Curriculum was the requested addition of an Ethnic Studies requirement to the Core requirements that would build on the ES requirement across high schools in California. To address this issue, members of the CCC met with two members of the Ethnic Studies Department on August 31, 2020 and we concluded that adding another requirement to the already bloated Core at this time was not prudent. Instead we collectively decided to work on modifying the American Diversity requirement to capture the types of learning outcomes articulated by the ES department in the meeting. Subsequently, the following language was added to the Core Curriculum Program Review (a document submitted to the Academic Senate in Fall, 2020 that reviewed the current Core structure and outlined several recommendations to improve the Core at SMC):
Based on information supplied by the ES faculty and a proposal to move forward with an Ethnic Studies requirement that builds on the High School Ethnic Studies requirement in California, the AD learning outcomes could be rewritten to reflect less of a diversity model and more of a non-hegemonic model:
1. Analyze aspects of social diversity (e.g., ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, and ability, and how they create privileged and oppressed groups in the United States of America; and
2. Explain how social categories and structures of power may affect the human person, taking an explicitly anti-oppressive stance.
3. Engage with a theoretical framework for understanding power and oppression.
The CCC is currently waiting Senate approval to act on the recommendations outlined in the Program Review document. While waiting for the green light, we recently came across language in the Core Curriculum Learning Outcomes at another institution that could help. Modifying the American Diversity requirement into a requirement that studies “Race, Gender, and Power” appears to be consistent with the aims of the Ethnic Studies proposal. Thus, the Ethnic Studies Department representatives are invited to meet with the CCC again April 7th to discuss the validity of the modifications and perhaps a timeline for moving in this direction.
3. St. Mary’s to fulfill its commitment to the End the Silence campaign, outlined by the President on May 13, 2016
Progress Highlights for the SMC Community
Dr. Carnetta Porter earned her doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology/AIU in San Francisco. Her research and clinical interests include linguistic code-switching and acculturative experiences, cultural/racial identity development and racial trauma. As a Black identified therapist, she brings to CAPS 30+ years of professional/clinical development operating through a multi-cultural lens working with diverse populations as a therapist and educator.
Dr. Porter shares her reflection with us on her time at SMC so far and her work in the CAPS Healing Circles.
De-Escalation Training with Dr. Kevin Cokley
On March, 3rd 2021 Saint Mary's hosted Dr. Kevin Cokley, a renowned psychologist and professor at the University of Texas at Austin who specializes in African American Psychology, Racial Identity and Achievement, and Race and Racism. He returned to the 44 Days Honoring Black History program to offer his pivotal de-escalation training in a virtual format to the Saint Mary’s Campus Safety officers, members of law enforcement agencies, and other interested community members.
The objectives of this training include the following: a) knowing the difference between fear and danger, b) understanding how perception influences emotion and behavior, c) assessing the effectiveness of police scenarios involving de-escalation and learning how to use de-escalation techniques, d) increasing cultural competence and awareness about implicit bias, and e) learning how to eliminate bias and rebuild community.
Workshops to enhance the social justice component of Collegiate Seminar by shifting from a socratic discussion to a difficult dialogue model.
This request from the BLM working group clearly speaks to a need for more clarity around what the discussion model is for the Seminar. To this end, since 2018, we have been offering mandatory FYAC (First Year Advising Cohort) workshops each spring for first-year students in Seminar 1. In this workshop, which has gone through many iterations, we 1. Read the Seminar Mission Statement; 2. Read and examine the RAPS model for difficult dialogues from the Social Justice Training Institute, and 3. Read and process some passages from Seminar texts that themselves raise ideas that could potentially interfere with dialogue because they speak about issues by singling out people or groups: we look at how to process moments like this in the text in small groups in the workshop, and ask groups to use the Seminar Mission Statement principles and the RAPS model to suggest strategies for dialogue that are respectful and empathetic, and to report out on what they find.
Fall 2021: The next phase in this process is to bring this training to new faculty in a more explicit way. We are expanding the training for new faculty by increasing the required amount of training (instead of taking two required workshops and two more of your choice, we’ll require 5-6 meetings where consistent material is presented, and by offering a stipend for completing the training).