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Update on Senior Staff Goal #6- Employee Development

May 5, 2017
By Emmy Newman’17 and Ann Davies
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Growing out of a movement that included student activism in support of equity and the #MakingEquityRealatBeloit series last year, the college’s senior staff (the president’s cabinet) set 10 Inclusive Living and Learning goals last summer and finalized them in early fall. Each goal has a lead individual responsible for it, and progress toward goals is tracked on this Projects and Priorities web page.

The Terrarium plans to check in on each of the goals to track their progress. This short Q &A is on Goal No.6, Employee Development. Senior Staff and others have implemented Decolonizing Pedagogies, a reading group, supported by the Mellon Foundation. Provost and Dean of the College Ann Davies sat down with Emmy Newman’17 to discuss the goal’s progress. Learn more about the goal here.

How did the senior staff reading series work as a whole? Have there been any plans for a follow-up workshop?

Our reading series was modeled after the pedagogies reading series that has been part of the Decolonizing Pedagogies supported by the Mellon Foundation. Senior staff, along with a group of directors from across the college (e.g., associate deans, the director of Human Resources, the Athletics Director) split into two groups that met for six 1.5-hours sessions across the semester. Each session involved a set of readings and a writing prompt, which were then engaged through discussions led by Nicole Truesdell and Catherine Orr or Lisa Anderson-Levy and Jesse Carr.

That series wrapped up last week. Some participants will, I think, continue in the program and curriculum development workshop.

What is the progress on the handbook for promoting equity in the recruitment of job candidates, set to be finished in the fall?

The handbook will be finished in the summer.

How is the assessment of the bias incident policy progressing?

This semester, we've been focusing on how the reporting and resolution process has been experienced by both those who have reported and those who have been the subject of those reports. The assessment has revealed some places where we can do better in communicating the process overall, its goals, and the resolution of individual cases. A year's worth of cases has also helped us hone our own coordination in terms of who needs to know what, when, and how cases should be handled by our lead responders.

What do you feel has been the most productive part of your work on this goal?

To be clear, this goal doesn't involve my work alone, but the collective work of many, many people. I'm just the point person for senior staff.

From my perspective, the most productive part of the work has involved the reading series. Nicole, Catherine, Lisa, and Jesse put together a powerful set of readings and prompts, and participants proved willing to wrestle with them in very honest ways that provoked insight regarding whiteness and how we can place equity and inclusion at the center of our work. I can't speak for everyone, but I left the series more aware of oppression's entrenchment, more aware of actions I could take to resist it, more resolved and confident to take them. The power of the reading series is that I think a number of others left with a similar sense, which means that there's real possibility for a fresh orientation toward equity and inclusion across different parts of the college.

To borrow from Andrea Smith (cofounder of the national organizations INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence and The Boarding School Healing Project), the aspiration, I believe, is to move beyond people feeling guilty about having privileges and instead toward "a collective project to transform these conditions so that everybody has privileges, everybody has skills, and everybody has power to make decisions." That's a tall order, I know, and obviously, what happens next is very important. What Smith is talking about involves tectonic shifts in how we go about the work we do, and some of that change is necessarily -- and sometimes frustratingly -- slow. I also expect that we'll continue to pursue changes that feel more immediate (e.g., better signage for physical accessibility, more gender neutral bathrooms, more training for staff).

What is your next step in the process of working through this goal?

  • It will be worthwhile for senior staff to debrief on the reading series and how it informs our individual and collective goals and work next year around equity and inclusion.
  • Finish the hiring handbook.
  • Wrap up the assessment of the anti-hate act and bias incident pilot and determine how to facilitate a healthy campus conversation about next steps with regard to that protocol.


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