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Community Equity Updates: November 2021

Greetings,

As we near the end of November, we want to provide information on the Presidential Advisory Group’s Community Equity Action Plan as well the work of the external consultants, Beyond Racial Equity. In addition to the below updates, we are also in the process of revising the Action Plan website to infuse an intersectional approach to the work of Community Equity. We will be advancing this work in the coming days, and are grateful for the ongoing engagement of students, staff, and faculty. 

Academic Affairs and Student Government Association:

  • Annual Academic Town Hall, November 30 (2:00 – 4:00 p.m.): The Academic Town Hall is a collaboration between Academic Affairs, SGA Leadership, and members of the Dean’s Fellowship Program.This year’s Town Hall will be conducted in a hybrid manner with students having the option to join via Zoom or in person at various campus locations (mostly located in the basement of Little Building and meeting rooms in 172 Tremont). The first hour invites students to convene (in the Little Building Student Performance Center Theater and the Paramount Black Box) for a panel to discuss issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion; COVID-19 transition; and accessibility, in the context of Academics at Emerson. The panelists for this session are Jan Roberts-Breslin, Tuesda Roberts, Diane Paxton, Erik Muurisepp, and Brandin Dear. During the second hour, students and faculty transition to breakout rooms according to their academic departments. These smaller sessions will be moderated by Dean’s Fellows and SGA department senators. In advance of the Academic Town Hall, a survey was sent out to all students to gather opinions on academics and academic policies at Emerson. The link to complete the survey is: bit.ly/sgath2021.

Beyond Racial Equity Strategic Review:

  • Beyond Racial Equity (BRE), the consulting firm hired by Emerson for a strategic review of College practices and policies to identify structural and systemic barriers that prevent BIPOC students, students with disabilities, and students from other marginalized groups from experiencing a sense of belonging and full participation, is currently in the Discovery Phase of the project, gathering comprehensive information from students, faculty, and staff about the equity experience at Emerson. 

    The full strategic review has four core phases: Discovery, Institution and Stakeholder Review, Strategic Planning, and Findings and Recommendations.The Discovery Phase will conclude in December. The information gathered will be used to inform the Institutional and Stakeholder Review phase in January with additional focus groups and the opportunity for all Emerson Community members to participate in a virtual conversation about equity at Emerson. The outcome of the work with Beyond Racial Equity will be a report of findings and recommendations delivered to the College in March 2022. 

    A website with information about the review has been created and will be updated regularly on the College’s Community Equity Action Plan website under Beyond Racial Equity Strategic Review. If you would like more information or to be involved in the Beyond Racial Equity Strategic Review, please email communityequity@emerson.edu or contact Beyond Racial Equity at info@beyondracialequity.com

Student Accessibility Services:

  • Association on Higher Education & Disability (AHEAD) Review: In alignment with Emerson’s commitment to supporting students with disabilities, Campus Life has engaged the Association on Higher Education & Disability (AHEAD) with a review of the College and its policies, practices, and activities related to students and Community members with disabilities. The process will begin with a series of surveys to stakeholders (students, faculty, and staff), a site visit slated for February 2022, and a final report to be delivered in late spring 2022.
  • Accessibility Advisory Board Update: The Accessibility Advisory Board, which meets twice a semester and includes representation from students, faculty and staff, has adopted a new charge and focus on the establishment of priority projects and requests, including improving access and increasing the application of universal design principles and increasing sensitivity and awareness among students, faculty, and staff at Emerson about a social justice model for the full inclusion of individuals with disabilities. The full charge and membership list can be found under the Demands & Actions section of the Community Equity Action Plan: Accessibility Advisory Board.

New Staff Support:

The following staff members and positions have been added in support of students:

  • Healing & Advocacy: Courtney Kavanagh, Survivor Counselor; Robyn Manning-Samuels, Survivor Counselor.
  • Emerson Counseling & Psychological Services: Rashidat Agboola, Staff Clinician-BIPOC Focus; Kassmin Williams ’12, Staff Clinician-BIPOC Focus.
  • Student Accessibility Services: Kalyn Choma, Assistant Director; Morgan Waite, Coordinator, Academic Accommodations.
  • Career Development Center: Sharon Schiffer, Coordinator, Career Accessibility & Equity.
  • Student Success: Two positions in Student Success are currently in the hiring process: Assistant Director, Access, Success and Belonging; Specialist in Leaves, Returns, and Transfer Student Support. Both searches are moving along in very positive directions.

Resource Reminders:

  • Bias Incident Reporting Form: The new centralized Bias Incident Reporting process allows all Emerson community members to share when they experience or witness an incident of bias on any Emerson campus. Reports are triaged to representatives in Academic Affairs, Student Conduct, and Human Resources for follow-up and response.
  • ITG Accessibility Guides for Courses: A collection of resources and guidelines for faculty to make courses accessible, including teaching guidelines, tools, and instructions for Universal Design Learning and accessible Canvas content.
  • Bright Lights Panel: Accessibility in Creative Practice: Watch the recorded conversation featuring a panel of practitioners in the field of captioning and audio description, as well as artists and filmmakers who strive to make their work accessible.

Please email communityequity@emerson.edu if you have any questions about these updates. We hope you find opportunities for rest and gathering with loved ones and community in the coming days. 

Sincerely,

Community Equity Communications Working Group: Alayne Fiore, Brooke Knight, Chris Daly, Iris O’Connor, Jae Williams, Jim Hoppe, Michelle Gaseau, Ruthanne Madsen, Sam Woodson

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