REPORT OF THE OVERSIGHT PANEL
ON THE IMPLEMENTATION
OF TASK FORCE ON RACE RECOMMENDATIONS
May 14, 1999
Prepared for President John DiBiaggio and Vice President Mel Bernstein
by the Oversight Panel
Anne F. Gardulski, Geology Dept., Chair
Sasha Baltins, Senior
Lin Brown, Civil and Environmental Engineering Dept.
Virginia Diez, Graduate Student
Badi Foster, Lincoln-Filene Center
Gerald Gill, History Dept.
Sean Hassan, Junior (Spring 1999)
Jayanthi Mistry, Child Development
Meena Thever, Junior (Fall 1998)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
GAPS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS, 1
- RESULTS OF ACTIVITIES, 2
- Selection of Students to the Panel, 2
- Response Team Organization, 2
- Assessment of Implementation of Task Force Recommendations, 3
- Consideration of Graduate Students, 10
- Oversight Panel Reporting to the Community, 11
In 1997, the Task Force on Race produced a report outlining some of the important issues facing the university in dealing with race as it impacts our undergraduates. The report includes dozens of recommendations which, when implemented, will help to systemically change the culture of the university so that students of all races may pursue their education more comfortably and effectively. The mission of the Oversight Panel is to monitor the implementation of the recommendations, assess the ways in which they are implemented to evaluate their effectiveness, advise the President and Vice President on progress and problems, and report on the status of the recommendations to the community. We do not set policy or have the authority to direct offices to implement recommendations, but we hope that our evaluation of progress on implementation will both encourage and educate offices as they do their work.
The Oversight Panel met 14 times during the 1998-99 academic year. Our activities included:
- setting up a mechanism for selection of student members of the Panel;
- initiating efforts to set up a team charged with responding to discriminatory incidents on campus;
- seeking information on implementation of Task Force Priority 1 recommendations and evaluating progress; and
- reporting to the student community at an evening forum.
We considered the most important of these activities to be evaluation of progress made on Task Force Priority 1 recommendations. It is clear that none of the recommendations have been ignored, though implementation effectiveness and completeness is variable.
Two problematic themes emerged from our work that thread through all the recommendations. The first is the difficulty in pinning down specifically how administrative offices will communicate to students the steps they are taking to advance the recommendations. The importance of communicating the new or changed practices, policies, and procedures cannot be overstated. Even though many of the Task Force recommendations have been put into place, there is still the widespread feeling that "nothing is being done". This is due in large part to the lack of advertising about what has been done, as well as the significance of the changes and why they are important. Students do not read or consult many of the university publications for information; in fact the Daily is the major source for news reporting. Unless and until that changes, the student media is the best vehicle for informing the student community of progress on the recommendations, however we urge that more creative ways to disseminate information be developed. Suggestions for accomplishing this include: a weekly newsletter that highlights what is going on at Tufts to include features on diversity initiatives that would be distributed at the Campus Center, Carmichael, and Dewick; links to headlines about such initiatives that would appear on the Library and computer lab home pages; and blanket e-mail news bulletins. Focus groups of students to determine what are possible effective communication vehicles could be convened. These efforts at communication on an ongoing, regular basis would not only inform students of progress and problems, but also by design require administrators to keep these issues at the forefront.
The second is a concern that after recommendations are implemented there is no followup by the responsible office to determine if the action or policy truly accomplished what the recommendation intended, especially if it was implemented in modified form. This is discussed in more detail in suggestion D in the next section.
We have identified four broad areas where it seems that there are gaps or disconnects in the process of implementation of the Task Force recommendations. We propose remedies for these in the points below, and offer specific suggestions in the section "Assessment of Implementation of Task Force Recommendations" beginning on p.3 that deals with each of the 24 Priority One recommendations.
- The implementation process is an opportunity to expand policies and practices of inclusiveness beyond issues of race as they impact the undergraduates at Tufts. Many of the recommendations naturally extend to other diversity issues, including homophobia, gender discrimination, and socioeconomic homogeneity on campus. We urge all offices to extend implementation of Task Force recommendations to address diversity in the broader sense, where appropriate in the recommendations.
- Our graduate students are a population whose needs, challenges, and potential have not been considered in the race and diversity dialog that has emerged in recent years. We include a section with suggestions for focusing on graduate students and the ways that race/diversity impacts this important segment of our community, to include a study similar to, but at smaller scale, the Task Force. Also, recognition of staff issues is in very early stages and ought to be more proactively addressed.
- The work of infusing race and diversity awareness through the culture of the university may be daunting. It requires willingness to change the status quo and acceptance that change brings a measure of discomfort, particularly when the changes involve such sensitive issues. A Task Force, and an Oversight Panel, can provide some guidance to the
administration via recommendations that institute change through specific actions. However, a broader perspective is required to take the spirit of the recommendations to a deeper level, and go beyond putting just the specified practices into place.
