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The Source

A Report on the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion Listening Forum

December 08, 2015

More than 400 Lewis & Clark community members attended the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) Listening Forum on Monday evening, December 7, at the Agnes Flanagan Chapel.

President Barry Glassner welcomed the crowd of students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members saying, “Dedication to diversity and inclusion has been integral to my career in my teaching, research, and writing, and as an administrator. I am heartened that so many of you want us to move forward in order to ensure that Lewis & Clark is a safe, welcoming, and equitable place.”

Glassner then handed the floor over to Professor Janet Steverson, Douglas K. Newell Professor of Teaching Excellence at the Law School and chair of the CDI. She introduced the representatives of the CDI seated on stage and outlined the format for the forum.

When Professor Steverson asked the crowd to divide into groups for break-out sessions, two attendees interrupted, and soon after a group of students gathered and sat on the stage displaying protest signs. Professor Steverson urged the group to join in the group discussions, but the students left and invited others to follow them to Stamm Dining Room for an alternative forum. More than half the crowd stayed at the chapel, while other attendees joined the student activists or returned to other activities. As the activists were leaving, a student of color took the microphone urging community members to not turn their backs on each other and silence those with whom they disagree. 

President Glassner and Professor Steverson followed the activists to Stamm and listened to and engaged for about an hour with the students, alumni, and community members, including students from Reed and Portland State University, as they spoke about their views on diversity and inclusion issues at the college. President Glassner spoke of his own longtime dedication to inclusion and Lewis & Clark’s continued progress.

Meanwhile, at the chapel, about 200 participants in 15 small group sessions addressed issues of diversity and inclusion at Lewis & Clark and concrete suggestions for moving forward. The facilitators led the discussions and took note of their ideas.

Near the end of the forum, group members shared some of their ideas which included:

  • Students drafting and adopting a Student Code of Conduct or Code of Honor which would include sexual assault and racism.
  • Adding training sessions in diversity for students as well as resident advisors, faculty, and staff.
  • Increasing the number of faculty of color.
  • Encouraging more communication about the process and progress of the CDI’s work on issues of diversity and inclusion.
  • Instituting a Safe Ride program.

President Glassner and Professor Steverson rejoined the forum in the chapel as the ideas were being shared. Glassner said, “I want to thank those of you who chose to remain here. Your ideas will be shared with me and CDI. I apologize for leaving to join the other group. The decision to go tore me up, but I wanted this to be an evening of listening.” He continued, “I hope that all of us can be part of the conversation to move forward.”

Dean of Students and CDI member Anna Gonzalez closed out the forum. “I believe in the ethos of care and kindness,” Gonzales said. “I know there are a lot of students in pain, but their pain will be even greater if they use hate. Social justice is based on love. We need to remind ourselves of that as we try to build a stronger and more inclusive community.”

The CDI is tasked with presenting a plan incorporating feedback from community members that was shared at the forum. Additionally, community members are encouraged to fill out a diversity and inclusion survey by January 31.

Attendees were offered a handout, “A Working Summary and Timeline of Recent Diversity and Inclusion Efforts and Resources,” which summarizes some of the progress that Lewis & Clark has made in the last five years.