Student & Community Expectations
St. Francis College is actively considering the action-steps necessary to enact a diverse learning environment in a way that promotes dialogues and ensures all members of the community feel they belong — even as we grapple together with appreciating difference.
We will focus on continuing to increase access and equity for historically underserved students, faculty and staff, to work to improve campus climate for all members of the campus community and to infuse inclusive excellence initiatives into the curriculum and co-curriculum. Our efforts will include, but not be limited to, the following:
Investing in Areas of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity
We are undertaking a comprehensive approach to this work by immediately launching a process to begin a search for a Chief Diversity Officer. Chief of Staff Monique Moore Pryor has been in conversations for some time with Jeanne Arnold, Chief Diversity Officer at Gettysburg College, to guide our work in these areas. Arnold is responsible for establishing offices of diversity, inclusion and equity on two very different types of campuses and is a thought leader in this area.
Developing a Comprehensive Inclusive Excellence Multi-Year Plan
Although the first order of business is to hire someone to lead this work at the College, there are steps we can take immediately. We want the community to know that our long-term object is to establish a committee that will ultimately roll out a comprehensive approach to the work that is necessary to advance the College in areas of diversity, inclusion and equity. This plan will evaluate our existing practices and policies across the entire campus and establish clear guidelines/metrics to make changes when necessary. While we know things will not change overnight, we intend to be explicit regarding our goals, accountability metrics, assessments and timelines. Students will be an important part of this process.
Curricular and Co-Curricular Review
Academic Affairs will look to do a comprehensive curricular review to ensure diversity, inclusion, equity and justice elements are incorporated into each Body of Knowledge in our General Education Program. Additionally, they will begin discussions about incorporating capstone experiences which focus on issues related to social justice; they will look to see how departments can incorporate capstones, co-curricular experiences and summer projects that are focused on issues related to equity and justice. Importantly, Academic Affairs will continue to develop and implement a search process to ensure faculty hires reflect the diversity of SFC’s student body. Further, they will continue to develop workshops that underscore the importance of pedagogical approaches that reflect fully an understanding of the lived lives of SFC students.
Building an effective learning community requires that we pay attention to all members of the campus. We will work to develop an approach that breaks down barriers to the opportunities historically denied to individuals because of race, gender, gender identity and expression, religion, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical ability or disability. We will do this by creating guidelines for hiring practices and implementing developmental programs that can enable those who choose to broaden and deepen their contributions to the community. Moreover, we will encourage all staff members to extend their education where such a pursuit will lead to personal and professional growth. Additionally, Human Resources will initiate conversations that will establish training guidelines, hiring practices and capacity building for hiring officers to ensure that our hiring practices demonstrate our commitment to enacting a diverse learning environment.
Creating Conditions to Have Conversations That Matter
Before and since the recent calls for police reform and an end to systematic racism, we have and will continue to engage our community to see, hear, feel and understand one another:
- In July 2020, all students, faculty and staff were invited to join Healing Circles coordinated by Natasha Edwards and the Office of Student Health Services. These are conversations among small groups, in which participants can openly and candidly express themselves and listen and learn from their peers in a safe, supportive, non-judgmental environment. The Healing Circles will be ongoing.
- Maliek Sterrett, Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs, has been coordinating conversations for President Martinez-Saenz and Chief of Staff Pryor with student leaders including Student Government, Black Student Union, Caribbean Student Association, Student-Athletes and more. Chief of Staff Pryor is also coordinating conversations with staff and faculty.
- SFC Innovate hosted a Zoom panel entitled Two States of Emergency. The panel was moderated by Dr. Hakim Williams ‘03, Chairperson of Africana Studies at Gettysburg University.
- 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge was co-sponsored with the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn and launched on Juneteenth (2020).
- We Must Learn Series: While this is under development, the College will be sponsoring educational programming in areas critical to advancing the cause of ensuring that the “arch of the universe bends toward justice” and that our community understands intimately the issues of the day. Sessions will include NY State and City laws regarding policing and prisons; voting matters, including the importance of voter mobilization, down ballot voting and more; housing issues; educational issues in NYC and beyond; public health matters in NYC; social entrepreneurship and more.