NESCACs focus on inclusion policies, face setbacks

This week, the NESCAC delivered many examples of colleges working through barriers to create more inclusive communities.
At Wesleyan University, according to a report in the Argus, the University’s Equity Task Force held a student forum to “solicit student feedback about the findings and recommendations put forth in its interim report.” Both faculty and students run the task force, which was created as a result of the demands put forward by the school’s recent “Is This Why” movement.

The interim report that was conducted by Wesleyan’s task force in mid-February concluded that while the University has made “multiple attempts to address issues of difference and racial tensions…the same problems keep occurring,” according to the Equity@Wesleyan web page. The most prominent recommendation made in the report was for the creation of an “integrative educational experience” through a physical center. Per the University’s recommendation, according to the Argus, the task force discussed the physical space at the student forum, noting that there is difficulty with “acquiring faculty involvement and making the Center a place of tangible meaning rather than just an empty space.”

At Tufts University, Joshua Allen, a black transgender organizer, and CeCe McDonald, a black transgender activist who sat on a Colby panel in 2014 for Transgender November, spoke to a large crowd about their identities and adversities, according to the Daily. The talk was part of their #BlackExcellenceTour and addressed issues of ally-ship and how “Black trans bodies are left out of conversations about black power,” said McDonald. Allen and McDonald were brought to the Somerville campus by the Tufts Queer Students Association, the LGBT Center, Loving Ourselves as Queer Students of Color in Action, Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine, the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program, the International Relations program, the Peace and Justice Studies Program, and the Consortium of Studies in Race, Colonialism and Diaspora.

In the same vein of making progress, Bates College administrators sent a campus-wide email to students on March 9, encouraging them to fill out an anonymous survey to “assess the climate around sexual violence and sexual harassment around campus, so as to make a change and progress,” according to an article in the Student. Bates was recently given a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for a four-year sexual violence prevention curriculum. Much like what is done on Colby’s campus, Bates looks to implement an increasingly sophisticated program that “encourages bystander intervention, broad advocacy, and student leadership in the prevention of sexual violence,” according to a comment from Bates Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Josh McIntosh, given to the Student.

The new initiative at Bates hopes to be all-inclusive and plans to hold workshops and college-wide events on masculinity and male victims of sexual assault.

While colleges and universities are making strides to promote inclusion in every sense, events on reported March 11 at Tufts show that that mission still faces challenges. According to an article in the Daily, at least four sexual assault cases occurred over a single February weekend in just one campus zone. Students were notified via email of certain details of the alleged assaults, per a mandate in the federal Clery Act, which outlines disclosure procedures for campus security departments all around the country. Though there have not been further communications regarding specifics or disciplinary actions related to the instances of assault, students have noted an elevated police presence near certain residence halls to the Daily.

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