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Community Equity Update: May 2021

Dear Members of the Emerson Community,

Nearing the end of the traditional academic year, we hope you will soon have an opportunity to find space for transition and growth in warmer days. As we shift our minds to the summer months, we pause for a moment to acknowledge all that has happened in the world and at Emerson this past year. We honor those who continued to lift their voice and speak their truth. We thank those who listened, with support and encouragement, and those who deepened their own understanding of the intersections of identity and oppression and our collective need to interrogate systems and structures that marginalize human beings.

A necessary step in this process is honoring the intersectionality of identities. While this email provides updates in support of the #ESOCWeekOfAction Student Demands, we anticipate additional communication and information related to the Access: Student Disability Union’s Access Advocacy Project to be provided in the near future.

Administrative:

Presidential Advisory Group:

  • The first annual Community Town Hall: Race, Accessibility, Equity was convened on April 16. The Town Hall was moderated by Naomi Jones ’21, and Sylvia Spears, Vice President for Equity & Social Justice, and had over 300 unique viewers. Included in the event was a viewing of #ThisIsEmerson, a film by former students and co-founders of POWER Aliyah Browne and Lissa Deonarain; updates from academic department Chairs and Deans; and a question and answer session for community members. A follow-up meeting with students, President Pelton, and the vice presidents was held to debrief the event and gather notes and feedback to consider for next year’s Town Hall. 
  • A Request for Proposals (RFP) for external consultants who will be tasked with identifying structural and systemic barriers that prevent BIPOC students from experiencing a sense of belonging and full participation at Emerson was developed by a sub-group of the President’s Advisory Group for Community and Equity. The RFP was released on April 12 with a deadline of May 3. Due to the timing of the request, only one organization was able to submit a completed proposal, with several other organizations sharing that they are booked until 2022. Additional organizations who consult on organizational change and anti-racist practices will be identified and invited to submit proposals, with a goal of securing an external consultant over the summer months.

Bias and Identity-Based Harm:

  • Staff in Academic Affairs, Campus Life, Human Resources, and the Social Justice Center met during the spring semester to discuss additional options for reporting experiences of bias, microaggressions, and identity-based harm that will allow for direct reporting to the areas noted above while also maintaining an option of anonymity for those who report. This revised system will allow Academic Affairs, Campus Life, and Human Resources to monitor, track, and respond to experiences within their areas of the College. The Social Justice Center will continue to provide support and advocacy for those impacted by identity-based harm.

Employee Training

  • Staff in Human Resources and the Social Justice Center met in April to outline changes to Human Resources Orientation for all new staff members, which will now include discussion of diversity and equity issues, as well as the College’s commitment to doing ongoing work in this area. Additional opportunities for staff engagement through workshops and programs will be developed over summer months.

ECPD:

  • Staff of Housing & Residence Life held meetings with Resident Advisors during the month of April regarding the availability of alternative resources to contacting ECPD, including ECAPS’ after-hours service telephone crisis service, which allows students to talk to a licensed therapist on evenings and weekends, and an on-call physician that provides tele-health services on evenings and weekends.
  • Resource cards have been distributed and posted in residential areas with contact information for RA on duty and hours, RD of building, instructions for work order, contact information for ECAPS, CHW, Healing & Advocacy, Campus Life, and ECPD Emergency/Non-Emergency.

Faculty:

Progress on Faculty Initiatives (launched prior to #ESOCWeekOfAction)

  • At the April 27 Faculty Assembly, the faculty overwhelmingly approved adding a new teaching standard to the Faculty Handbook that outlines requirements for creating Inclusive Learning Environments. Other approved language highlights inclusion in the advising process and developing a reflective and inclusive teaching practice. This policy change is a significant addition to the teaching standards to which every faculty member is held. These changes were proposed by the Educational Equity and Justice Committee and are in addition to the March 23 approval of the recognition of Essential Service. 

Disciplinary Processes:

Transparent Student Conduct Disciplinary Process:

  • The Office of Community Standards is in the process of compiling data for reporting from the 2020-2021 academic year. 
  • As of May 1, Community Standards heard 1,086 cases ranging from information conversations, alleged violations of COVID-19 protocols, and/or allegations of violations of other college policies.
  • Of those cases:
    • 447 were forwarded for administrative hearing, 6 were forwarded to a resolution panel, and 20 resulted in a warning notice.
    • 627 individuals were found responsible for violations, 454 were found not-responsible.
    • Sanctions included disciplinary probation (171), formal warning (151), educational/reflective sanctions (147), alcohol and other drug education modules (43), suspension from College housing (17), and relocation of housing assignment (6).
  • A more detailed analysis of student conduct cases during the 2020-2021 academic year will be shared on the Office of Community Standards website in the next few weeks.

Ongoing work and updates will be added to the Community Equity Action Plan website over the summer months, with an email update on progress to be released mid-summer. For additional information or questions please contact communityequity@emerson.edu

Sincerely,
Community & Equity Communications Team

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