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Engaging Dialogue: Improving Campus Climate
This document addresses the issues and concerns raised by students and submitted to administration November 6, 2008, as intended to increase cultural awareness and administrative transparency.
Colby College is committed to students learning about people and cultures different from themselves, the richness these differences add to our society, the fact that prejudice limits such enrichment, and how each individual can promote tolerance and understanding. These values are at the core of our colleges' mission.
As in the larger community, mistakes are often made in regard to lack of cultural sensitivity, cultural knowledge and overall respect and understanding of our human differences. Fortunately, in this college environment we are able to reflect upon these situations, and, sometimes use them as cultural learning opportunities.
The work that is taking place now, and has been for the last three years, through the Student Affairs strategic plan known as Colby 360 (a holistic approach to intellectual engagement in all aspects of student life) is institutional. Such actions include, but are not limited to enhancing or changing student programs, coordinating staff functions to better serve and achieve the College's diversity objective and developing multicultural literacy curricular standards for academic and social life.
Your demonstrated concerns, combined with student and administrative leadership, have influenced the dedication and speed with which these changes are being made and implemented. These changes will come in the form of immediate tangible programmatic changes as well as ongoing enhancements to campus culture. Some changes you will see now and some will reveal themselves later. The work towards reaching our goals can be as enriching as it is to achieve them.
Student Programming Board
SPB holds meetings for their General Board and members of the community. Included in the Agenda will be discussion and feedback on proposed programming. Meetings are held every other Monday. The times and locations can be found at http://www.colby.edu/spb/meetingsandhours.html.
There is greater level of oversight of SPB by Campus Life. Secondly, Campus Life and SPB have partnered to collaborate in the programmatic selection and presentation of campus wide programs. Additionally, SPB and PCB have created a partnership to increase communication as well as programming co-sponsorships. These collaborative relationships will allow for further conversations to increase cultural awareness in programming.
SPB & PCB Chairs and members will meet regularly and have a representative act as a liaison on respective boards. Recorded minutes will be available on PCB & SPB websites.
SPB & PCB will share the Marson Room as a meeting space and workplace for programming efforts.
A calendar will be displayed in Pulver (across from the Pugh Center) shared by SPB, PCB and other Clubs for postings of events and programs.
In reference to questions pertaining to artist contracts, language has been enhanced in the Colby Campus Life Riders to read as follows: Artist should refrain from use of comments/material having racist, sexist or homophobic overtones. Should the Artist make comments and/or use material of an explicitly racist, sexist, homophobic nature, the Presenter reserves the right to end the performance immediately and withhold payment. If all conditions are not fulfilled, the contract will be renegotiated according to violation.
Students who have a concern about an event in progress can approach the student in charge of the program (SPB or other) or contact Security.
As planning begins for the spring and fall semesters, with respect to student leadership training, Campus Life and SGA resources (internal & external) are being identified to further the educational opportunities for students and staff. Such initiatives include a student leadership multicultural and training retreat, and interactive training programs throughout the semester.
Students seeking leadership positions will be expected to show evidence of diversity training or experiences. For example, involvement in a situation where empathy was displayed and specific action was taken to improve understanding of the circumstance.
The November 6, 2008 document requested, "All first-year students fulfill a multicultural diversity requirement, in the form of an academic course, similar to the all-campus requirement for English 115." Coincidentally, the curricular planning working groups, in their broad review of the Colby curriculum that began in March 2008, have developed a multicultural literacy requirement for all students. The work of this group is ongoing, and the parameters of the Multicultural Literacy proposal are yet to be fully determined. It will, however, focus, broadly, on providing students with knowledge and skills that will enable them to interact effectively with others across all dimensions of difference, and to live and work productively in multicultural contexts. Also, since August 2008, the Multicultural Literacy group has been working closely with other faculty involved in the ongoing Curricular Planning process. The proposals that result from this process (including a proposal for a Multicultural Literacy requirement) will be presented to and considered by the full faculty in the spring of 2009.
Action Plan Moving Forward
To increase communication between the student body and administration it has been proposed to have at least two Town Hall forums a semester to inform and exchange information about Campus matters. SGA currently has this proposal and will move forward with it in the spring. The discussions could be on a topic from the civil discourse, or students can submit questions or concerns.
Below are the programmatic offerings currently in progress:
Multicultural Retreat – Hosted by SGA
Martin Luther King Annual Celebration - Realize the Dream (this year's theme)
SHOUT (Speaking, Hearing, Opening Up Together) March 5,6,7
Off Campus Programming
Pugh Community Board
Multicultural Programming in Pugh Center
Candlelight Series Saturday Night dinner & discussion with faculty TBA
Dialogue not Debate, hosted by students TBA
Race & Racism Committee
The Committee on Race and Racism serves as a vehicle for considering policy, practices, and issues of any kind related to, but not limited to, race and racism on the campus; review and suggest strategies:
Success in Science Initiatives
This is an initiative to create interest in the sciences for first years and underrepresented groups.
Ongoing Student Leadership Training
Campus Life to include skill set development around multicultural topics
Signed by Noel James, Multicultural Affairs, Kelly Wharton, Campus Life, Jessica Dash, Campus Life, Joe Atkins, Multicultural Affairs, Mark Tappan, Professor and Director, Education, Tiffany Martin'09 and Paolo Pepe'09.