By Victoria Gill-Gomez and Erica Quinones
Changes on campus do not stop as Washington College transitions to remote learning for Fall 2020. Multiple staffing changes were announced for the 2020-2021 academic year across campus.
Carese Bates transitioned from interim director of Intercultural Affairs to director of Intercultural Affairs.
Bates joined the College’s staff in Feb. 2019 as assistant director of Intercultural Affairs, succeeding former Director of Intercultural Affairs Dr. Jean-Pierre Laurenceau-Medina after his departure in Feb. 2020.
As Director, Bates holds many responsibilities across campus, including oversight of departmental aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion; holding diversity trainings; promoting safe space awareness; managing the Center for Black Culture; supporting identity affirmation; coordinating the Washington Scholars Program; advising and co-chairing multicultural student groups like Hillel, D.R.E.A.M., and Muslim Student Association; collaborating with different departments and offices across campus; and much more.
Her work is deeply entrenched in the student experience from the very beginning of their WC experiences.
As coordinator of the Washington Scholars Program, Bates works with the students to create a sense of community and expand their experiences.
While students cannot be together physically, Bates is working towards facilitating remote meetings and activities to support the students as a cohort and program.
Bates is also involved in the transition of incoming freshmen with their new diversity training, which was completed during orientation.
The training was needed, according to both Bates and student-led discussions that occurred throughout the 2019-2020 academic year.
Bates said that the old diversity training was not robust or “reflective of the current moment.” The new training allows students to walk alongside a college student who experiences the nuances of college life as a minority student.
Bates described the new training as robust, comprehensive, current, intersectional, and engaging.
Freshmen thus far enjoy the training, according to Bates, and it will be extended to all students regardless of class year.
Bates is also moving forward with other diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives such as updating the bias reporting protocol and possibly founding a WC History Program to discuss the racial history of the College.
She also continues working towards the creation of a space for underrepresented students in the basement of Minta Martin.
The space was demanded by students in the March “A Letter of Grievances and Demands to Washington College” which described it as needing “at least a prayer room, meeting spaces for inter-cultural groups and clubs, a bigger Black Cultural Center, and workspaces for inter-cultural ambassadors and student leaders for these various clubs.”
Bates said the process to create such a space is underway as they are currently securing funds to renovate the basement of Minta Martin.
“I am happy to be serving in this role at WC, and I hope that while I am in this role, I am able to support the entire community by making sure we have an inclusive and welcoming environment,” Bates said. “I am excited about the direction we are headed at WC….I think that with the arising of a lot of the injustices on campus created a beautiful awareness opportunity where we can really show the moral courage of WC. I am grateful to be in a position to facilitate the change at WC. With our strong student leaders holding us accountable, I know we will be able to achieve the change that everyone wants to see.”
Another notable change is former Director of Student Engagement Elaine Grant.
Grant, who joined the College staff in 2018, is a fixture in Hodson Hall Commons and at Student Event Board events. She has since made the move to director of Conferencing Services.
Grant came into the position after the retirement of former Director of Conferencing Services Shirley Loller ’15. Loller spent 13 years with the College and served in the position from 2014 until her retirement in Aug. 2020, according to an August email to staff.
Grant’s new position functions similarly to an event planner. These on-campus events might include academic conferences, summer camps, or weddings, and may require space reservations, catering, and other services.
These responsibilities are heavily affected by COVID-19 as the pandemic introduces new safety protocols regarding public gatherings, such as modified occupancy limits and social distancing abilities.
Other restrictions, such as a visitor approval process, were also introduced. That approval process focuses on the origin of visitors, permitting only those who do not come from a COVID-19 hotspot onto the campus.
While her new position is found within the Business Office, Grant said that she is still involved in student life as an advisor to the Student Government Association and Student Events Board.
But Grant’s previous position is not being assumed by a stranger. Former Assistant Director of Student Engagement Sarah Tansits, who Grant described as good-spirited and caring, will assume the role of director of Student Engagement.
Another transition occurred with Associate Director of Public Safety Sue Golinski moving from assistant Title IX coordinator to acting Title IX coordinator.
Golinski takes the position of former Title IX Coordinator, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Candace Wannamaker.
“There have been a lot of student voices and concerns around Title IX…and I felt that it was important for us to shift responsibility while we get a handle on what those concerns are,” said Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Sarah Feyerherm. “If [students] have concerns or do not completely trust a process, you need to respond to that. Staying status quo was not the answer.”
Golinski was not the only change involving the Department of Public Safety, as Director of Athletics Thad Moore entered a supervisory support role for the department.
Moore holds over 20 years of experience at WC, overseeing the College’s sports medicine department for 16 years and heading the athletics department for the past four. According to Moore, he developed a “great relationship” with Public Safety during that time.
He is still the director of Athletics, but now adds oversight of the Department of Public Safety to his responsibilities. This makes Moore the link between the department and the College’s senior staff, ensuring that Public Safety has access to resources in order to provide a safe environment for the WC community.
While they are independent departments and seem very different from each other, Moore said that both Athletics and Public Safety “have a significant impact on the population they interact with on a daily basis.” The departments’ proximity to students means that Moore wants to do all he can to ensure they have “a wonderful experience while they attend WC.”
Moore added that he is happy to be entrusted with the new oversight role, one of many opportunities for professional growth that the College has afforded him. Moore also said that he has “the utmost respect” for the Public Safety staff and looks forward to working with them.