It is the President who sets the tone and steers the university through new policies. We are aware of the pressing demands on the President's time that effectively managing the university requires. Setting a course of change is extraordinarily time-consuming. We suggest that an advisor to the President be brought in for a period of perhaps two years, to assist in developing the vision of diversity and race awareness through the highest levels of policy and to provide guidance and advice to help weather the difficulties that come in the wake of change. This person should have experience in administration of universities, with knowledge of their structure and resources, and have experience in race and diversity issues. One candidate we would suggest for this consultancy is Dr. Bernard Harleston, or someone of his stature, who spent many years at Tufts and is familiar with us as an institution. Regardless of who the person is, he or she will be a valuable resource for the President as someone who devotes attention fully to these policy issues and can serve in a critical advisory capacity.
- Our final recommendation is "Listen to your constituency". All of us need to listen to the students to hear whether our efforts are accomplishing what we intended. Implementation of all the Task Force recommendations, but without evaluation of whether they are actually making a positive impact, is not sufficient. After each recommendation is put into place, the responsible offices should critically examine the results, consult with students, and reformulate their practices if necessary. We encourage at least annual review of the recommendations to see if the intent is being met, and to change the process if needed. This requires that the spirit of the Task Force Report as well as the rationale for the particular recommendation is followed. It is not sufficient to stamp a recommendation as "done" and then proceed no further; what additional activities and dialogue could productively stem from the recommendation? For example, we note in a later section that certain goals relating to the Office of Equal Opportunity are met or in place, however the spirit of the rationale behind the recommendation may not be well-addressed. It is important to update recommendations and their intent in future years as well, as our student population changes.
Each of the four activities mentioned in the Introduction will be discussed in the following sections.
Selection of Students to the Panel
In response to objections voiced by students to any selection process that is not wide open to the entire community, we developed a process whereby vacancies on the Panel are advertised in the Daily or in the Graduate Student Council's newsletter, The GradRag. Students interested in serving on the Panel submit a letter of application and a resume to the Panel's chair, who turns them over to the current students on the Panel. Those students select the candidates they believe are best qualified. The undergraduate membership was also increased from 2 students to 3 students, beginning in Fall 1999, with staggered terms to ensure some continuity.
Response Team Organization
One of the first steps the Panel took was to initiate efforts to set up a team of administrators that would respond to incidents of racial or other forms of discrimination. The "response" in no way supplants investigation of an incident. Rather, it is a public acknowledgment that an incident is alleged to have occurred, that it is being investigated, and it affirms administration's commitment to making Tufts a safe and welcoming place. Discussion of recommendations 13 and 15 (p. 7-8) provide more details about the Team. These recommendations arose from student discontent about the perceived passiveness of the administration in the face of racial incidents several years ago. Meetings and input from the President's Office, Vice President's Office, Office of Diversity Education and Development, Dean of Students, and the Office of Equal Opportunity have resulted in a plan that is due to be announced this spring.
Assessment of Implementation of Task Force Recommendations
The Report of the Task Force on Race divided the recommendations into four priority tiers, and we chose to deal with the Priority One recommendations this year. We sent out initial letters to each office we suggested would be responsible in some way for implementation of the recommendations, then followed up with a form requesting specific information about implementation activities (see Appendix 1). We received responses from all offices (see Appendix 2 for raw data). Based on these, we categorized the recommendation as "complete", "in place" (the new practice or activity should continue and be ongoing), "in progress" (partial implementation has occurred, or planning is occurring), or "no action is necessary" (see Appendix 3). The following is a summary of our evaluation of the status of these activities based on those responses.
- An oversight panel of faculty, administrators, and students should be formed to oversee the implementation of the Task Force's recommendations.
The Panel was formed and has been meeting every two weeks during 1998-99; thus we consider the recommendation complete. It has been working on evaluation of progress on the 24 Priority One recommendations of the Task Force, and has established procedures for selection of student members. The Panel reports publicly at both an open forum for students and at a spring Arts and Sciences faculty meeting, and presents a more detailed report to the President and Vice President in the spring.
- All administration personnel, including the President, Vice Presidents, Provost, Academic and Administrative Deans, Budget and Fiscal Officer, Head of Human Resources, Assistants and Assistant Deans should participate in a workshop that deals exclusively with issues of race awareness and diversity. This workshop should be a two-day commitment that may be modeled after the Teaching Diverse Populations workshops.
We received responses from Mel Bernstein and John DiBiaggio on this recommendation, and have evaluated it as "in place". However, we have several concerns about its implementation.
- There have been 3 such workshops explicitly dealing with diversity conducted over the past 6 years, but no indication of institutionalization of the process. We encourage a statement from the President and Vice President's offices affirming that this will become a regular activity with required participation.
- The facilitators of the workshops have included people internal to Tufts for the most recent workshop, which is counter to the spirit of the recommendation's rationale where a Tufts employee should not manage "a potentially emotionally-charged atmosphere in which the person(s) to whom he or she reports is a participant". These workshops should be run by external consultants, though there may be benefit to a segment of the workshops being run in-house by individuals familiar with unique situations at Tufts.
We strongly suggest that a biannual program of workshops that focuses on change management with respect to awareness of differences (e.g. relations among races, people of different sexual orientations and socioeconomic classes, and between genders) be developed, and that individuals skilled in running change management workshops be asked to facilitate these meetings. These individuals should have experience in institutions of higher education, and should not be affiliated with Tufts.
The Task Force recommendations are mileposts marking change in policies and practices at Tufts, but in order to be meaningful they should reflect changes in fundamental attitudes and ways of thinking that will allow further progress without the need of Task Force-generated recommendations. Such a shift in culture can only happen when those setting policy are genuinely invested in the process, have developed a culturally-sensitive awareness of race and diversity issues, and have the knowledge to implement change that may seem risky. Such workshops can advance all three of these criteria.
Further, we believe that the intent of the recommendation is to lift the workshops beyond the Arts and Sciences level to also include those who influence A&S policy, such as the President and Provost. We would like to have a more concrete pledge that they will also enter into the workshops. Finally, it is important to convey to the community that the administration is participating in such workshops. It speaks, by actions, of the administration's commitment to creating a more welcoming campus, and may have an encouraging effect on others to participate in the various meetings and forums on campus that address diversity issues.
- We recommend the creation of a new Office for Faculty and Staff Education and Development that will develop initiatives to promote race and diversity awareness.
We have assessed this recommendation as "complete", although it was implemented in modified form. The positions are not at the dean level, however they do report directly to Vice President Bernstein, which is important both symbolically and to avoid a filtering and diluting effect between the office and the Vice President. The office is indeed located in Ballou Hall which sets the appropriate tone of serious commitment. The title of the office was changed to reflect the emphasis on diversity rather than a more broad mission, and the office addresses diversity training issues across the whole Tufts community rather that only faculty and staff, both of which we endorse.
The two concerns we have are 1) that the space is just barely adequate, and there is no full time support staff; and 2) the activities of the office should be aggressively advertised so that students and faculty are aware of the efforts the office is undertaking. We strongly encourage that as individual offices and improved space become available in Ballou with the reorganization that will be occurring when the new Student Services offices open, the Office of Diversity Education and Development is consulted for how new space might help their work.
- We recommend that the Office of Equal Opportunity be moved to Ballou Hall.
We have stated that no action is necessary for this recommendation, as persuasive arguments have been made to keep the office separate to preserve the privacy of those who might seek out the OEO officer. However, there are other serious issues that we hope will be addressed regarding this very important office. The current space is very inadequate
and provides for almost no privacy for discussion. Storage space for basic office supplies and space for office equipment is extremely limited, resulting in the reception area also serving as the supply storage space and photocopy/fax work area. The net effect compromises the professional atmosphere of the office. We strongly urge that the space for the OEO be expanded or improved, in consultation with the OEO officer.
A final concern is the change in reporting structure that occurred with the change in OEO officers. The position no longer reports directly to the President as a special assistant. The symbolism of this change is cause for concern. We urge that the OEO officer have regular meetings with the President and sufficient access so that the President be kept informed of the issues and problems that the officer encounters, as these are important in the process of instituting change through the university. This is also a unique opportunity for the President to assimilate information from all the schools, not just Arts and Sciences, on race and diversity.
- Administrators should take every opportunity to incorporate themes of diversity, race, and tolerance in speeches.
We received six responses to our request for information on this recommendation, and are pleased that all seemed to recognize the importance of speaking on diversity issues. We would encourage administrators to "stay on the edge" - to address specific issues in their speeches, that acknowledge both the successes and the problems that Tufts is experiencing. This accomplishes two things: of necessity it keeps administrators abreast of current activities and issues related to diversity at Tufts, and such speeches also portray Tufts in a realistic, dynamic, and honest light that ultimately earn more respect than do speeches that simply mouth the usual platitudes.
We consider this recommendation "in place", but will continue to monitor its implementation.
- To create an intellectual climate that acknowledges the importance of issues of race and ethnicity and that meets the interests of an increasingly diverse student body, we strongly recommend - in addition to encouraging faculty to incorporate United States race and ethnic content in the existing curriculum - the addition of at least three new tenure track positions in American race and ethnic studies, that these positions be split positions between the existing American Studies program and home departments, and that faculty of color are sought for these positions through focused recruitment searches.
We received input from Sol Gittleman, Mel Bernstein, Susan Ernst, Leila Fawaz, and Ioannis Miaoulis. This is one of the most difficult recommendations to implement. It is clear that both faculty and administrators recognize that our faculty and curriculum should "create an intellectual climate that acknowledges the importance of race and ethnicity". However, there are differences in the approaches to fulfilling this ideal.
The Administration has chosen to follow part of this recommendation by seeking to hire faculty of color throughout the disciplines and to hire faculty that will "infuse ethnic perspectives across the curriculum". This is a different action than the original Task Force recommendation to hire three new faculty in American race and ethnic studies. The critical factor in developing such requests for new faculty hires/positions is that they originate with faculty in the departments, who request particular positions, not with the administration. If the requests do not include positions to teach in race and ethnic studies, for example, the Administration cannot mandate departments to hire such faculty. The Administration has strongly encouraged the hiring of faculty of color and women by establishing focused recruitment searches and "window of opportunity" searches, and there has been good success in bringing underrepresented groups into our faculty via these routes.
The hiring of minority faculty thus far has not met the recognized need to fill the curricular gaps in Latino/a studies and Asian American studies - the third part of this recommendation. This spring, the reality of these gaps has finally been widely recognized and accepted through the Administration (though it is less clear that the faculty in general are aware of them). With the release of the study on the curriculum by the EPC in the near future, we hope there may be further impetus to aggressively seek faculty with these specialties. Again, this will require cooperative action from the departments and their faculty, where ownership of the curriculum resides. The Administration alone cannot successfully implement this recommendation.
The Oversight Panel assessed this recommendation as "alternatives are in progress". We heard student concerns about the lack of information on faculty hiring that is supplied to students. Suggestions to remedy this situation included: 1) publishing a complete list of faculty positions that departments request as well as those that have been funded so that the Tufts comunity can better monitor department efforts to diversify the faculty and curriculum; 2) publishing lists of new faculty, faculty who are leaving, and, for those faculty who are willing to release the information, the reason why the faculty member is leaving; and 3) informing the entire community about job searches so that students can more effectively lobby faculty and departments to consider diversity issues while conducting job searches. The Daily and the A&S website were suggested as ways to communicate this information; other methods should be developed as well.
- We recommend, in addition to continued annual offering of the existing Faculty Workshop on Teaching Diverse Populations, the establishment of a faculty development and training program for Curricular and Pedagogical Transformation for An Inclusive Academic Environment no later than the summer of 1999.
Margery Davies and Mel Bernstein responded to this recommendation, which we list as "in place". A description of the activities that the Office of Diversity Education and Development offers includes Faculty/Professional Development Workshops, which we hope will include institution of the curricular transformation activity. There are additional alternative initiatives the ODED has begun that also more indirectly address the spirit of this recommendation, which are commendable, however the Panel will revisit this recommendation in coming years to determine the extent of effort devoted to curricular transformation.
- We recommend that the financial aid initiatives in the Capital Campaign be aggressively pursued, and urge the Development Office to keep this at highest priority in fundraising efforts. Endowed scholarships appropriate for underrepresented groups should receive special attention.
Mel Bernstein, Gary Lowe, and David Cuttino provide information for this recommendation, which we have evaluated as "in place". We are pleased to see specific numbers and goals set forth in their responses. Our concerns are twofold. First, it would be extremely useful for Development to set forth publicly their approaches to realizing their goals and to include students and faculty in the planning and fundraising activities. Both students and faculty could be very helpful in interacting with donors, whether individuals or foundations, to help personalize Tufts as an institution. Again, the lack of communication to students about the fundraising efforts has perpetuated the idea that "no progress is being made" - and with student and faculty help, conceivably far more progress could be made. Second, we strongly encourage that Development be brought into the goals of fundraising to support diversity-related activities, organizations, and programs in an endowed, institutionalized way at Tufts. While this is not an explicit recommendation of the Task Force, this type of extension of a recommendation gets at the heart of the Oversight Panel's concern that the recommendations not be treated as isolated tasks, when there are opportunities to implement practices and policies that further their spirit and intent.
- We recommend that the Orientation Committee restructure Orientation to infuse race and diversity awareness throughout the week, including better utilization of Centers in Orientation, and ways to highlight minority contributions to Tufts and opportunities for students of color.
Bobbie Knable responded to this recommendation, and we have evaluated it as "in progress". The three parts of the recommendation will each be addressed.
In regard to infusing race and diversity awareness, she listed films followed by discussion, the "Voices of the Class of..." essays, the Dean of Students letter, a statement on diversity in the President's Matriculation speech, diversity raised in Residential Life college life programs, effort to raise diversity in a movie offered, and efforts to better integrate Center peer advisors.
We have concerns about how incoming students perceive Tufts' commitment to diversity. We question that the only significant part of the week devoted to race and diversity issues is the "Many Voices, One Community" panel as the diversity activity during Orientation. Many first year students very much enjoy hearing about the experiences of racially diverse Tufts students, but do not take it seriously. We are concerned that it is so student-driven and that too much responsibility for the issues is thrust on the small group of "representative" students. It is late at night and viewed by some to be more entertainment than educational or exploratory. There is no context or framing provided by the administration. There is no statement of commitment of the university to diversity articulated at the panel's presentation. Any event that made clear the university's position on diversity as well as one that encouraged students to explore their own experiences and beliefs might better serve incoming students.
A suggestion from a student offers an alternative structure for the panel presentation. Rather than having two mammoth sessions of the panel, with over 600 students attending each, develop a number of panels presenting to smaller groups. Immediately following the presentations, discussion could be facilitated within the groups. A more intimate setting, earlier in the evening, is more conducive to productive and meaningful engagement in the race/diversity issues raised.
In reference to better utilization of the Centers, Dean Knable noted that Center directors are involved in their own programs, in addition to training peer leaders, orientation of R.A.s through dessert nights, and involvement with panelists of "Many Voices".
We have concerns about her comment that it would be difficult to see how an Open House for all Centers during Orientation Week could be fit in. Although it may work to host it during Extended Orientation Week, we see it as important that the Centers are promoted for use of all students and that Culture Centers and groups be seen as primary instead of peripheral to Orientation. We also note that R.A.s have expressed the need and desire to be trained more throughly on issues of diversity, both before the year begins and throughout the year.
For the last part of the recommendation, highlighting minority contributions to Tufts and opportunities, Dean Knable responded that they have invited additional singing groups to perform at Orientation and hope to offer a diverse mini-variety show.
We recognize this change and improvement. It has come to our attention that only certain members of groups are allowed to return which has caused divisiveness among groups. It has been suggested by students that they be allowed to return to the dorms without a full meal plan so costs could be maintained and full groups could return. This seems like a reasonable and fair alternative.
We encourage the Orientation committee meet with an outside consultant to assess how best to infuse diversity into Orientation as a whole and prevent it from becoming a token or peripheral issue. The consultant could help determine whether the "Many Voices" panel could be reframed to be more relevant, meaningful, and educational to students. One initial activity to assist in this process would be for an evaluation of how effectively race/diversity issues are dealt with in Orientation, perhaps both through a self-evaluation process in the Orientation committee and through an evaluation of the panel program by the students.
- A calendar of activities, designed for first-year students, should be promoted as a form of extended orientation, which would have the further benefit of allowing the new class to build a sense of its own identity and unity. The events should be selected to showcase the diversity of students on campus.
Margery Davies and Bobbie Knable responded to this recommendation, which we evaluated as "in progress". Ms. Davies responded that the Office of Diversity Education and Development is working on a Diversity Calendar to provide a comprehensive listing of educational events related to diversity which is expected to be launched in the academic year 1999-2000.
The Calendar appears to be a listing of events and not specific events programed for Extended Orientation. Dean Knable reiterated the diverse singing groups and mini-variety show activities that the Orientation Committee is trying to arrange for Orientation and Extended Orientation respectively. These two efforts are important first steps to a calendar of activities for Extended Orientation.
- The University should invite a variety of (student performing) groups for performances at official events, perhaps on some rotating system.
Mel Bernstein and Bobbie Knable responded to this recommendation, which we evaluated as "in progress". Vice-President Bernstein responded that we should see the response from Dean of Students Office. Dean Knable responded that the recommendation should be directed to other offices, such as Alumni and Commencement, as her office is only partially directing Orientation. This information will be gathered for a future report. Therefore, we can not be sure that the recommendation is "in progress". It might better be deemed "progress currently unknown". From our understanding, events like Parents' Weekend and Alumni Weekend this year were entertained by Tufts traditional, primarily white, performing groups. This recommendation must be reevaluated in terms of responsible offices, and more fundamentally, the mechanisms by which inclusiveness of student groups at important events can be institutionalized.
- There should be an immediate response from the administration if an evident misrepresentation or malicious report is published in the student media without appropriate commentary.
This recommendation originates from Task Force concerns regarding the preservation of the autonomy of campus publications (in particular the various student media), while increasing their reliance upon professional standards to guide
their decisions. The Oversight Panel received responses from Mel Bernstein and Bobbie Knable. It is clear that the administration see as its "...responsibility to provide timely and accurate information and to set the record straight whenever we are made aware of inappropriate, misleading, or inaccurate information." There was concern expressed that administrators might not be aware of all published inaccuracies because of the large number of student publications. However, there is a clear recognition of the obligation of administrative response in known cases of misrepresentation or malicious reports.
The Oversight Panel's assessment is that this recommendation is "in place". It is not stated how the implementation of this recommendation will be communicated, on an ongoing basis, to the Tufts community. Perhaps this could be done as part of an administrative policy on response to racial issues, published annually in appropriate University (Arts and Sciences) literature.
- A response team should be created that is responsible for promptly responding to racial incidents on campus. Efforts should be enhanced to communicate the racial incident reporting process to students, and the campus reporting process should highlight the President's "no intolerance" policy.
This recommendation was one of the first to receive Oversight Panel attention. We have had discussions with Bobbie Knable and Bruce Reitman, and input from Barbara Wooten and Margery Davies, concerning the importance and logistics of implementing this recommendation. An Administrative Response Team, responsible for promptly responding to racial incidents on campus, is in the final planning stages and is scheduled to be announced by the end of Spring 1999. However, as of early May it has not been accomplished. The Panel is aware of continuing administrative activity in this regard and fully expects an announcement of the creation of this important Team soon. When put into place, its membership and procedures should be announced widely (the joint responsibility of the President's office, the office of the Vice President for Arts, Sciences, and Technology, and the A&S Office of Diversity Education and Development. The Panel also strongly encourages that the Response Team's composition and procedures be published annually for the entire community in the appropriate University literature.
- Ways to inform students about their recourse when faced with racist or discriminatory behavior should be instituted, including formal written complaint procedures.
This recommendation arose from the need to revise and complement the information on existing procedures published in the Pachyderm and in the Bigotry pamphlet. The response from Bobbie Knable states that "These written communications have been revised and agreed to by the students from the Cultural and Ethnic Affairs Committee on the TCU Senate, who originally raised the issue. The Pachyderm and the Bigotry brochure are distributed to all incoming students in their Orientation packet and both are on the Web. Wider distribution will be initiated through the residence halls and the Campus Center this fall" (Fall 1999).
The Oversight Panel recognizes this as a first step in implementing this recommendation. The Dean of Students Office should continue to monitor and assess whether the spirit of the recommendation, i.e., "to prepare a user-friendly' explanation of the racial harassment policy and student recourse" is in fact being achieved. In addition to putting these documents on the Web, the Task Force Report suggests finding "ways to disseminate this information periodically throughout the year" (not just at Orientation). Such avenues might include "educational and social programs,... dorm meetings and workshops, and reminders in certain courses, where appropriate."
- There must be an immediate response from the administration when racial incidents occur. This is not to interfere or pre-empt the adjudication of the incident, but the student community, especially in a residence hall, needs some assistance immediately.
The Oversight Panel interprets this recommendation as a specific case (racial incidents in the residence halls) that underlines the need and importance of implementing recommendation 13 through the establishment of the Administrative Response Team. The recommendation recognizes that R.A.s need immediate assistance to respond to such incidents when they occur in the residence halls. The Panel expects that the procedures developed in recommendation 13 for the Administrative Response Team will include rapid response to residence hall incidents.
- Campus Police need further racial awareness training, judging from certain instances that occurred last year (1996), including the targeting of minority students for questioning on party nights.
John King of Public Safety and Barbara Wooten of the Office of Equal Opportunity have collaborated in the design of a training curriculum for campus police. This program will be incorporated in the department's annual in-service training program which will occur before September 1999. Mr King will be responsible for communicating the results of this training program to the larger Tufts community.
We refer to this recommendation as "in progress", and would offer a couple of suggestions to help provide data for the future. One of the concerns that students of color have voiced is that parties at the culture houses tend to be broken up by the police far more often than parties at other campus locations, such as the frat houses. There is no documentation for this, however the repeated anecdotal evidence suggests a problem Therefore, we suggest that any party that is broken up by the police should be recorded both by the police in official reports and by students through registering the fact with some administrative office (the OEO, Dean of Students, Culture Centers, for example) so that there is a clear paper record of the event that could be cross-checked if needed. We also strongly encourage the reporting of any stop that the police make to check ID of students on campus, to verify or refute the allegation that students of color are disproportionately stopped for identification.
- Tufts should not move in a direction to consolidate the Culture Centers into a single, multicultural unit.
The impetus for this recommendation was the concern in 1996 that Tufts was considering consolidating the Centers, though no such proposal was ever actually advanced. Bobbie Knable responded that no plans are under consideration, and we assess that there is "no action necessary".
- The Culture Centers should be strengthened and supported so that they can enhance their work at developing community among the students of color, as well as among all students at the University.
We received responses from Mel Bernstein, Margery Davies, and Bobbie Knable and have evaluated this recommendation as "in place". An important first step in the strengthening and support of the Culture Centers has been the increase in their budgets for the next fiscal year. Other initiatives have been the summer support from the Vice President that will provide student internships and the separate accounts set up by Development to direct donations to the Centers.
We applaud these efforts, yet want to encourage continued aggressive support for the Centers. The difficulties of expanding space and facilities, for example, are clear, yet it might be relatively inexpensive to do creative renovation of existing space. We suggest that on-campus space planners and architectural consultants might be able to develop a reconfiguration of space in Capen House, Start House, and the Latino Center that would allow better utilization of the room available for programming and office needs.
This is one of the recommendations that the Oversight Panel will monitor closely through the coming years, as the Centers are so integral to the needs of the Tufts student community.
- Funding for more cultural programming and speakers should be increased for the Centers, to produce larger programs that would have more of a draw for the entire Tufts community. and Visibility of the Centers should be enhanced through co-sponsorship of events funded by the Vice President's office and other Tufts administrators, such as bringing a major speaker to campus who will talk about issues of race and diversity.
The Provost provides more than $6000 per year for the Black Cultural faculty program. Continued funding for such faculty development is assured and Prof. Penvenne as chair of this program is responsible for communicating this initiative to the larger Tufts community - along with the faculty as a whole. In addition, Marjory Davies of the Office of Diversity Education and Development, has begun to work with the Centers on new programming. She is preparing a proposal for a Vice President's Race and Diversity Speaker Series (tentative title) which would provide major campus-wide race and diversity education programming in AY1999-2000. We strongly encourage the inclusion of students on the board or committee that selects the themes and speakers.
During the past academic year, the Vice President and other Tufts administrators cosponsored several events that brought major speakers to campus who talked about issues of race and diversity. Kwesie Mfume of the NAACP and Prof. Cornell West were two examples.
Finally, the Lincoln Filene Center for Citizenship and Public Affairs has launched an initiative aimed at race and diversity. The Center has identified "Race, Democracy and Citizenship" as one of its integrative research and development themes. The aim is to engage a broad range of individual scholars, wide exploration of a topic of compelling social relevance and immediacy. Such exploration will take the form of basic and applied research, teaching, conferences, publications and community and corporate action oriented projects and collaborations. The Center also serves as the convener and secretariat for some forty faculty from area universities concerned about university-community relationships. African American Scholars for Citizenship and Community, will continue to involve Tufts faculty, students and staff in its meetings and projects.
- Operating budgets for the Centers should be increased so that more personalized Orientation activities can be implemented. These activities should include efforts at welcoming students prior to arriving on campus, and for programs during "extended Orientation", as described in the Orientation section.
The respondents to this recommendation are Mel Bernstein, Wayne Bouchard, and Bobbie Knable. The enhanced budgets for the Centers (see recommendation 19) may allow funds for a 2-day Orientation program, and it is left to the Center Directors to decide what format is most appropriate for their students. We list this recommendation as "in progress", as the funding is not available until the next fiscal year. We encourage funding to be maintained at levels that will preserve these activities in future years.
- Pamphlets describing the missions, services, and activities at the Culture Centers should be circulated to all students, especially prospective and incoming students (both students of color and white students). As this is information about important resources for all students at Tufts, the Centers should be furnished with the funds to produce such pamphlets.
This recommendation addresses Task Force concerns that white students and faculty do not feel welcome at the Culture Centers and Houses, and that this sentiment can easily promote separation of students of color from the rest of the community. The Oversight Panel received responses from Wayne Bouchard (Dean of Administration) and Bobbie Knable (Dean of Students) delineating the plan to implement this recommendation by Fall 1999.
The Oversight Panel's assessment is that this recommendation is "in progress". Culture Center directors have been asked to prepare " ...brochures describing their centers, functions, and offerings", and funds have been "included in the increased Center budgets sufficient to cover distribution to incoming students" (Dean Knable's response), while distribution to prospective students is to be financed by Admissions. The Panel also strongly urges that the pamphlets be distributed to all faculty members and advisors. While plans for implementing this recommendation are in place, the Dean of Students Office must continue to monitor and assess whether the pamphlets do in fact serve to inform the community at large about the functions of the Culture Centers.
- The undergraduate admissions bulletin for prospective students should be rewritten to clearly articulate the distinctions between the Culture Centers and the Culture Houses.
This recommendation originates from concerns that the Culture Centers and Houses are often mistakenly regarded as one and the same, when in fact, they are separate entities. According to the response from Dean Knable, the distinction has already been clarified in the 1998-99 Bulletin. In the Oversight Panel's assessment, this recommendation has been
implemented. However, the implementation of this recommendation needs to be communicated to the Tufts community, perhaps as part of a report on the administration's response to racial issues.
- There should be a more extensive training available for all R.A.s on issues of racism, and it should be ongoing, in terms of focus groups or brush-up sessions.
This recommendation addresses concerns raised by Resident Advisors regarding the adequacy of their training on issues of racism. Dean Knable responded to this recommendation stating that the office will review existing training for Resident Advisors that takes place during Orientation and begin planning follow-up sessions during the summer. The Oversight Panel considers this recommendation "in progress", and emphasizes the need for continued assessment of the training to be implemented in Fall 1999.
This is a particularly important recommendation because residences are the best "venue for social mixing and for establishing a good fellow feeling" (Task Force Report, 1997). The Dean of Students Office is encouraged to utilize the expertise of consultants from within Tufts and outside Tufts to ensure careful planning of the training program for Resident Advisors.
Consideration of Graduate Students
Upon overseeing the implementation of the recommendations from the Task Force on Race, it has become apparent that some of the issues that affect undergraduate students are also relevant to students completing masters and doctoral programs. It has also become apparent that the focus and range of graduate student perspectives may deserve to be formulated and considered independently since a number of issues pertaining to graduate student life were not addressed in the original report of the Task Force. In light of the need to further understand these issues from a graduate student perspective, the Oversight Panel would add and give high priority to a further recommendation: That a separate committee or task force be established to study the experience and issues affecting graduate students of color at Tufts. Such a committee would gather data on the concerns and needs of graduate students and issue its own recommendations. The Oversight Panel then could work with the graduate school, relevant deans, faculty and staff to ensure the appropriate implementation of such recommendations. Examples of issues that affect graduate students in particular are discussed below.
- Creating a welcoming climate for teaching assistants of color. Subtle problems sometimes come up in the relationships that TAs of color have with professors, with other TAs, and with their undergraduate students. For example, the accents and teaching styles or TAs of color can elicit complaints from undergraduate students. Undergraduates may reject an unfamiliar teaching style of they may complain that the accents of international TAs of color are hard to understand. Overall, these complaints may result in a lack of acceptance of the authority of TAs of color. Conversely, white TAs may not be as sensitive or responsive to the unfamiliar behaviors and needs of students of color or of their fellow TAs of color.
Similar dynamics may be in place between professors and TAs of color whereby professors may inadvertently assign tasks of less responsibility to TAs of color than to other TAs with whose style they are more familiar.
- Social support. Graduate students come to Tufts from all over the country and have no friends or family around. Yet, there are no culture houses for graduate students. Social networks are limited to their own departments if they have one. Some graduate student organizations (GSOs) affiliated with the Graduate Student Council have been formed to address this deficit. Yet, the nature of graduate student life makes it very difficult to maintain an ongoing flow of activities organized by graduate students.
- Mentorship. Graduate students of color do not find many students or professors from their own background at Tufts. More than undergraduates, graduate students tend to be confined to their own departments. This makes it hard to meet professors from other departments who may be from their own background and play a mentorship role in getting students into both professional and social loops which may serve as support networks.
- Financial aid. Some of these issues are similar to those facing undergraduate students, such as the use of financial aid to attract quality minority students. One major difference applies to doctoral students whose packages may not sustain them through the completion of the dissertation. It might be useful to look at how different departments use financial aid as an incentive to attract minority students and to identify best practices and packages that may be replicated in other departments. Again, here it might help to look at packages offered by Tufts' competitors.
Oversight Panel Reporting to the Community
The results of our efforts are being communicated in three ways. First, we presented an abbreviated summary of our evaluation of implementation activities at a student forum on April 22, 1999. Student turnout was light, in part because of inadequate advertising and in part because it was a very busy time, shortly before the end of the semester. The students who were there contributed insightful comments, intense discussion, and thoughtful suggestions, and we are grateful for their input. Our second avenue of communication is a report to the Arts and Sciences faculty at a May meeting. The third, and most detailed, is through this report. We strongly encourage that this report be made public in full, perhaps through posting on the Web.
The Task Force recommendations were designed to begin the long, difficult process of change at Tufts to develop a more inclusive, welcoming environment for students. Change brings feeling of discomfort, hesitancy, insecurity, and even resentment, yet will result in a stronger university. Implementation of the recommendations and the attendant change is not expected to happen over a short period of time, and it is expected to be an iterative process, with frequent evaluation and modification of activities that bring about change.
Our work shows that the 24 Priority One recommendations are all in some stage of implementation, but we urge that responsible offices critically self-evaluate their own progress and not fall into complacency because a recommendation is "Complete", "In Place", or "In Progress". Those terms simply mean that a practice or policy has been enacted, but the true measure of the worth of the activity is whether it is accomplishing the spirit of the recommendation. The Oversight Panel will continue to monitor these and other recommendations, but it is essential that the responsible offices develop their own practice of monitoring and evaluation and make adjustments as needed. We do not want to the recommendations forgotten after they are labeled "complete".
Our hope is that as material progress is made to improve the climate at Tufts, the level of discourse about race and diversity can be raised to more thoughtful, analytical levels. We need to address and remediate years of hurt and benign neglect in order to establish trust among the students, faculty, and administration before more meaningful dialog and trusting cooperation become the norm.