Strategic Diversity Committee ends fall semester forums

By Cecilia Cress
News Co-Editor

The Washington College Diversity Committee submitted the Strategic Diversity Initiative and planned to host seven open forums: two for staff, faculty, and students, and one for senior staff, to provide feedback on the goals of the Initiative. 

“In early spring this year, Interim President Dr. Wayne Powell tasked [Director of Intercultural Affairs] Carese Bates and I with developing a strategic diversity plan. We assembled a team from the Diversity Committee and Planning Committee, and last spring we built the draft that is currently going around,” Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee Dr. Emerald Stacy said. “This month, October, is the end of seven open forums. Basically we are looking for feedback, [to] help us build this to be the best, strongest, diversity plan that we could have for Washington College.”

According to an email sent by Dr. Stacy, the working group responsible for the planning of this initiative includes herself, Director of Intercultural Affairs and Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee Carese Bates, Diversity Liaison Claire Hansen, Assistant Professor of Political Science Dr. Flavio Hickel, Professor of Music and Co-Chair of the Planning Committee Dr. Jon McCollum, and Professor of Political Science Dr. Christine Wade. 

The last forum was for students and was held over Zoom on Oct. 27. Dr. Stacy, Bates, and Assistant Professor of Sociology Dr. Nick Garcia hosted the event. 

During the event, they outlined the goals of the current draft of the Strategic Diversity Initiative. These goals include: “assign responsibility for the measurement, assessment, and coordination of diversity initiatives; cultivate a campus community that is supportive of inclusion, justice, and social equality; increase the racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, national origin, and socioeconomic diversity of the student body; increase the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of faculty and staff; provide resources and support to faculty to encourage and empower them to build diverse perspectives into their curriculum and to teach students how to recognize implicit bias; [and] increase engagement with the diverse community of Chestertown.”

During the event, Dr. Stacy and Bates explained each of the current six goals of the diversity initiative and opened up the conversation for any kind of comments, suggestions, or questions pertaining to these goals.

Dr. Stacy said that since this is the last forum, it is important to keep in mind all the previous discussions so far in order to keep building on current ideas and suggestions, as well as welcome new ones.

“Since this is the seventh [forum] there’s been a lot of conversation already…We’ve gotten feedback we did not anticipate getting, which I think is exactly the point of doing this,” Dr. Stacy said. “We see things from our own lenses, but no one person has the picture of the whole school, and so we want to make sure that everybody has a voice.” 

Dr. Stacy said the conversation stimulated by these forums has greatly helped with the development of the strategic diversity initiative.

“We’ve had items in here that we want to accomplish and we’ve heard from other people that we’re either already doing that or something better than we had imagined is on its way,” Dr. Stacy said. “[We’re] trying to really capture that whole big picture all at once, and see where we are and where we want to go as a campus, and how we’re going to get there.”

According to Dr. Stacy, the draft of the Strategic Diversity Initiative will be revised according to the feedback received during the forums. A final draft will be written in November and submitted to President of the College Dr. Mike Sosulski for further review and action.  “At that point [President Sosulski] will take it and work with his team to develop it further, put in more specifics, and he will take it from there,” Dr. Stacy said.

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