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Update on Plans for Improving the Campus Climate

Contributed by News on 01/17/20 

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Dear Campus Community,

As we prepare to begin a new semester, continue to move our strategic plan forward and honor the distinguished life and lasting legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., we want to give you an update on the status of plans for ensuring that our community is collectively held both responsible and accountable for upholding the college’s values and stated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

As noted in the December 13 message to the community, an initial strategy session was held that brought together faculty, staff and administrators from across the campus to discuss concerns expressed by many of our students about a campus climate that they feel is not welcoming.

A number of proposals were raised at the meeting that we are giving further consideration to, including required training for all faculty and staff; a mandatory fourth hour of the Ithaca College Seminar dealing with inclusion; diversification of the curriculum; policies that clearly articulate expectations when micro- and macroaggressions occur inside and outside the classroom; and increased visibility of the Bias Impact Reporting Form, including accountability measures.

First, we would like to make note of some programs for faculty that you may not be aware of that have already been in place under the auspices of the Center for Faculty Excellence:

  • Inclusive search training for chairs of faculty search committees to increase diversity in search pools and increase the likelihood of diversifying the faculty.
  • An Early Career Institute to help tenure-eligible faculty develop strategies to enhance teaching and learning.
  • New faculty orientation for all faculty.
  • Workshop on diversity, equity and inclusion with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports led by associate professor Paula Ioanide from the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity.

The Divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs are actively collaborating to schedule a number of events to take place this spring to address the issues that have been raised.

We will be inviting the executive boards of all POC organizations to meet with the two of us, along with Chris McNamara, chair of Faculty Council and clinical associate professor of physical therapy, to discuss their knowledge of lived experiences of students of color at IC. Following that meeting, we will schedule an open conversation with the three of us for all POC students, providing an opportunity for them to name their concerns and articulate the actions they believe are needed to resolve them.

As part of our strategic plan, the Campus Climate Action Group is in the process of revising the college’s current diversity statement so that it can be used as a tool for engagement, instruction and accountability. The group will be holding an open meeting in February to obtain feedback on its draft from the campus community.

An excellent resource for our work is “How to be an Antiracist,” a book by Ibram X. Kendi that asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like and how we can play an active role in building it. Faculty, staff and students will be invited to participate in a slow read of this book during the spring semester.

The Center for Faculty Excellence will also play a key role by housing a planned yearlong Institute on Antiracism and Equity. The institute will host up to 20 faculty participants who will work throughout the school year and meet over the summer, with the expectation that they share and act on what they learn within their departments and in their schools.

While the details remain to be determined, possible Institute initiatives for faculty could include:

  • Participation in and critique of a Cornell online course on inclusion
  • Training through the EVERFI e-learning module
  • Holding a workshop on antiracist syllabi construction
  • Ongoing conversations on what antiracism, equity and inclusion mean
  • Readings by Kendi, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Beverly Tatum and Herbert Kohl
  • Conversations with authors and others about inclusive pedagogy
  • Conversations with students
  • Reflective journals interrogating what it means to be privileged in an effort to create equitable systems

We recognize—and emphasize—that these are only the beginnings of our efforts. We need to continue hearing from you, and we pledge to listen and collaboratively act to help improve the climate for the student learning and living experience at Ithaca College.

Sincerely,

La Jerne Terry Cornish
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Rosanna Ferro
Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Life

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