Response to Community Forum Demands

Posted: December 15, 2015

Dear student organizers,

Thank you for meeting with the senior team today.

I’d like to acknowledge the role you have played—and continue to play—in articulating changes that are needed to address institutional racism and create a more supportive climate for students of color and other marginalized groups at Scripps College.

I am writing to provide an overview of the commitments made in our conversation today, where we stated which among the demands we can act on immediately, which priorities may take longer to implement or require an alternative approach, and which items we will not pursue this academic year.

  1. In our role as stewards of the College, the senior team is prepared to implement the following actions during the spring semester:
  • Terminate Sustained Dialogues Initiative. (#2)

Lead: Denise Nelson Nash, Vice President and Secretary of the Board of Trustees

Action: This program has been suspended. The College will identify alternative programs for students to acquire skills, at all stages of dialogue development, to engage in strategic questioning.

  • Policy of accommodations for students that experience racial-based trauma. (#7)

Lead: Amy Marcus-Newhall, Interim President

The College’s existing Discrimination and Harassment policy outlines a process for investigating and responding to students who report experiencing harassment or violence based upon race, ethnicity, color, religion, or other protected characteristics. The procedures and interim measures available under the policy contemplate that, in applicable cases, professors would be notified of the student’s need for additional consideration or accommodations.

Action: We will ensure that the discrimination and harassment policy reporting process is clearly communicated to students.

  • Provide sustainable funding for the First Generation program. (#8)

Leads: Charlotte Johnson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students; Michael Archibald, Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Action: The College has committed additional funding to the First Generation program for the current year and will allocate additional funding for the 2016-17 academic year. The First Gen program was added as a giving option for donors. We will continue to make the First Generation program a funding priority going forward.

  • Provide living wages to staff. (#11)

Lead: Dean Calvo, Vice President for Business Affairs/Treasurer

Action: The College pays all of its employees wage rates that exceed the living wage for California, and will continue to do so.

  1. We support and commit to pursuing the following items and developing an implementation plan pending additional analysis of the potential impact and/or engagement of other constituencies.
  • Appoint a Vice President of Institutional. (#1)

Lead: Amy Marcus-Newhall, Interim President

This proposal needs a comprehensive engagement of the College’s stakeholders to discuss the extensive impact on the organizational structure, budget, and overarching approach to diversity and inclusion. Furthermore, we believe that the new president should determine the appropriate composition of the senior team. However, we will move forward with additional staffing for next year to begin to address this need.

Action: We commit to add a half-time position that will augment the work of the Vice President/Secretary of the Board of Trustees, whose portfolio of responsibilities includes monitoring the development and implementation of innovative strategies that lead to enhanced and sustainable diversity and inclusion at Scripps, and also supplement the work of the SCORE office. The position will be responsible for creating and implementing programming and education to increase an awareness and support for underrepresented groups, collaborate with key stakeholders, and foster relationships with strategic partners and diversity groups, both on campus and externally.

Next steps: I have directed Vice President Denise Nelson Nash and Vice President and Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson to allocate resources and develop a position description reflecting the above goals. Additionally, we will look more closely at the HMC Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity to inform our thinking about this new position.

  • Reinstate mandatory anti-oppression trainings facilitated by Antoinette Myers. (#3)

Lead: Denise Nelson Nash, Vice President and Secretary of the Board of Trustees

Action: The College will continue to offer and enhance the existing plan to provide ongoing anti-oppression trainings. Student trainings will be offered in the spring, and we have been in contact with Antoinette Myers. Faculty have begun to discuss this and have a date set in January to begin the plan of action for faculty workshops. Staff trainings will be offered in the spring and through the summer.

Next step: The decision to mandate these trainings/workshops will require the engagement of staff and faculty leadership as well as a legal analysis.

  • Develop policy outlining disciplinary consequences for students, faculty, and staff who commit racist acts of violence. (#5)

Lead: Charlotte Johnson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

 The College’s existing Discrimination and Harassment policy provides for investigation of racial discrimination or harassment and the imposition of sanctions against those found responsible for violating the policy.

Action: The Dean of Students is developing a bias incident protocol that ensures accountability and education for individuals who engage in racist behavior.

Next steps: This draft policy has been shared with a few students, who provided important feedback. We will incorporate that feedback into a revised document, which will be shared with additional students in January. Upon completion, we will schedule a community forum to educate the community about the new protocol. The implementation plan will include the following:

  • Clarifying at orientation our expectations for our community as those expectations relate to racism and other forms of bias;
  • Ensuring that the protocol is included in NSP and RA training;
  • Including the protocol in the Guide to Student Life; and
  • Coordinating the protocol with processes under Title IX, Title VI and other policies where there may be overlap.
  • Hire an on-campus therapist experienced in healing and processing racial-based trauma. (#6)

Lead: Charlotte Johnson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Action: Because mental health services are provided to Scripps students by Monsour as a 5C resource, we will advocate for Monsour to hire therapists with expertise in racial trauma and violence. Scripps currently has a co-pay initiative in place through the end of the academic year, with a list of providers that is intentionally racially and ethnically diverse.

