By RAMAH ALERYAN
“We need many more CCSGA meetings like this to discuss the review. It is not a one-time thing.” With these words, Student Body President Zac Schulman ’19 concluded the student government follow-up meeting on the Anti-Racism External Review on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019.
The well-attended meeting covered topics like the proposed Power and Equity general education requirement and faculty development. In a related development, the Colorado College Office of Communications sent out an all-campus email about the next steps that the college is taking regarding the external review.
The meeting opened with the reading of a letter from the head of the Native American Student Union, Mateo Parsons ’19, who was unable to attend. Parsons sent an extended email, in which he expressed his disappointment at the scheduling of the meeting and responded to the review. Schulman read the email for the audience and apologized for the schedule conflicts.
Next, Vice President of Inclusion Cameron Mongoven ’21 opened a discussion about the Power and Equity general education requirement. The implementation of a PE credit is currently being considered by the Curriculum Executive Committee as part of the general requirement revision. There are many suggestions as to how this requirement could be made as effective as possible.
The first of two main ideas was to offer PE as one class. The second suggestion would mandate attendance of a certain number of co-curricular lectures or activities offered by the Butler Center or visiting speakers. The latter option was described as an extended format of the requirement. Mongoven also mentioned that no changes will be made to the curriculum until the 2020-21 academic year. At this time, Mongoven is unsure of the topics that would be included in the PE requirement.
Cam Kaplan ’20, the chair of the Black Student Union, highlighted several concerns about the aforementioned extended format of the PE. First, if attending co-curricular events became a requirement for graduation, would the college prevent someone from graduating if they did not go to enough events? Second, what if students signed in with their Gold Card or by writing their names on sign-in sheets and left? How can we guarantee that students are learning from those opportunities? Can we force students to go to those events? Is the classroom the only space of forced engagement and forced learning? While some suggestions were put forward, the discussion ended with even more questions.
Next addressed was the topic of faculty development, and how faculty play a role in perpetuating the burden of students of color having to educate their white peers on race issues and experiences. Lily Weissgold ’19, vice president of the CCSGA Outreach Committee, mentioned that it is extremely hard to change anything about the curriculum because “Faculty are not taking the time to understand the proposals and [are] adding on things that are unproductive and unhelpful.”
She added that it is difficult to ask students to hold faculty accountable because students are not allowed into faculty meetings. Weissgold does not have a definitive answer on how students can pressure professors to vote differently.
One of the recommendations of the report is to incentivize departments to hire more faculty of color. One attendee of the meeting questioned whether this might perpetuate tokenizing. Mongoven addressed this concern, saying it is important to incentivize departments to hire more faculty of color because faculty of color are likely to drop out after couple of years at the college. “It is not necessarily incentivizing to tokenize, but incentivizing to create a culture where there is more representation,” said Mongoven. It is an important step toward becoming an anti-racist institution.
Last May, Colorado College announced funds to support tenure-track positions to diversify the faculty. Three positions were approved in the sociology, history, and film and media studies departments, respectively. The first two searches are finished and the third is underway. Furthermore, as suggested in the initial report, Provost Alan Townsend and Dean of the Faculty Sandi Wong are now accepting proposals for post-tenure hires that would further diversify CC faculty and curriculum.
As announced on the first day of Block 6, CC is scheduling consultations by seven specialists over the spring semester to focus on curricula, student life, admissions, governance, accountability, faculty development, classroom climate, faculty diversity, difficult dialogues, and the chief diversity officer. These consultants will visit campus over the remainder of this academic year to identify ways to improve. More information is available on the CC website under the Office of the President page.
Finally, the Butler Center has initiated its fifth-year external review in continuation of its strategic anti-racism initiative in diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Additionally, the faculty are carefully considering the initial report as they move forward with the general education review and revision.