Diversity task force announced

A new task force will work to create a set of recommendations on diversity and inclusion to share with President Greene by the end of the academic year. Associate Professor of Spanish Betty Sasaki and Vice President for College and Student Advancement Dan Lugo were recently named the co-chairs of the task force. Sasaki and Lugo will aim to achieve the goals that Greene discussed in a campus-wide email from February 2014: “The target of opportunity program will focus primarily on recruiting outstanding faculty from under- represented groups and will allow for a very targeted recruitment effort. This program will create new faculty positions open to all departments and programs through a competitive process as a supplement to our regular hiring process.”

Though the task force has found its leadership, the group is still in the process of working with Greene to finalize the mission statement and solidify the finer details of how the committee will go about its process.

What has been established, however, is that the task force will be composed of a mixture of members of the faculty and Administration, as well as identified student leaders. The goal of the task force, in the words of Sasaki, “is to find concrete things this college can do to get from where we are to where we want to be.” In other words, it aims to construct an educational environment that allows the College to fully adhere to, and meet, its mission.

Although there have been conversations on campus about race in the past, as well as groups tailored to specific types of smaller communities within in the College, there had yet to be a task force created to observe and analyze the variety of situations regarding diversity at Colby and how the College handles these issues. Both co-chairs agreed that this task force is going to present an “overarching institutional position taken around diversity,” for the College. The task force will address “diversity broadly defined,” from socio-economic status, to race, to sexual orientation, and more. Recommendations to the President could potentially include changes in curriculum, student life, existing policies, or admissions. Every aspect of the College, from internal to external, will be looked at.

However, the list of recommendations that the task force creates will not just be added onto existing diver- sity policies. “These are not changes that we want piled up onto the existing structure; instead, we want to open up the status-quo,” Sasaki said.

When asked whether the task force was created in response to specific issues of bias last spring, Lugo was adamant in saying that the task force was not created in “a reactive measure; instead this [task force is a] proactive measure President Greene had in mind before the bias instances that occurred last Spring,” regarding racist Yik Yak posts by community members.

Although bias incidents and issues regarding anonymous social media applications like Yik-Yak may be looked at and questioned, the creation of the task force was already in the works prior to these instances.

Ultimately, the task force is by no means the final solution to all issues of diversity at Colby. “The task force is not an end goal, per se; its purpose is [not to answer] every question. Instead this task force is designed to make recommendations that will make measureable difference…ultimately, though, this is an ongoing conversation, and this type of work needs ongoing leadership,” Lugo said. Although the task force will provide Greene with their recommendations by the end of this school year, changes in diversity will continue to be an ongoing discussion as well as an evolving topic in the campus community.

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