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Update on Racial Justice Work

A message from President Suzanne Rivera

Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Earlier this week, the college shared this announcement about being a founding member of the Liberal Arts College Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA). This work is part of our broader commitment as an institution to racial equity.

In June, I shared with you the college’s commitment to racial justice and my plan to advance that work. Today, I’m sharing an update with you on our racial justice work.

In addition to co-founding LACRELA, the college has taken these steps:

  • We have made a number of changes to support students with underrepresented identities. Dana Suttles has accepted a new role as Mental Health Counselor, BIPOC Support Coordinator. In this new position, Dana will do more community-level work related to BIPOC student mental health. In addition, the Hamre Center will add a full-time Mental Health Counselor with expertise in mental health care for students with one or more underrepresented identities: BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, international students, and/or first-generation. We also will add wellness programming centering the needs of BIPOC/underrepresented students as a part of our Health Promotion movement classes. In addition to our Weight Lifting for Women of Color class, we are seeking an additional facilitator for a movement class centering BIPOC students. In partnership with the DML, we also will offer dance spaces focused on BIPOC/underrepresented student support.  
  • We are in the process of forming new employee identity collectives. The formation of these groups is based on responses to a survey in which members of the community shared their desire for this kind of support. The groups are being developed through a partnership between the Department of Multicultural Life and Employment Services. Additional information will be shared soon in Mac Daily.
  • We will soon initiate a new equity purchasing initiative to encourage the allocation of college resources to women-owned and minority-owned (WBE and MBE) businesses. Purchasing and Accounts Payable is developing policy language to articulate the objectives and is building tools to help college employees find and engage new supplier partners to support this initiative. As a first step, we have joined the North Central Minority Supplier Development Council (NCMSDC), an affiliate of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). This gives us access to the secure database of NMSDC certified MBE suppliers. Membership will also provide assistance with the continued development of our internal supplier diversity program and process.   
  • We are recruiting for two new faculty vacancies which will further diversify the curriculum: (1) Chair of the History department, at the Associate or Full Professor rank, with specialization in African-American history; and (2) an Assistant Professor in the American Studies department who specializes in environment and health, with an expertise in Native/Indigenous/Pacific or Chicanx/Latinx Studies.
  • We are adding to the presidential portraits displayed in Weyerhaeuser. With an eye toward equity and inclusion, the college will expand those honored with an oil portrait. At my request, archivist Ellen Holt-Werle ‘97 will charter a committee to nominate potential honorees.

There is still much more work to be done, and I look forward to continuing that work with all of you.  As always, if you have feedback or suggestions as we make progress, I invite you to contact me directly. 

November 11, 2020