Friday, October 16, 2020
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Newsletter
Under the leadership of Dean of Inclusive Excellence Kahan Sablo, several institutional working groups are engaged in moving Bard College forward in its antiracism work. Three of these groups are the Excellence in Athletics Coalition, Council for Inclusive Excellence, and President’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice.
In the spring, the College commissioned Excellence in Athletics: A Coalition to Support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Bard College Athletics. This coalition, composed of student athletes, faculty, and staff, is charged with initiating a review of Bard’s Office of Athletics and Recreation in areas of accessibility as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), taking into account existing policies, facilities, and student and staff experiences. After a pause to focus on initial responses to COVID-19, the group has reengaged in collecting data to develop strong antiracism initiatives.
To assure that the presentation of information gathered is unbiased, an external consultant has been contracted to review the survey data collected, conduct town hall meetings, discuss challenges and opportunities, and review policies and procedures. The coalition will continue its work until a comprehensive action plan has been completed and released.
As the coalition’s work progresses, the administration of the Office of Athletics has undertaken the important work of creating a diversity strategic plan that includes goals for mandatory training for all student athletes, increasing diversity in the coaching staff, increasing community engagement, and more diversity among student athletes.
This semester, the Council for Inclusive Excellence (CIE) has undertaken important new initiatives on race and equity at Bard. At its most recent meeting, Sablo presented data from a climate survey administered to the Professionals of Color Working Group. The council thoroughly vetted the College’s proposed harassment and intimidation policy to formalize the institutional response to accusations of racism and other forms of harassment.
In addition, Sablo announced that the CIE has recently added two more working groups. The Admissions Working Group will enhance equity and access in the College’s enrollment process, and the Wellness Working Group will capitalize on the synergy between DEI and personal wellness on campus. Existing working groups reporting out during council meetings include the Professionals of Color, Bard Student Emergency Fund, LGBTQ Support, Athletics, Archives, Antiracist Book Club, Campus Security, Out@Bard, Gilson Place, and Difference in Justice Orientation, as well as the Mentoring Program, Difference in Justice Symposium, and Scale Project.
The President’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice has begun an in-depth assessment of the Bard community’s perceptions of diversity and equity at the College. Students, faculty, and staff are asked to immediately complete the HEDS Higher Education Diversity and Equity Campus Survey that was emailed campus-wide earlier this week. When combined with alumni/ae surveys and campus focus groups, this information will provide the foundation needed to establish an institutional plan.
Council for Inclusive Excellence members have engaged in community action by joining a number of local task forces and citizen action groups in Red Hook that have been organized in response to protests on behalf of victims of racial injustice across the country. Initiatives have been organized in coordination with the Dutchess County Human Rights Commission, Red Hook Together, Red Hook School District, and Town and Village of Red Hook governments with a commitment to address racism in the area. The College is a member of the Public History Working Group, which focuses on research and publications regarding previously hidden and underexplored local narratives on indigenous peoples, enslaved people, and tenants and indentured servants; and explores public history venues (exhibitions, signage, monuments, murals, and other forms of public expression) as ways to present this history.
Listening sessions on police reform have been organized to address policing in Northern Dutchess County, which is patrolled by the Red Hook Police, Dutchess County Sheriff, and New York State Police. Governor Andrew Cuomo is requiring all municipalities with law enforcement agencies to submit a modernization and reform plan by April 2021. Public input regarding police reform and modernization is encouraged and can be submitted here.
As the College continues its campus safety initiative, which began last spring with the installation of new lights along Annandale Path, we are making significant upgrades to the crosswalks and street lighting along the entire road.
The long-term control over and safety of Annandale Road remains a College priority. In September, we received confirmation from the Dutchess County Department of Public Works (DPW) that we could develop a plan that addresses our safety needs for Annandale Road. DPW will assist us in the planning process in order to work through issues of access, transfer, control, design, and cost sharing. Our attorneys have begun a mandatory legal review that includes deed research, history of the road, and applicable traffic law. We are beginning to explore design concepts with the county that would provide the security we desire while still allowing access for private citizens to their residences and for emergency vehicles. We are also working with the county on identifying short-term measures to enhance safety and security on Annandale Road in the weeks and months to come.
We encourage members of the Bard community to make the College aware of instances of discrimination or harassment. Reports can be made to the College using the Bard College Incident Reporting Form, or by calling the dean of inclusive excellence at 845-758-7367. Any emergency should be reported to Campus Safety and Security, 845-758-7777.
As the semester progresses, we will continue to provide periodic updates to the Bard community about these and other important initiatives.
For more information, call 845-758-6822.