Equity, Inclusion, and Antiracism Work at Bates: Report on Progress and Planning
The work of equity, inclusion, and antiracism is central to achieving our core mission of providing an education that is meant to transform lives. No student can learn and grow and realize their full potential unless they are seen and valued, and in turn feel that they belong at Bates and Bates belongs to them. This only happens if we are willing to question, and modify, our inherited norms in what and how we teach, in how we see and portray ourselves as an institution, and in how we organize and support all aspects of college life.
With these considerations in mind, our plan for this year is to continue to make progress on two parallel tracks. First, we will press forward with work in areas where efforts are underway and staff or faculty leadership is in place. This work includes, for example, student support through the OIE, and curricular transformation and inclusive pedagogy in STEM, the humanities, and the social sciences.
Second, we will undertake a structured process of outreach and consultation with the campus community and outside experts to identify an overall approach to leadership and staffing on issues of equity, inclusion, and antiracism that will achieve greater continuity and effectiveness for the college as a whole. The consultative process will begin in the next two to three weeks, and will include students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni leaders, outside experts, and colleagues at other institutions. The purpose of the consultation process is to clarify the work ahead and develop effective approaches and staffing to deliver on the work.
Our goal in all of this work is to disrupt the structures of oppression, exclusion, and marginalization that persist in the college’s policies, practices, and culture and make Bates a place where not only our students, but all members of the community, are invited to full participation and belonging. We will only succeed in making progress toward this goal if this undertaking is understood to be the collective work of the entire Bates community.
The paragraphs below outline in more detail our current work and the goals of the consultation process. We are eager to have broad participation and input from the Bates community.
Maintaining Momentum on Existing Efforts
We will continue to press forward with our equity and inclusion work across the college in areas where we have staff or faculty leadership in place, or can engage outside expertise or resources to assist us in targeted ways. This work includes:
- Student support and programming, through the Office of Intercultural Education (OIE) and Student Affairs. Three new staff members joined the OIE this past summer. Additionally, Tonya Bailey-Curry, a current staff member in Counseling and Psychological Services, who also serves as Director of Special Projects in Student Affairs, is devoting a portion of her project-based work to the OIE, including overseeing the Bobcat First program. Meanwhile, searches are underway to hire an additional Assistant Dean and an Associate Dean/Director of the OIE.
- Work on curricular transformation and inclusive pedagogy in: STEM, funded through a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; the humanities and humanistic social sciences, funded through a grant from the Mellon Foundation; and the social sciences, funded by the college.
- A call by the Dean of the Faculty for all departments and programs to undertake serious analysis of their approach to curriculum and instruction in their fields as part of a commitment to inclusive pedagogical practice. This work will extend over the next two years, and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty will assist academic units in identifying and engaging disciplinary experts from outside Bates who can help academic departments and programs chart a path forward.
- A plan for faculty consideration of a curricular requirement that all students at Bates engage substantively with issues of race, racism, power, and privilege. A Curricular Working Group, composed of five faculty and five students, worked throughout the winter semester of 2021 to develop a proposal for a requirement. The Academic Affairs Council is crafting a plan for faculty discussion of the recommendations beginning this fall.
- Continuing work by the Board of Trustees’ Committee on Equity, Inclusion, and Antiracism that was established as a standing committee of the board in the fall of 2020. This committee is charged with serving as a strategic partner in the college’s efforts to cultivate and maintain a Bates community that is welcoming, equitable, inclusive, and antiracist.
- Providing education and training on issues of equity and inclusion, as needed or requested in different areas of the college, drawing on outside experts to assist us in providing meaningful and appropriate opportunities.
- Support for an Employee Resource Group, already underway, to provide opportunities for self-identified BIPOC faculty and staff across the college to establish connections and foster community.
- Building community among underrepresented racial, ethnic, LGBTQ+, first-generation to college, and international alumni through Bates Alumni MOSAIC (BAM). BAM was developed in 2015 through a collaboration between the Office of Alumni Engagement and the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
Outreach and Consultation
While the work described above is ongoing, we will undertake a structured and intensive process of outreach and consultation with the campus community, trustees, and alumni leaders, as well as with outside experts and colleagues at other institutions. This approach will allow us to enter the search for a new leader on issues of equity and inclusion with greater clarity and specificity about the work to be done and how we should organize ourselves to achieve more sustained effectiveness across the college.
Specifically, the goals of the consultation effort are to:
- Identify the differing needs of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees so that we can proceed expeditiously to create and fill the positions needed to move the work forward with respect to individual constituencies.
- Develop an organizational model that balances a distributed approach to the needs of individual constituencies with leadership at the institutional level.
- Build trust, through an open and thorough consultation process, with campus and alumni communities.
- Create a culture that fosters an iterative cycle of development, assessment, and adaptation as we work to make progress on these issues.
Focus of Inquiry
The consultation process within the campus community will aim to:
- Solicit views about the challenges we face in achieving a college community that more fully embodies the values of equity, inclusion, antiracism, and belonging.
- Identify the needs and desires of individual constituencies within the campus community.
- Understand the range of thinking within the Bates community about what has worked well, less well, or not at all, in the past.
- Invite ideas for how we can be more effective in our approaches within individual areas, departments, and programs.
We will consult with experts in relevant fields of knowledge, as well as colleagues at institutions doing exemplary work, regarding:
- Key challenges and opportunities on issues of equity, inclusion, and antiracism.
- Effective strategies for meeting these challenges.
- Targeted approaches for different constituencies.
- A range of organizational and staffing models.
We will collect data and conduct analysis as appropriate.
Launching the Process
Gwen Lexow, Director of Title IX and Civil Rights Compliance, and Tonya Bailey-Curry, Staff Therapist in Counseling and Psychological Services and Director of Special Projects in Student Affairs, have agreed to serve as staff to this process to design and organize the outreach and consultation. We plan to use a combination of focus groups; meetings with existing groups, committees, or departments within the college; and open meetings. We expect to schedule initial sessions within the next two to three weeks.
Expressions of Interest
We welcome suggestions and ideas from everyone in the Bates community about how to make this process as fruitful as possible. If you have an interest in participating in the process as a meeting facilitator or advisor, please let us know, including a brief statement of your expertise and/or the particular reason for your interest. Please send thoughts, inquiries, or expressions of interest to email@example.com.