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A message from Janet Steverson, chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion

December 09, 2015

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    Douglas K. Newell Professor of Teaching Excellence and Chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion Janet Steverson

Dear Lewis & Clark Community,

The Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) and I would like to thank everyone who attended the listening forum on Monday, Dec. 7. We appreciate your willingness to participate in a forum at this busy time of year.

We received excellent input from the break-out sessions. As I indicated at the forum, your input will help to guide the action plan that the President asked the CDI to create for the spring of 2016. We are currently putting your ideas into a document that we can then circulate to the community.

In addition to thanking everyone, I want to make one clarification regarding the questions posed at the forum. I have heard a few people stating that the CDI asked, “Is there racism on this campus?” That was not the question. We know that there is racism everywhere. The first discussion question was as follows: “Do you believe that problems exist in the area of diversity and inclusion, i.e., creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our community? The problems need not be ‘diversity-related’ as that term is commonly understood. We are the committee of diversity and inclusion.”

In giving examples of possible problems I spoke about four things: safety; campus culture; institutional issues, e.g., increasing diversity of the student body, faculty, and staff; and classroom (having more diverse materials and/or classes). Diversity encompasses race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, first generation, disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation, just to name a few characteristics. The CDI posed the question in an open-ended way to promote the greatest amount of discussion involving a variety of diversity-related issues. It gave space for people to say that the existing diversity initiatives have made them feel welcome and supported. It also, however, challenged them to think beyond themselves and ask whether others do not feel welcome and supported and why.

It is important to remember that we are the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, thus we are concerned with the well-being of all members of our community. As a reminder, you may complete  the diversity and inclusion survey until January 31. Again, thank you for your involvement.

Sincerely,

Professor of Law Janet W. Steverson
Chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion