In This Section
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force
President Botstein has appointed a standing task force of Bard administrators to work with the Council for Inclusive Excellence (CIE). This group will keep the community informed on a regular basis on the steps being taken.
2020–21 Progress Report
Listening to Student Voices
We must be honest in admitting that some mistakes have been made by well-intentioned people. Truthfully, more mistakes will be made as we attempt to navigate the growing pains of antiracism work. Therefore, student voices must be centered in all discussions—particularly the voices of Black, Brown, and other historically marginalized communities. Dr. Kahan Sablo, the Dean of Inclusive Excellence, has committed to working collaboratively across the campus in support of the accountability that students have demanded—even in matters where he has no direct authority.
Dr. Sablo has also invited the DEI affinity club leaders to meet with him monthly to discuss how he best can support their organizational leadership agendas. In addition to institutional outreach initiatives and our departmental initiatives, staff in the DEI Office will offer assistance with programming logistics, funding, advertisement, and administrative support. This leadership collective can also be a venue to share community concerns with a goal of facilitating effective outcomes before situations escalate and harm is done.
Employee and Student Diversity
The Dean of the College has recently announced the hiring of several new faculty of color. Although this is exciting news, progress is still needed to attract and retain diverse employees to the campus. The Dean of Inclusive Excellence will be working with colleagues in Human Resources, the Career Development Office, faculty/staff leaders, and the Dean of the College to reimagine hiring practices to bring an increased number of diverse applicants to the institution. Simultaneously, the Vice Presidents and Deans of the College are working to address the retention concerns evidenced in a survey administered to the Professionals of Color Affinity Group. The administration of the College is committed to partnering across the campus in support of a more welcoming environment for all students and employees.
The Council for Inclusive Excellence has recently commissioned an Admission Working Group to develop and refine strategies for enhancing the diversity of the student body. Simultaneously, we are working with colleagues in the Registrar’s Office and Institutional Research to develop laser-sharp accuracy in the assessment of institutional persistence and graduation for various student cohorts (i.e. ethnicity, opportunity scholarships, Pell recipients, etc.). Effective student recruitment and retention strategies can only be sustained through data-driven decisions.
Bard College is a highly selective institution with an academically rigorous and unique curriculum (i.e. Moderation, Senior Project, Citizen Science, Language and Thinking, etc.). However, in order for students to be successful in their post-Bardian career aspirations, increased engagement opportunities with diverse employees and peers remain essential.
Embracing Curriculum Diversity
Students have spoken up loud and clear in their demands for a racially inclusive curriculum. The Dean of Inclusive Excellence is supporting DEI conversations between students and the leadership of various academic programs. Although many decolonization of the curriculum requests were student-inspired, many significant curriculum-related DEI initiatives were already underway. We commit to being more intentional about communicating these ongoing efforts to students.
This fall, the Dean of the College convened a faculty forum where every academic program was asked to communicate current and future DEI plans. Departments were also asked to refine or create DEI division and program statements to guide their work. Further strengthening these efforts was the naming of Dr. Michael Sadowski to the position of Director of Inclusive Pedagogy and Curriculum. This new appointment has been pivotal in supporting the many faculty-led DEI-related academic initiatives currently in progress.
Collectively, great things can and will happen if we are willing to challenge existing ways of thinking, working, and learning with a commitment to accountability.
Although there are many campus DEI entities, the Office of the Dean of Inclusive Excellence is working most intimately with several strategic campus partners in support of the following outcomes:
The President's Commission on Racial Justice and Equity
The President's Commission on Racial Justice and Equity has been working tirelessly to gather reliable data to launch recommendations for a stronger, more inclusive Bard. However, ownership and implementation of these recommendations rests in the hands of every member of the Bard community. It cannot be overstated that the success of campus DEI work does not rest with a commission—it rests with all our students, staff, and faculty! Please make use of this final opportunity to provide written testimony for the Commission's review.
Excellence in Athletics Coalition
Excellence in Athletics – A Coalition to Support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Bard College Athletics resumed meeting this fall in response to equity-based concerns expressed by student athletes and other members of the campus community. This coalition was charged with reviewing athletic policies, disciplinary processes, facilities, and the overall athletic climate. Concerns among the athlete community escalated, resulting in most student athletes choosing to refrain from all athletic-related activities until demands submitted by the Coalition of Student Athletes (COSA) were honored. As part of the institutional response, the services of 122 Consulting have been contracted to assist with this work. This organization has been instrumental in opening lines of communication.
A preliminary timeline has been established. Progress to date on student demands includes, but is not limited to, mandatory antiracism training for athletic staff with Dax Devlon Ross (and a commitment to ongoing antiracism training), a Town Hall meeting between students and the athletic staff, immediate and long term revisions to the current mandatory Title IX training, athletic staff participation in the NCAA DIII OneTeam LGBTQ Training, the facilitated reading of “How to Be Antiracist,” and the anticipated availability of campus mediation services through the Mediation Center of Dutchess County.
Our talented consultants are working towards the facilitation of a restorative healing circle so that all voices can be heard. Furthermore, Dean Sablo will pursue advanced restorative justice facilitation training to better support the ongoing needs of the campus. The entire Bard community will benefit from the collective recommendations of the Athletic Coalition, the athletic staff, COSA and other student athletes, and 122 Consulting.
Council for Inclusive Excellence
The Council for Inclusive Excellence (CIE) continues to advance ongoing DEI opportunities through its 14 working groups. For example, the Bard Student Emergency Fund (BSEF) was recently recognized by the CIE and continues to provide emergency funds to students with unforeseen financial needs. As you can see from the BSEF’s inaugural report, your tax deductible contribution directly supports students experiencing an immediate financial crisis. Everyone is encouraged to financially support the BSEF. In addition, contributions can be made via payroll deductions.
THE SCALE PROJECT
BSEF efforts are complimented by The Scale Project’s ongoing efforts to assist students with college expenses. This includes the cost of supplies for academic programs that have additional curriculum-specific expenses. Their publication, “Being Not-Rich at Bard College,” is a great resource created solely by student leaders.
GILSON PLACE STEERING COMMITTEE
Student leadership has also been superbly evidenced by the leadership team of the Gilson Place Steering Committee. They have been working diligently to advance the mission of this student-led initiative in spite of restricted access to the facility because of COVID social-distancing requirements.
OUT@BARD AND STAFF MENTORING GROUP
In its first four months of existence, Out@Bard led the campus acknowledgement of National Coming Out Day, supported the updating of the Trans Resource Guide, and gathered a host of valuable resources for individuals navigating the “coming out” process. The group also hosted a campus pronouns panel and is currently working on Safe Space training to educate the campus on fully embracing its LGBTQIA+ members. Also regarding professional development, the Staff Mentoring Working Group continues to host monthly “Water Cooler'' meetings.
SECURITY WORKING GROUP
The Security Working Group has been focused on increasing campus lighting and emergency call box access while the College continues to work through the very complex legal processes associated with Bard College taking ownership of Annandale Road.
ANTI-RACIST READING GROUP
The Anti-Racist Reading Group is systematically reviewing campus policies from the lens of the most recently read texts, “How to Be an Antiracist” and ”White Fragility.” The goal is to review and make recommendations to decolonize any campus policy that unintentionally presents an equity concern.
The Title IX Coordinator and Dean of Inclusive Excellence have been working very closely to implement a campus ethnic and racial harassment policy for allegations of Title VI and Title VII harassment. Concerns have been expressed about the need for a comprehensive policy, advocacy, and clear reporting options—particularly when intradepartmental procedures have not proven effective. While this policy is being developed, the Title IX Coordinator and Dean of Inclusive Excellence will continue to work collaboratively in response to any allegations of harassment.
2019–20 Progress Report
New Dean of Inclusive Excellence
In January 2020, the College successfully concluded its fall 2019 search to fill the six-month vacancy in this post by hiring Dr. Kahan Sablo. Dr. Sablo brings to the position over 20 years of experience in higher education administration, most recently at George Mason University where he was assistant vice president for university life. He has headed diversity work at two public universities in New York State, Canton and Fredonia, and at another state institution, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, where he was senior administrator of student life. His background in equity and inclusion work in postsecondary institutions is extensive and varied. Dr. Sablo has been charged with creating a strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Bard, and is heading the recently named President's Commission on Racial Equity and Justice, which will report on its findings by January 2021.