By MARY JENKINS
For new community members at Colorado College, the topic of anti-racism efforts, such as the external review of racism and the implementation plan drafted at the end of the summer, is likely to be an unfamiliar discussion and opportunity for engagement.
In May of 2019, CC published a final report and recommendations provided by Roger Worthington, executive director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education, after his external review of racism at CC. During the summer, a small group comprised of members of the faculty, the student body, the Board of Trustees, and the administration used these reports to draft an implementation plan that President Jill Tiefenthaler published at the end of August.
As expressed in the draft, “Colorado College has experienced overt racist incidents in recent years.” The offenses include “hurtful messages on a social media platform to an anonymous, hateful, racist, anti-Black, sexist, and trans-antagonistic email,” which was received by many members of the CC community in March of 2018.
Although the final impetus for anti-racism at CC was the combination of the online comments, and the email, Tiefenthaler points out in her letter that “racism has existed at Colorado College since our founding.” This notion coincides with the emphasis published in the current implementation draft, stating, “We are not in a post-racist society or institution; we feel the effects of racism daily.” This is an important acknowledgement to ensure that the catalyzing incidents do not remain isolated in the imagination of racism within the school community.
The implementation plan’s seven goals, outlined in great length within the full document, all have deadlines prior to the end of the 2021 school year. The implementation draft is available to all students online, as well as the external review of racism webpage, and links can be found in Tiefenthaler’s aforementioned address published on Aug. 27, 2019.
Since the publication of this draft, Colorado College Student Government Association has shared their proposal for the plan’s third goal: “invest in student antiracism resources and efforts.” In terms of internships, CCSGA believes in equal opportunity and equal access to internships and student employment on campus. Their proposal asserts that internships and jobs will “require a commitment to training around antiracism to ensure that the outcomes of the internships are constructive, rather than destructive, to anti-racism efforts.” Student training for said internships are currently dependent on the results of the reformulation of the Butler Center’s programming.
CCSGA states in their proposal that there is “no standing stakeholder group focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism that includes students.” After the merger of the Minority Concerns Committee and the Women’s Concerns Committee, resulting in The Diversity and Equity Advisory Board, students were excluded. CCSGA has actively pursued a revival of student membership in DEAB, but they have been refused. Assuming that DEAB will continue without student input, CCSGA proposes that an additional committee be created to oversee the implementation of the college’s draft plan.
“The rationale that has been provided to CCSGA as for the elimination of student members was that the DEAB would be focusing primarily on staff and faculty issues,” said Ethan Greenberg ’20, student body president.
Lily Weissgold ’20, student trustee, insists that communication with student representatives is key to a successful implementation plan.
“Pushing the administration to carry out the plan once finalized will fall, in part, on the student body,” Weissgold said. “A direct way to be involved is through communicating with your CCSGA representatives, who play a significant role in determining the aspects of the plan which involve student life.” The President’s Office has sent out requests for feedback from students, and she urges everyone to educate themselves on the proposals and submit feedback.
Weissgold serves as the bridge between trustees, CCSGA, and the student body. She maintains that, “in general, the specifics of how any part of the plan will function still need to either be generated or ironed out.”
For this reason, the current stage of this process is a stage that demands student participation and engagement. Look for future updates to come regarding the initiative and its progression throughout the coming year.