Thursday, August 16, 2018

SGA Addresses New Diversity VP, Hate Crimes, and Night Classes

EMMELINE ENDRESEN ’21

STAFF WRITER

On Sunday, March 25, Professor of Political Science Stefanie Chambers, Chaplain Allison Read, and Multicultural Affairs Committee (MAC) Chair Brandon Herrera ’19, met with the Student Government Association (SGA) to discuss the next Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Ms. Chambers, Ms. Read, and Mr. Herrera are all members of the search committee for the new Vice President.

Ms. Chambers and Ms. Read stated that the selection process for this new position is underway and the vetting of candidates will begin over the next few weeks. The new candidate will begin work on July 1 of this year and will be equipped to direct the program by the fall of 2018. This position will be different than the office currently held by Karla Spurlock-Evans as the Dean of Multicultural Affairs. While Ms. Evans oversees the Office of Multicultural Affairs, she works mostly with students rather than the administration. The new Vice President will be able to interact with institutional concerns and work on all aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. He or she will also ideally work more closely with faculty on key diversity issues. Some anticipated policy goals include looking at the classroom climate of diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as diversity in college operations and employment practices. Further, it was suggested that the Vice President will be in a good position to coordinate the community’s efforts to engage in and discuss these issues.

SGA Vice President Molly Schineller ’18 expressed concern over the distribution of information to the school following hate crimes. She expressed a concern that the student body hears about such hate crimes in a delayed way and without much discussion of repercussions for the perpetrators. She argued that this does not send the message that anything bad will happen to someone who commits such a crime and that students should be aware of the punishments. Ms. Read agreed that this is a widely expressed feeling and noted that the law prohibits the disclosure of what the punishment for a particular instance is, so they are unable to send emails with that kind of information. That being said, she hoped that the new Vice President will have innovative ideas on how to address that issue.

One suggestion that an SGA member had was to extensively research other schools and their policies, as well as to look at their records of hate crimes so as to have a benchmark for measuring our own attentiveness to the issue. Ms. Chambers also said that this new type of position is one that is becoming commonplace across the country and therefore that it might be a good idea to have this person interact and work with people in similar stations at different schools.

First-Year Senator Brendan Clark ’21 thereafter spoke to SGA on behalf of the Curriculum Committee to review a new proposal for night classes. Music, Theatre, and Dance put in a request that evening classes be limited to two nights a week so as to create more available time for auditions and rehearsals. Currently there are very few times to hold auditions other than weekends as it is difficult to find a block of time that works for everyone. The same goes for rehearsals, especially for those held in the week directly preceding a show where there is a lot of work to be done. SGA representatives expressed support, noting that such a change would also benefit athletes and members of clubs that meet in the evening. While they have not yet put forward a formal proposal, night classes would likely be held either on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays.

One concern expressed by students was that undue burdens may be placed on professors, as many teach night classes as they have other day jobs. This, in turn, may have an effect on the number of classes offered. Nevertheless, the proposal noted that the Learning Space Committee has reviewed this issue and sees it as a positive change. Learning Space has affirmed that there is plenty of classroom capacity and also sees the potential for significant classroom repairs if more buildings are unoccupied two days a week.

The following corrections were submitted for additional clarification following the publication of this article in print on Mar. 27 and are printed here for the edification of the readership: 

1. Ms. Chambers did not suggest that Dean Spurlock-Evan’s is presently not engaged in the administrative affairs of the school. Rather, “Dean Spurlock-Evans is a member of the President’s Cabinet and is a central part of the administration.”

2. Ms. Chambers did not suggest that the new position would entail “interact [ing] and work [ing] with people in similar stations at different schools” but, rather, that the new Vice President would “be aware of best practices at other institutions and have the ability to help guide us based on these practices and the literature in the field.”

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