Chief Diversity Officer (CDO)
I’ve had the title of vice president for equity and inclusion since my first day on the job Feb. 1. Even before the vice presidential title was added to the position, the CDO was a designed as a direct report to the president. As such, I am a member of the president’s senior staff and also meet with the president regularly.
Before my arrival at Oxy, in response to one of the November 2015 demands, the CDO’s budget was doubled. I used some of that budget to provide gap funding for the student Diversity and Equity Board until the DEB student body fee kicked in at the start of the 2016-17 academic year. I’ve also helped fund summer research in STEM best practices; the Angela Davis lecture last February; Joshua Allen’s workshop as part of Gaypril; the play "What to Send Up When It Goes Down"; and this month’s screening of Wah.shka.
As part of the College’s commitment to the continued existence of Oxy’s Office of Intercultural Affairs, last November the ICA’s annual budget was doubled, from $13,000 to $26,000. Harambee is officially associated with ICA and has an assigned programming budget. One of the program assistants in the ICA is a member of Harambee to insure that the group has access to me and the resources of the Intercultural Community Center.
Black Studies Program
Under Oxy’s system of shared governance, curricular issues – including the process of developing a Black Studies program -- are under the purview of faculty. American Studies hired two new professors, Courtney Baker (former director of the Africana Studies program at Connecticut College) and Erica Ball (former chair of Cal State Fullerton’s African-American Studies Department) to help guide the new program’s development. As the Occidental Weekly reported last month, the exact nature of the program hasn’t yet been determined, but professors Baker and Ball expect it will be interdisciplinary in nature. Meanwhile, the two professors will offer a total of four new courses this spring dealing with African-American literature, film, race and popular culture, and race and fashion.
In response to student demands, the First Year Residential Education (FYRE) program has been discontinued. Important elements of the program were incorporated into this year’s Orientation program; there was no required course for first-year students this fall. A Faculty-Student Working Group has been formed and is engaged in a wide-ranging discussion of a reconceptualized Core Program. A definitive timeline for the completion of this review has not yet been established.
Tenured Faculty of Color
Thanks to outstanding work by faculty hiring committees, seven of eight new tenure-track faculty welcomed to Oxy this fall were scholars of color, including four African-American women and one African-American man (who will join us in fall 2017). Scholars of color now make up 30 percent of tenure-track faculty (53 of 179 faculty). New protocols have been developed for the faculty Affirmative Action Committee, and hiring practices are under review to more effectively utilize the committee and the develop a role for the CDO. Job searches for another five tenure-track faculty positions are now underway.
In keeping with the May 2 recommendations of the Campus Safety Advisory Committee, Campus Safety now reports to Amos Himmelstein, vice president and chief operating officer. A Campus Safety Committee has been established with student, faculty and staff representation that meets regularly. I am a member of that committee, which is currently working with Campus Safety to develop an online complaint form to appear on the revised Campus Safety website. A citation appeal committee that includes staff and students also has been formed. This summer, I conducted training for all Campus Safety officers. Campus Safety participated in 2016 Orientation, tabling in the Quad to introduce its officers and services to first years. Today, if a Campus Safety officer chooses to wear a bulletproof vest in a non-emergency situation, it will be worn under the uniform or concealed under an outer layer. Campus Safety officers also have the option of keeping a vest in their vehicle and wearing it outside the uniform in a specific situation where they feel it is necessary. Additionally, in an effort to build transparency, the department now offers ride-alongs to interested community members.
Over the past nine months, Student Affairs, Campus Safety, and other staff have undergone mandatory training to better equip them to serve people from marginalized backgrounds, including sessions on gender identity, inclusive language, and how to avoid retaliation. At the same time, the Center for Teaching Excellence has offered a series of faculty workshops on such issues as "Diversity in the Science Classroom," "Diversifying Your Syllabus" and "Teaching In, Through, and With Social Movements." We plan to continue training with Campus Safety and other departments on a regular basis, and I will be following up with Rob Flot, our new vice president for student affairs and dean of students, as to how we should proceed in the best interest of our students.
Emmons Wellness Center
This fall Oxy welcomed William Jones to the Emmons Wellness staff. An African American therapist, William has started a multicultural psychodrama process group at Oxy supported by the work of Dr. Jacob Moreno. William’s academic experience and education is multifaceted. A graduate of Biola University with a degree in psychology and minor in theology, William has a master’s in clinical psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy from Pepperdine University and a doctorate from Pacifica Graduate Institute. We are better because of his presence.
Our commitment to inclusiveness is at the heart of our mission and part of the fabric of Occidental. As such, our progress should not be measured solely by response to the specific demands of last November but rather by the number of concerns we meet after continuing community conversations and discourse. However, it may be helpful for some to look at the college’s follow up to the demands and commitments made last November. A grid outlining the status and response to each demand can be found below. I think our community can be proud of the extent of the progress we’ve made.
