The first College Diversity Roundtable (CDR) meeting of the year was held Monday, bringing a few students and many administrators together to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion goings-on at the University.
The meeting’s agenda included discussion of the “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Track” programs being held during Meliora Weekend, an update on the coming student code of conduct policy changes around discrimination and harassment, and another update about the Bias-Related Incident Report that is slated to be released later this year.
Director of Affinity Networks and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Office of Alumni Relations Dr. Ghislaine Radegonde Eison kicked off the meeting by announcing that Meliora Weekend will feature 13 events categorized under the “diversity, equity, and inclusion” banner.
The programming includes the Tropicana Dance and dinner celebration on Sept. 30 and the Douglass Leadership House’s 10th anniversary gala on Oct. 1. A full list can be found on the Meliora Weekend schedule website by filtering for the categories “Equity” and “Equity – Diversity and Inclusion.”
Shifting topics, Dean of Students Matthew Burns then gave a status report on ongoing work to change the code of conduct policy towards discrimination and harassment that applies to all students at the University.
He said the new policy, in line with updated New York state standards, will lower the bar for unacceptable actions. For the last two years, a shifting team of students and administrators have been meeting to make the policy more evaluative of the context and intent of speech or actions concerning protected classes, Burns said. The policy change is still in the works and will have to be approved by Dean of the College Jeffrey Runner and run by others before it is implemented, but Burns said it is possible that the change could come sometime during this academic year.
Assistant Dean for Diversity Dr. Jessica Guzmán-Rea, who chairs the CDR, then moved into her updates on the in-progress Bias Related Incident Report.
The publication, which she said will be released in December, will summarize data taken into the University’s Bias-Related Incident reporting system through the Bias-Related Incident form on the CARE network website. The form can be used to notify administration about harmful incidents motivated by the targeted individual or group’s “age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation,” according to the CARE site.
The December publication will be the third of such reports, which have been released every two years since 2016. Guzmán-Rea said the CDR will get a first look at the report before a final version is published.
“CDR has been instrumental at helping us figure out next steps,” Guzmán-Rea said. “Because of CDR, we’ve changed the report, like when you submit the report, so that we gather more information about the reporter. Previously we would have anonymous reporters, and they’re still anonymous, but I know who they are now—like I know it’s an undergrad, or I know it’s a graduate student, and that information’s been really helpful.”
She also said that she is working on doing more marketing around the reporting system to inform students about how to submit information and about outcomes that may come from reports.
The meeting ended with a conversation about how administrators make decisions about which world events warrant public messages and which do not. The topic was brought up by senior Epiphany Adams, who asked whether there will be an email sent about Hurricane Fiona and its impact on the Caribbean.
Burns said a message would be sent to students from the region who may be most impacted, and that he would pass the feedback about a more general message to the Office for Global Engagement, who “make those decisions.” Adams said she would prefer to see a message come from the Deans’ Office, but Dean Runner said there is complexity around coordinating those messages across the many deans at the school.
Guzmán-Rea said she would try to get representatives from the Offices of Communications and Global Engagement to speak with students on the topic at an upcoming CDR meeting. They next convene on Oct. 24 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Douglass Commons 401.