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Diversity Committee Minutes for September 2013

Faculty Senate Diversity Committee Meeting

Sept 18, 2013

Present: Alejandro Leguizamo; Jason Jacobs; Kerry Ulluci; Jennifer Campbell; Rupayan Gupta; Yolanda Scott; Avelina Espinosa

Start time: 3pm

Before the agenda:

DISCUSSION OF MEMBERSHIP ISSUES:

Discussion of voting v. non-voting membership and representation; process of populating the committee; structures of authority, control, agenda-setting.

AL will clarify in terms of HPA representation and at-large senators—who do they represent?

Can non-voting members chair sub-committees?

Do the processes and structures of authority currently in place allow this committee to effectively carry out its agenda?

This committee needs a sense of continuity in order to accomplish its goals; we shouldn’t be starting from scratch every year.

People should join in if they feel passionate, but beyond passion we need theorized intellectual work and expertise.  The “Many Faces of RWU” exhibit currently up in GHH is problematic because it limits smart thinking about diversity by assuming diversity can be fully represented visually.

Senate elections can self-replicate current power structures in a problematic way:  some people with intellectual expertise in an area related to diversity are excluded from leadership positions because of the current process of election from senate and division representation.  People with intellectual expertise should be able to play a larger role is setting agendas.

Agenda Items

3a.CDO Description:  we have a shortened version AL will resend to the committee.

3b:  By Laws:  Vision and Assessment Process

We need to create a vision of our goals, how to assess them and how to build recommendations from them—again to help with continuity.

We don’t really have by-laws.  We should be able to make our own.

3c:  Mission Statement

The committee currently has a weak mission statement; we need to strengthen it.

We should not just “monitor” activities, but we should have a more active role in guiding those activities and being an active resource for the faculty.

We need a stronger connection to Student Life, which is usually represented in this committee’s meetings.

Proposed activities:

Could we have a fall faculty conference devoted to student success and retention.  Often times, we have good students, some of whom are from underrepresented groups, transfer out of RWU.  Given the state of higher education, we need to address this issue directly in order to ensure good retention and graduation rates.

Could we create summer courses for students to attend before their first year?  Could we create a mentoring system?

We need a balance between academic freedom and some sort of oversight:  students want a mechanism through which to report faculty abuse/insensitivity.

Faculty cluelessness is a choice; self-education is a responsibility.

Students have shared comments made by faculty linking RWU students to terrorist attacks; committee members shared comments about students asking why racist slurs are not allowed in class (why their comment was offensive).

Students often feel disempowered in the classroom. How can we activate them?

Faculty are not sure how to confront difficult issues around diversity in the classrooms.

The president has called for a student-centered teaching; flipped classrooms can be good for all since students interact with one another to a much greater extent and learn from one another through discussions and project-based learning.

What kind of culture do we want to be?  And what problem are we trying to fix?  We need to articulate these.

Are there ways our students can talk about diversity without only talking to students already interested in it?
3d.  Discussion of Student Petition for a Diversity-Related course

What can be done with the student petition for a mandated core course?  Can there be an Introduction to Human Diversity course that has academic integrity?  Can course indexing be on-going rather than one-and-done?

AL is meeting with student representatives from the Diversity Leadership Program on 9/18/13 to discuss their petition.

Adjourned at 4:45

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