Original Demands: 11/13/15Administration Response on 11/20/2015Summary of Action(s) Taken Since ThenLatest Status (Nov. 2016)1Immediate removal of President VeitchNo. The President is committed to addressing the critical issues of diversity and cultural sensitivity at Occidental.No further action required.No further action required.2Promotion of the chief diversity officer (CDO) to a vice president levelYes.Agreed on 11/20/15. Rhonda Brown began work February 1 as VP for equity & inclusion.COMPLETE3Increase the budget of the CDO’s office by 50 percentYes, operating budget will be increased by 50%.VP of Finance reallocated dollars on 11/25/15.COMPLETE
Funding for DEB is decided by ASOC.By student vote on 3/28/16, DEB is now funded by student body fee. CDO provided gap funding until DEB student body fee kicked in.COMPLETEICA budget will be doubled (from $13,000 to $26,000).VP of Finance reallocated dollars on 11/25/15.COMPLETE5Creation of a fully funded and staffed Black Studies program, a demand that has not been met for over 40 yearsHiring of associate professor of African American Studies is already underway. This scholar will lead the development of a new minor in Black Studies. We expect that this minor will lead to the creation of a new major.Two senior level tenure-track faculty specializing in African American Studies were hired by the American Studies department and started at Oxy in Fall 2016. This doubles the initial commitment and will help advance the process more efficiently. COMPLETE on commitment to hire new faculty. Faculty are working to define the scope and structure of the Black Studies program.6Increase the percentage of tenured faculty of color by 20 percent by the 2017-18 school year and by 100 percent in the next five yearsThe Dean will work closely with the CDO and faculty to ensure a robust and diverse search process.As a result of outstanding work by faculty hiring committees, the majority (7 of 8) of the incoming cohort of tenured or tenure track faculty in Fall 2016 were people of color. Four African American women joined us this fall and one African American man will start the following fall. Protocols are being developed for the faculty Affirmative Action Committee. Hiring practices are under review to effectively use the Affirmative Action Committee and develop the role of the CDO.
7Provide funding for Harambee, the student group for black men which has not received funding in five yearsYes. Funding is available through increased budget of ICA.Effective September 2016, Harambee is officially associated with Intercultural Affairs (ICA) and has an assigned programming budget.COMPLETE
9Immediate demilitarization of Campus Safety, which includes, but is not limited to, removal of bulletproof vests from uniform, exclusion of military and external policy rhetoric from all documents and daily discourse, and increased transparency and positive direct connection to the student bodyChief's Advisory Group (including students) will review campus safety policy and protocols and provide appropriate recommendations.Campus Safety Advisory Committee (CSAC) was formed and announced to campus on 12/15/15. A Campus Safety Town Hall was held for members of the Occidental community on 3/16. CSAC submitted final recommendations on 4/19 and a campus message was sent on 5/2/16 announcing the recommendations. Campus Safety now reports to COO; Campus Safety Committee established and meets regularly; website has been updated, online complaint form in development; if bulletproof vests worn, they are generally worn under the uniform (though vests may be worn over the uniform if a campus safety officer believes it is necessary); a citation appeal committee has been created which includes non Campus Safety members (staff and students). Policy and procedure manual is in development. CDO conducted diversity training for Campus Safety - summer 2016. Ride-alongs available to community.COMPLETE, with continuing progress 10Immediate removal of LAPD’s presence on campusYes, absent emergency or required police business.Police league continued to use campus facilities per an existing contract. Contract expired in 3/16 and has not been renewed.COMPLETE11Ensure the continued existence of the ICA as a longstanding office on campusYes.ICA budget was doubled in November 2016; now reports to CDOCOMPLETE12Elimination of the first-year education program. In its place, restructure CSP classes to fulfill the original purpose of the CSP, which was to focus on issues around identityStudent Affairs will restructure FYRE to effectively address issues of diversity and cultural sensitivity. The Academic Planning Committee will review CSP and recommend appropriate changes to the faculty, Dean and President during the Spring 2016 semester.FYRE has been eliminated and elements have been incorporated into first year orientation. There will not be a required course for Fall 2016. The replacement program is being designed with input from faculty and administrators. The redesigned program will incorporate different learning models and be implemented in Fall 2017.ON TRACK: Curriculum changes will be discussed by the faculty during the 2016-17 academic year for implementation Fall 201713Hire much-needed physicians of color at Emmons Student Wellness Center to treat physical and emotional trauma associated with issues of identityThe College is committed to hiring diverse professionals to treat physical and emotional trauma associated with issues of identity.Diversity is always considered when evaluating the practitioners and clinicians who support our students. William Jones, African American therapist, hired fall 2016; launched multicultural psychodrama process group COMPLETE