Next steps: We will inquire as to whether Monsour has a therapist with racial-based trauma on staff, and if not, as Interim President, I will bring forward to the Council of Presidents a proposal to consider hiring a therapist with race-based trauma expertise at Monsour. Over the summer we will evaluate the effectiveness of the co-pay initiative as a supplement to the services provided by Monsour. We also will inquire about the possibility of Monsour therapists conducting sessions on Scripps campus on a regular schedule.

  • Remove SAT/ACT scores from the admission process. (#9)

Leads: Victoria Romero, Vice President for Enrollment; Julie Liss, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty

Action: We will seek input from the Office of Admission, as well as the faculty, of the potential impact of optional standardized test scores on student success and academic ranking. Based on those reports, the Vice President of Enrollment, in consultation with the new president, will submit a recommendation to the Board of Trustees for consideration.

Next steps: I will request an analysis of the impact of making standardized test scores optional from the faculty and the Office of Admission by the end of the spring semester.

  • Increase scholarship and support for more than one undocumented/DACAmented student at least every three years. (#13)

Lead: Victoria Romero, Vice President for Enrollment; Michael Archibald, Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Action: We support providing designated need-based aid for undocumented students and will evaluate the impact of such grants on the financial aid budget every three years.

Next steps: I will request an analysis of the options and impact of establishing need-based aid for undocumented students.

  • The senior team is not prepared to move forward on the following items at this time:
  • Forum for students to meet with presidential candidates. (#10)

Lead: Amy Marcus-Newhall, Interim President

The Board-appointed presidential search committee has determined that the search must remain confidential to ensure the College’s ability to attract the highest-caliber candidates. The search committee will not hold campus forums for finalists. However, we commit to ensure the new president has an opportunity to meet with students after appointment to gain an understanding of the needs and priorities of marginalized students.

Action: The issue of institutional racism will be incorporated into the candidates’ interviews. I will work with the Presidential Search Committee to convene a forum for the new president to meet with students as soon as practicable after appointment.

  • Stop contracting with Sodexo. (#11)

Lead: Dean Calvo, Vice President for Business Affairs/Treasurer

Fewer than 10 individuals are employed by Sodexo; the vast majority of the College’s dining services and facilities staff are Scripps employees. The College does not have a policy of disqualifying contractors based on their client or investment portfolio.

Action: No action recommended.

The following demands fall outside of the purview of the senior leadership team.

Faculty:

At the December 10, 2015, faculty meeting, I presented these items to the faculty members and asked them to develop a response.

  • Revamp the Core I curriculum. (#4)
  • Establish intercollegiate departments for indigenous studies and disability studies. (#12)
  • Lead: Julie Liss, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty

Action: The faculty have met and established working groups on these items. The Core theme is revised every three years, with a new theme currently being developed by the Core I faculty for 2016-18. Professor YouYoung Kang, the Core I Director, plans to discuss the process with students. 

Consortium

The senior team cannot repeal this policy because it is a 7C policy.

  • Repeal the 7C demonstration policy. (#14)

Lead: Amy Marcus-Newhall, Interim President; Charlotte Johnson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Action: I will work with the Council of Presidents to craft a demonstration policy that protects community members’ right to protest without precluding the College from conducting business. A Claremont Colleges student working group has been formed with two student representatives from each college. Additionally, members of the Scripps faculty are developing a response to the policy that will be presented to the faculty as a whole in January. Staff have been provided a website to provide their thoughts and recommendations. These responses will be provided to the Vice Presidents for Student Affairs committee who will make a recommendation to the Council of Presidents.

Board of Trustees

The senior team cannot make this change because it is a Board of Trustees decision.

  • Make the Board of Trustees Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion a standing committee. (#1)
  • Lead: Denise Nelson Nash, Vice President and Secretary of the Board of Trustees

Action: The Board of Trustees has committed to evaluate the structure and expand the charge of the Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusivity.  

I expect our discussions about ending institutional racism at Scripps College to continue throughout the spring semester and beyond as we work with the President’s Advisory Committee on Inclusivity and Diversity (PACDI) to address not only the above demands but also the recommendations and proposed actions presented to the Board of Trustees Student Affairs Committee, those presented to Interim President Marcus-Newhall, and those developed by the members of PACDI. I have attached for your information a comprehensive list of demands, recommendations, and proposals to address institutional racism that have been submitted to the senior team and the Board of Trustees to date.

I know that many students, faculty, and staff are aware of your demands and interested in the administration’s response, so in the interest of transparency I will distribute this letter to the broader campus community as well.

To ensure accountability for the above actions, I’m committing to providing semesterly status reports to the Scripps community on our progress implementing proposed actions, to provide a quarterly report on the same to the Board of Trustees, and to maintain past reports on the Inclusion Diversity Equity and Access (IDEA) website. Vice President for Marketing and Communications, Binti Harvey, will assume responsibility for this reporting effort.

I look forward to making progress on action items and continuing our dialogue as a community in 2016.

Sincerely,

Amy Marcus-Newhall

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