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Update to Campus About Anti-racism Work

A message from President Suzanne Rivera

Dear Macalester Community,

In June, I wrote to provide information about anti-racism work to be undertaken by Macalester with the understanding that our summer would have to be focused on transforming the campus to re-open more safely in September. We accomplished the goal of opening the campus and this community has come together admirably to keep each other safer despite the continuing pain inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the same time, many individuals and groups at Macalester have continued advancing initiatives to increase equity and inclusion on our campus, and to reduce racism and social inequality in the Twin Cities and around the world. While much of that work has been done by students and faculty, I write today to provide updates on a few of the initiatives that are underway within the college’s administrative divisions and offices. 

1. In support of Mac’s commitment to educational access, diversity, inclusion, and other dimensions of equity in higher education, I am pleased to announce that we are joining with the other members of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) to launch a collaborative anti-racism initiative. By pursuing this initiative together and leveraging the power of the consortial approach, the ACM colleges will develop infrastructure, access resources and expertise, and coordinate collective efforts that can have a much greater and more positive impact on our communities than Macalester could achieve alone. Working with our ACM peers and through the ACM office, we will take additional steps to address the institutional and structural forms of racism that have contributed to the differential experiences and outcomes for our communities of color: students, faculty, and staff.

Accordingly, we will launch these three targeted activities during the 2020-2021 academic year: 

  • Professional Development for Faculty, Staff, and Administrative Leadership: Early sessions during the fall semester/term will focus on microaggressions, inclusive discourse, and culturally responsive student mentorship. A full roster of proposed workshop topics is available here.
  • Community Building: The ACM office will build cohorts and enhance well-being among communities of color across and between our campuses. For faculty and staff, the ACM will host a series of virtual convenings, organized around topics identified by the colleges. The ACM  also will coordinate with campus-based multicultural/intercultural centers to create convenings for student affinity groups across our campuses.
  • Data Collection and Analysis: The ACM office will coordinate with the 14 ACM member colleges to identify and understand past and current institutional practices that have created disparate impact among communities of color. This will be accomplished through an inventory of existing practices and through gathering and analysis of data to illuminate the landscape for racial equity across ACM campuses.

ACM also launched a new section of its website, dedicated to these new consortial collaborations. The URL is www.acm.edu/diversity

2. In addition to the Minnesota Opportunity Scholarship Fund introduced in July, the Macalester Fund’s new Racial Equity Support designation allows donors to support Mac’s work toward a more just and equitable campus and world. Funds will be granted to projects through an application process open to students, faculty, and staff members. This new giving designation was sparked by community interest and outreach, and was named and developed in partnership with an advisory group of students, faculty, staff, and alumni of color.

3. The job of the Title IX Coordinator has been expanded to include serving as a point person for Mac staff who have concerns about racial or ethnic bias, harassment, and discrimination.  Effective immediately, Regina Curran’s new title will be Title IX Coordinator and Nondiscrimination Officer, and she will oversee the Title IX & Sexual Misconduct Policy and the Notice of Nondiscrimination as they relate to all community members.  Reporting directly to me, she will work in partnership with Donna Maeda and Marjorie Trueblood so that all faculty, staff, and students will have designated people available to assist them with navigating bias-related concerns. She also will coordinate with Employment Services on any staff employment matters that require formal resolution.

4. The Division of Student Life has developed programming focused on the mental health of BIPOC students, such as an outreach program called “Let’s Talk” focused on creating support for students of color and members of other underrepresented groups. Also, Dana Suttles, who is a counselor in the Hamre Center, is holding Black Wellness Spaces for students throughout Modules 1 and 2.

5. The International Roundtable planning group has provided us with a variety of ways to imagine liberatory futures as we face the dual pandemics of biological disease, and anti-Blackness and racism. As we anticipate the continued need to transform how we do our work at Macalester, the Annan IGC and the Serie Center are collaborating to engage the expertise of Dr. Chavella Pittman. Starting in November, Dr. Pittman’s online workshops focused on inclusive teaching and evaluating teaching excellence will be available to faculty and staff. More information is coming soon, including several “live” kick-off events with Dr. Pittman.

There still is much important work to be done, including– but not limited to– the development of new programs for the recruitment of BIPOC faculty and underrepresented students of color. I will continue to send periodic updates on our progress. In the meantime, if you have thoughts or ideas about what more Macalester can do to advance our equity and inclusion goals, please feel free to write to me directly at president@macalester.edu.

September 16, 2020