Things to Know – Monday, June 19, 2017

What a beautiful weekend in the San Diego region. I hope you had a lovely weekend and Father’s Day.

As noted a little over a month ago in a Things to Know, I am assembling an advisory task force on inclusion and race relations. For some reason, the words alliance, inclusion, and belonging resonate with me so that the task force name will evolve. In meeting with our SWC constituency leaders last week, we discussed the make-up of the team. The goal is to help Southwestern College work with the President to foster a college climate of respect, trust, and openness through promoting and sustaining a culture of fairness, equity, and inclusion (president’s goals).

There will be two groups, one explicitly concerned with employee issues and college culture; and one with students. Here is some thinking on the employee group composition:

Employee Group

  • Three members of the Black Alliance
  • Three members of the Chicano Latino Coalition
  • Three faculty members chosen by the Academic Senate/SCEA
  • Two members chosen by CSEA
  • One member from the confidentials
  • One member from SCCDAA
  • One administrator

Within these constituency groups, we hope to have representation from the LGBT+, ability status (DSS), veterans, Filipino/Asian, socioeconomic status, etc. The reason for not naming members is we do not have organized employee groups in these areas, although recognize we need to have all voices at the table. So, as we are trying to work through the employee focused task force, please advise me on your thoughts or if we have employee groups that represent the many diverse faculty, staff, and management. Keeping the task force at a manageable size is also important, and we want to value all voices.

The outcome of this work is hopefully an environment where difference is valued, respected, encouraged, and honored. This endeavor will not be an easy task, will require training, commitment, and time. If you are interested, please advise your constituency leader. We will hold the membership open until the end of the first week of the fall semester to accommodate summer break. This is large scale culture change for SWC, one I believe if we do not manage well, then accreditation, serving students and our community well will always be a struggle, as we expend too much energy having to deal with a lack of respect.

This proposed structure is somewhat flexible, honors the history of governance by having the various constituencies at the table and also invites existing employee groups to the table. Several staff members will also be requested to be resources.

The question I am sure you have is: what happens to the current Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee. The answer: I am not certain. The issue of inclusion and belonging is one that belongs at the President’s level, and I believe we have done a disservice to the EDI Committee by having its staffed in a department of the college. I will meet with the EDI committee, and we will discuss their role.

I will meet with our ASO President and Student Trustee to gain advice on the student alliance or task force. So, one of the areas we will explore in our new task force will be some rigorous training.

So, as we start down this road, please consider the following.

What is a microaggression?

:  a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority)

also :  behavior or speech that is characterized by such comments or actions… argues that the power of microaggression lies in its invisibility to the perpetrator, who typically finds it difficult to believe that he or she possesses biased attitudes. — Emily Skop

There is a real and worthy conversation taking place in this country now, particularly among young people, around the idea of microaggressions—slight, often unintended discriminatory comments or behaviors. — Charles M. Blow; 

Link to definition of microaggression

I watched this youtube video on Microaggressions at San Diego Mesa College this last week, and recommend viewing this.

Link to You Tube – Dr. Frank Harris and Dr. Luke Wood – Microaggressions

Here is a short NPR piece by Claude Steele, author of “Whistling Vivaldi”, a book that many years ago started me down the road of advocacy for respect, inclusion, and belonging.

Link to Claude Steele on “Whistling Vivaldi” – Stereotyping

There is no respect for others without humility in one’s self. Henri Frederic Amiel