In a recent meeting between the Undergraduate Government of Boston College and the administration, members of the two groups discussed revamping programming, creating a bias response protocol, and expanding training for students and staff in efforts to create a more inclusive environment at BC for students.
Thomas Napoli, UGBC president and MCAS ’16, James Kale, chair of UGBC’s ALC and LSOE ’16, and Afua Laast, vice president of UGBC’s diversity and inclusion branch and LSOE ’17, met with Vice President of Student Affairs Barbara Jones and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Thomas Mogan to discuss the proposal UGBC drafted, titled “Towards a More Inclusive Community.”
“The University is attentive to hiring for diversity, and continues diligent and focused recruiting efforts in what is a very competitive environment. Vice presidents and deans are accountable for these efforts within the University.”
-Vice President of Student Affairs Barbara Jones
The Jan. 22 meeting followed the release of the proposal, written earlier this year after UGBC received feedback from some students of color that they do not feel at home at BC. UGBC has been working with the administration to institute the action plan over the last few months, and asked that it be prepared by Tues., Jan. 19., but the request went unmet. The goal of the working proposal was to create an equal home at BC for all of the members of the community. Many of the requests highlighted in the document were discussed, including a bias response protocol and an expanded diversity training. UGBC’s request for a vice president for institutional diversity, however, was denied, at this point.
According to Jones, in the meeting the administration discussed revamping the Mosaic program based on assessment and feedback obtained from this pilot-year launch of the program. She also said that they spoke about expanding training for students and staff involved in educational efforts on diversity and inclusion, and introducing through Human Resources a new online module on harassment for faculty and staff.
Jones said that a review of a bias response protocol for students is ongoing, which will provide opportunities to address issues raised in UGBC’s working proposal.
“The University will not stand still on these important issues and is committed to making BC the most welcoming and inclusive community possible,” Jones said in the email.
Instead of adding a vice president for institutional diversity, the administration plans to focus on utilizing existing programs and committees, according to Jones. She said that the efforts to become a more welcoming and inclusive community are and must be collective, with responsibility shared by all members of the community. Jones said that the University has been assessing the charter and role of the Diversity Steering Committee (DSC) through the leadership of the Office of Institutional Diversity (OID) and has made the recommendation to add two students, appointed by UGBC, to the committee beginning in the fall of 2016.
“This is an important step in better engaging students in University diversity and inclusion efforts,” Jones said in the email. “Further, the results of the faculty and staff experience survey initiated by Human Resources during the fall semester, and the upcoming summit on diversity, will provide more information for the DSC to consider.”
In the meeting, the students were updated on both their old and new efforts to address issues of race, diversity, and inclusion, according to Napoli, who also said that they were better able to understand the work the administration has been doing with these matters. He said that the next step is engaging with the community about the virtue of these steps, and that they will be working with the administration to schedule a public meeting.
“Hopefully this will lead to better implementation of these steps and if necessary, further goals we can continue to work on,” Napoli said in an email.
Jones expressed the administration’s appreciation for the concerns raised by UGBC and the ongoing dialogue surrounding issues of inclusion.
“Racism is a matter of concern for all of society, and maintaining an inclusive community where all students can thrive is a steadfast commitment of Boston College,” Jones said in an email.
Jones said that the Friday meeting was helpful in better understanding the concerns of UGBC, and that the meeting afforded the administration an opportunity to communicate the efforts of the University to address issues of race, diversity, and inclusion. Jones noted that during the past two decades, BC’s enrollment of AHANA students has doubled from 15 percent to 30 percent. During this same time period, the AHANA percentage of tenured faculty has risen to 20 percent, and 23 percent of director-level positions in the Division of Student Affairs are AHANA, she said.
“The University is attentive to hiring for diversity, and continues diligent and focused recruiting efforts in what is a very competitive environment,” Jones said in the email. “Vice presidents and deans are accountable for these efforts within the University.”
In addition to recruitment and retention efforts, Jones recognized that the document included clauses regarding education, programming, climate, and support efforts. In the meeting, Jones said that the administration highlighted the new core curriculum pilot courses—Complex Problems and Enduring Questions—which are meant to allow for the opportunity to explore questions on race and justice. Jones said that the new Core Renewal Committee is also exploring BC’s current cultural diversity requirement.
Jones encouraged UGBC to draw upon the resources of Student Affairs and engage with individual vice presidents on programs within their areas. She said that the discussions with these other vice presidents will help to clarify additional concerns where the group may not have adequate information or understanding.
“We look forward to continuing the thoughtful and challenging dialogue around creating a more inclusive community,” Jones said in the email.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor