In February, a small group of undergraduate students known as the STEAM Collective outlined a number of concerns and demands. In response, university administrators and faculty proposed, scheduled and staffed numerous forums to discuss each demand. These forums were open campuswide, although student attendance beyond representatives from the STEAM Collective was low.

These demands were a reminder that the work currently being done by students, faculty and administrators can be better communicated to our campus community. There has been an ongoing history of activism on campus that has helped to inspire continued growth and improvement as an institution.

Willamette University is a deeply caring, if imperfect, institution: one strongly committed to continuous self-improvement. As scholars and educators, we strive to better understand our shared history with other communities and groups and to work for a more equitable and inclusive campus community, both now and in the future.

Collectively, our actions and attitudes should reflect Willamette’s core values. For that, we are accountable to each other. Individually and together, we are empowered to effect meaningful changes to improve the university.

It is critical that student voices are heard and considered, that the university demonstrates that we care about what students think and how they feel.

That is why university administrative and governance structures are designed to incorporate students in virtually every area of campus decision-making — from budget, to curriculum, to student life, to multicultural affairs.

Student representatives from the College of Liberal Arts, Atkinson Graduate School of Management and the College of Law are invited to serve on numerous university committees, including various search committees for staff and faculty, as well as on the Board of Trustees and its committees. Currently, there are more than twenty university-wide and CLA faculty committees whose membership includes ASWU-appointed undergraduate students.

Additionally, the ASWU president, Atkinson Student Association president, and president of the Student Bar Association serve on University Council and have regular one-on-one meetings with the Provost. The ASWU president also meets periodically with the President, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, the VP for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, the Dean of Students, and serves on College Council.

Elected student leaders at each of the three schools - as well as the representatives they appoint to various university committees - are expected to communicate student concerns to administrators, staff, and faculty, and to report back to students on the issues and activities under discussion, the same way that faculty and staff committee members communicate with their constituents. See ASWU bylaws.

This past academic year, several university committees were without ASWU-appointed student representatives.

Additionally, individual undergraduate students, whether or not they are involved in ASWU, also have many other ways to engage in dialogue with administrators, to ask questions, or to raise concerns. These include

  • Open office hours or scheduled meetings with the Dean of Students, VP for Student Affairs, VP of EDI, CLA Dean, university Provost and university President;
  • Ex-Officio lunches for students and administrators hosted by the Dean of Students
  • Regular small group dinner meetings with Vice President for Student Affairs
  • ASWU (points 4 and 5 on the ASWU “about” page; which also includes a student suggestion form)
  • Council on Diversity and Social Justice (includes an online message form)
  • Bias Incident Reporting System
  • Title IX reporting system
  • Several department and issue specific advisory committees, including Trans* Advocacy Committee, Ex-Officio Committee, GRAC Advisory Committee, Bishop Wellness Center Advisory Committee, Accessible Education Committee, E&E Advisory Committee, Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and TIX Advisory Committee, among others
  • Office of Multicultural Affairs (bullets 3-4 on the About page)
  • Campus Climate Survey and other university student surveys

It is clear the university needs to find more effective ways to communicate through various channels and existing policies and procedures as well as the opportunities available to all students for seeking redress of complaints, registering concerns or otherwise effecting changes to the university.

What follows are summaries of each forum as well as next steps for continuing to work towards solutions as best we can, along with factual information as appropriate to counter misinformation and misperceptions that have emerged along the way.

NOTE: To comply with FERPA, federal law protecting student privacy, participating students’ names have been withheld.

For more information, contact:
Jade Aguilar, VP for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
3rd Floor, Putnam University Center
503-370-6195
aguilarj@willamette.edu.

Campus discussion forum summaries, by topic

March 21st - Eaton 4th floor conference room

Attendance

Jade Aguilar, Facilitator, VP EDI
Student, STEAM Representative and NISU President
Student, incoming NISU President
Rebecca Dobkins, Anthropology faculty
Ruth Feingold, Dean of CLA
Reyna Meyers, Admin Assistant to NAP
Vellena Howard, Director of the Chemawa Indian School Partnership Program
Jenny Jopp, History faculty
Kristen Grainger, Special Assistant to the President & Acting Chief Communications Officer

Agenda

STEAM concerns were on the delay of the Land Acknowledgement statement and the need for the return of a full-time Native American Program Director.

Responds to which STEAM demand

“WHEREAS Willamette University has failed to reinstitute the full-time Director of Native American Programs position and has contributed to the continued delay of appropriate and timely actions on recent requests for an official Land Acknowledgement. A Land Acknowledgment must be institutionalized to recognize the role of this University in the process of ongoing colonialism, the dispossession of Kalapuya territory, the legacy of the University's early connections to Indigenous students, and the existence and experiences of past, present, and future Indigenous students;...”

“There must be an official institutional Land Acknowledgment to recognize the Kalapuya land that the University colonially occupies and the full-time Director of Native American Programs position must be reinstituted.”

Response

Many Willamette community members recognize the importance of our relationship to Native communities, and of our having curriculum and programming related to Native and Indigenous issues. This is reflected in many ways across campus. After the resignation of our first full-time Native American Programs Director, we hired a staff member at 25 hours per week to continue directing the Chemawa Indian School tutoring program, which had been a major part of the Director’s portfolio.

Land acknowledgements have often been part of important Willamette events but have not been uniform or consistently applied. A land acknowledgement task force was created in January 2019 and has been meeting regularly to research and work on developing a university statement.

Discussion Highlights

Our conversation centered on the history of Willamette University and our relationship and responsibility to Indigenous communities of the area. We also discussed the more recent history of the development of the Director of Native American Programs, the years of work that went into creating that position, and the loss that Native students and the Native community felt when that position was reduced to a part-time role. The VP EDI acknowledged that it is not possible to create a timeline for reinstating a full-time position without a full assessment of student needs and financial capacity. Finally, we discussed the importance and role of a Land Statement.

Next steps

  1. The land acknowledgment task force (appointed by the Council on Diversity & Social Justice) is working to have a land acknowledgment ready to use for the 2019 Commencement.
  2. Ruth Feingold, Dean of the CLA, will continue to consider strategies for expanding resources in support of Native students and programs as part of a comprehensive plan  to address student needs. She will communicate regularly with Native American Programs about the status of this request.

Two university committees exist to support Native and Indigenous initiatives on campus: the Native American Programs committee (meets monthly) and the Native American Advisory Council (meets once a semester). Interested students are welcome to join either of these committees.

Get involved

Note: This was not a public forum but a series of mediated discussions among faculty and students.

Responds to which STEAM demand

“AND WHEREAS the theatre faculty and respective administration have not adequately responded to issues of sexual harassment among their student body despite theatre being an inherently intimate art form that requires extra care in issues regarding harassment and assault. Student requests and concerns voiced after the strike have not been acted upon and students out of work have not been compensated.

“Students who are affected by the theatre strike must be paid a stipend equitable to their lost wages to cover their lost wages, as the shows were unilaterally canceled.”

Additional information

The theatre department faculty and staff response to this matter followed university protocol and policy in both letter and spirit, and faculty went to great pains to create an environment in which students felt comfortable. In response to student concerns, at the beginning of the spring semester, the faculty laid out in detail new safety, reporting and advocacy procedures for department productions, based on the CTS (Chicago Theatre Standards: www.notinourhouse.org).

They also made a commitment to clear and transparent reporting process for any concerns appropriately handled within the department, as well as creating a new production position (Non-Equity Deputy) whose role was to be a liaison between students and faculty, and to advocate for those within the process. A faculty member with more than twenty years of professional experience staging intimacy and violence was in regular attendance at rehearsals throughout the duration of the project, and other faculty visited rehearsals as well. Frequent check-ins with personnel at all levels of production were also carried out on a regular basis through a variety of means, ranging from individual contacts to regularly held stage-management meetings. A guest artist intimacy director was also contracted for the project.

The spring season was cancelled because students performing in the first production decided to strike. Without their participation, the show could not go on. And, as faculty explained to them before they made the decision to strike, the box office receipts from the first show were essential to pay for the mounting of the second show. The faculty worked promptly to develop alternative programming for the semester, so students would not lose out on their educational experience, but the students declined to participate.

Without shows to mount, there has also been minimal work available in the department studios and box office, in which many students are employed. Available hours have been given, first, to students who were not involved in the decision to strike, but who nonetheless suffered the consequences. It is not possible for the university to pay students for hours they have not worked, as this would require the falsification of records and jeopardize our participation in the federal work study program. A portion of the student wage budget from the department has been reallocated to other units on campus, with new campus jobs advertised through Handshake. Some students formerly employed by Theatre have chosen to apply for these positions and have gotten new jobs.

Since the cancellation of the season, the faculty and university have continued to work to resolve student concerns. Faculty have have met with students weekly to engage in a departmental rewrite of the student handbook. An external mediator has met with students and faculty multiple times to help the department move forward. Administrators and staff have met with students to listen to their concerns and provide training on university procedures and legal rights.

March 13th, 2019 - Autzen Conference Room

Attendees

Jade Aguilar, Facilitator, Title IX Coordinator, VP EDI
Professor Hobgood, CLA faculty rep to Committee
Andrea Hugmeyer, Confidential Advocate, Director of the Gender Resource Center
Don Thomson, Director of Bishop Wellness
Student, SHAPE and SARA Representative
Leslie Shevlin, Associate Athletic Director and Athletic Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Domanic Thomas, Dean of Students and Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Student, STEAM representative

Agenda

The STEAM Collective’s concern was that Willamette has a singular and inadequate sexual misconduct policy that does not foster a positive campus culture of consensual sexuality and protects assailants.

Responds to which STEAM demand

“AND WHEREAS Willamette University currently has a singular and inadequate sexual misconduct policy that does not foster a positive campus culture of consensual sexuality and protects assailants actively enrolled, re-enrolling, as well as transferring into the university;...

“A Sexual Offense Prevention Policy that is education-centered, includes a clear definition of consent with clarifying points, and violations of policy with timely responses to violations. This campus-wide policy should operate alongside existing Willamette University policies and should be reviewed and signed by all faculty members and students in their first year.”

Discussion Highlights

The discussion was part of the university’s Title IX Advisory Committee meeting. It focused on the history and current status of the 2014 Taskforce Report on Sexual Misconduct and the evolution of the Title IX process since that time, including clarification on the roles of the Title IX Coordinator and the Deputy Coordinators. Further discussion on students’ perception on the lack of clarity of the consent policy and that it is difficult to locate on the Willamette website. Finally, a STEAM representative shared their desire for more options, such as restorative justice options, for resolving sexual misconduct infractions that do not reach the threshold of a policy violation.

Next steps to be addressed by the existing Title IX Advisory Committee:

  1. Improve our web presence for issues of sexual misconduct and sexual violence prevention. STEAM investigated other school’s models and made recommendations. A thorough evaluation of our Website needs to be conducted and additional resources added. Consent language needs to be clearer and not buried on the website. The Title IX process should be easy to understand.
  2. Investigate the possibility of a restorative justice process for certain kinds of sexual misconduct, in partnership with Willamette’s new restorative justice student org.
  3. Sexual violence prevention programs will be strengthened. Faculty teaching College Colloquium (WU first-year student experience) will receive specific training about consent during the annual workshop, and faculty will work on incorporating the tenets of the U Got this! video into the classroom. Students will receive training on consent as a part of the 4th hour of College Colloquium (to be piloted Fall ‘19).
  4. Vice President of EDI Jade Aguilar, Professor Allison Hobgood, Confidential Advocate Andrea Doyle Hugmeyer, Bishop's Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Liaison and Diversity and Inclusion Liaison, and interested students are currently collaborating on a "Consent Across the Curriculum" program with faculty more broadly.

Additional information

Response

Willamette’s Title IX policy has a clear definition of consent: “The university defines consent as an informed, freely given and actively communicated willingness to participate in sexual activity, expressed by mutually understandable, unambiguous words or actions.” http://willamette.edu/offices/policies/selected/students/sexual-conduct.html

The policy also includes timelines for responding to reports of Title IX violations, and requires training for all employees as well as prevention and response resources and education for students.

The university-wide Title IX Advisory Committee (TIX) meets monthly to ensure campus wide coordination of Title IX compliance and best practice efforts to prevent and respond to Title IX matters. The committee chair is the Willamette University Title IX Coordinator. Membership includes Title IX Deputies (student, athletic, and employee), Director of Bishop Wellness, Director of Campus Safety, Director of Res Life, SARA representative, Athletic Director and General Counsel, as needed. In addition, the Committee includes two faculty members and one to two student representatives, appointed by ASWU.

The committee discusses proposed policy, prevention and response efforts, as well as the implementation of the President’s Working Group on Sexual Assault and Harassment recommendations. The committee regularly reviews data, training materials, and best practices regarding Title IX compliance. Other interested students are welcome to attend.

TIX Advisory Board meeting April 10th - Continued discussion on any clarification needs on the current definition of consent. Desire to have a “value” statement or pledge that students would actively sign prior to or at arrival on campus (Antioch has something like this). TIX Advisory Committee student representatives and a STEAM member met again with the Dean of Students on April 18th to further clarify policy and website language.

Get involved

Monday, March 11, Parents Conference Room

Attendees

Lisa Holliday, Associate Dean of Students & Facilitator
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, STEAM Representative
Sarah Kirk, Professor of Chemistry and Faculty Associate Dean
Leslie Shevlin, Associate Athletics Director
Student, FSL intern
Student, Panhellenic President
Student, Interfraternity Council President
Student, FSL intern
Tyler Reich, Associate VP for Alumni Relations
Student, STEAM Representative

Agenda

  1. Introductions
  2. What prompted STEAM?
  3. Testimonials from students
  4. Examples of reviews at peer institutions

Responds to which STEAM demand

“AND WHEREAS Greek Life on campus has committed a multitude of negative actions that have directly altered the welfare and safety of students within and external to its entity in the past 5 years. A lack of administrative and institutional responses to affiliated students who exhibit actions that place others in danger—including multiple instances racism, racial intolerance of people of color, sexual assault and unhealthy alcohol consumption habits—allows these students and their harmful behavior to go unchecked...”

“A review of Greek life on campus must be conducted by an unbiased, third party as soon as possible. Paying close attention to occurrences within the past 5 years from students within Greek life, attitudes towards them by respective administrators, and how they have contributed to the current and ongoing campus climate. This review shall work to create a campus-wide conversation about the effectiveness of Greek life at Willamette and present Students for Transparency, Equity, Accountability through Mobilization (STEAM) Collective information that will speak to if it should remain on campus. Respective administrators must take action based upon the findings of this review. “

Discussion Highlights

STEAM distributed an agenda and report for the Review of Greek Life. The report was a “compilation of where Willamette University is in regards to FSL and what prompted STEAM to create this as a demand.” The assembled group took a few minutes to review the contents of the document before it was reviewed verbally. This document is in the Google folder.

Lisa Holliday shared her initial thoughts about the review of fraternity/sorority life. She shared the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) website link with the group. CAS is considered the gold standard in student affairs assessment and review. They provide assessment documents for all areas of student affairs, including FSL. CAS is currently updating their documents and they won’t be available until late March. Lisa is on an email list to receive notification when the document is ready for purchase.

Lisa has reached out to potential third party reviewers who have experience working with CAS standards and small, private liberal arts universities. There is also a local alumnus who may be interested.

Next steps

  • When we have a copy of the new standards, Lisa will distribute to the group for review. The hope is to come to an agreement at the next meeting regarding standards, reviewers and timing for the review (most likely early Fall 2019).

Second meeting

Wednesday, April 10, Autzen Conference Room

Attendees

Lisa Holliday, Associate Dean of Students & Facilitator
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, STEAM Representative
Sarah Kirk, Professor of Chemistry and Faculty Associate Dean
Leslie Shevlin, Associate Athletics Director
Student, FSL intern
Student, Panhellenic President
Student, Interfraternity Council President
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, STEAM Representative
Jeremy Bogan, VP of Enrollment & Dean of Admission

Agenda

  1. Review CAS Standards for Fraternity & Sorority Life Programs
  2. Review potential third party reviewers

Discussion Highlights

Lisa distributed the CAS Standards for FSLP in advance of the meeting. The group overall was comfortable with the document being used as the standards for the review. The STEAM representatives wanted to make sure the external impact (meaning impact on unaffiliated students) is also addressed during the review.

Best practices for external CAS reviews were discussed. Lisa will contact the CAS office for guidance on the preferred number of reviewers and whether the reviewers are certified by them. Further, she will reach out to the potential reviewers to request their resumes and schools where they have conducted external reviews.

The group will meet one more time before the end of the term to finalize the details of the review. The Office of Student Activities will take responsibility for organizing the logistics of the visit over the summer. Members of the group were asked to submit lists of students and student organizations that should be invited to meet with the reviewers.

Next meeting is scheduled for April 23 at 5pm in Autzen Conference Room.

Next steps

  • Lisa will contact the CAS office and contact potential reviewers to request resumes

Get involved

03/22/19 Academic Affairs Conference room

Attendees

Student, STEAM representative
Student, STEAM representative
Student, STEAM representative
Meredy Goldberg Edelson, CLA faculty president
Don Thomson, Director, Bishop Wellness Center
Jade Aguilar, VP for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
Kelvin Clark, Director of the Learning Center
Domanic Thomas, Dean of Students

Agenda

Steam Collective’s concerns were that the BIAS reporting process is unclear to students and that the responses offered are sometimes insufficient.

Responds to which STEAM demand

“AND WHEREAS Willamette University exhibits a lack of policies for racially biased/ racially-based grievances; clear and concise policies, steps and protocols with timely responses for students who come forward with culturally and racially-based grievances and related issues. The bias reporting system is a protocol, not a policy, and has inadequate institutional support and response.”

“Policies for racially-based/racially biased incidences, such as but not limited to cultural appropriation, must be instituted to address when students and student-led organizations engage in racist practices.”

Discussion Highlights

Restorative Justice - Students outlined a concern in wanting an option such as this in reporting. While education and follow up has been a part of reporting, more restorative options are desired. Policy vs. process distinction was discussed. Policy determines what is a “violation” and has basis in federal standards (see harassment policy). Process for what is done focuses on opportunities for education and working to make those impacted and involved whole (sub-fireable/suspendable incidents). Clarification - Clarification on the front end of the reporting site being worked on for those seeking this option. We may be looking at an anchor placed early on (to skip to the form portion) and collapse the FAQs.

2nd Bias Response meeting

Tuesday, April 16th

Continued discussion on how the university can respond regarding “group/org” behavior vs the individual student. Survey results compiled by students to gain additional feedback on perception of the bias report. Many felt like it was confusing, not punitive enough, some would like offenders to be made to apologize, concerns over SOC being targeted based on their social media posts (confirmed no such reports made in system), and desire to have university statements condemning certain behaviors.

Next steps

The Council on Diversity and Social Justice will take the lead in:

  1. Discussing a pledge or values statement that might be an option to lift up/reaffirm commitment at the start of the year (students and faculty).
  2. Continuing to update and clarify what a bias report does and doesn’t do. Develop additional FAQs on the website that would help community members understand what the process is and isn’t.
  3. Utilizing the CDSJ group to continue the work of exploring resources for education, restorative practices, and response moving forward.
  4. Researching model policies related to cultural appropriation.

Additional information

STEAM concern

The university has no policies to address racial bias, discrimination or harassment. “Policies for racially-based/racially biased incidences, such as but not limited to cultural appropriation, must be instituted to address when students and student-led organizations engage in racist practices.”

Response

Here are Willamette’s policies:
http://willamette.edu/offices/conduct/student-rights/non-discrimination.html

“Willamette University is a diverse community that provides equal opportunity in employment, activities, and its academic programs. The University shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, veteran status, actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or status with regard to pregnancy, disability or age. Willamette is firmly committed to adhere to the letter and spirit of all federal and state equal opportunity and civil rights laws. Consistent with its mission, the University seeks to assure that all community members are free to learn and work in an atmosphere free from harassment and discrimination. Harassing and discriminatory conduct is contrary to the positive educational environment Willamette seeks to foster and maintain. It threatens the well-being of its community members and will not be tolerated by the University. The University will take immediate action in all allegations, of harassment and discrimination to ensure the safety of the Willamette community and all individuals involved by ending the harassment or discrimination, preventing its recurrence and addressing its effects. Willamette will take appropriate action when this policy is violated.”

Also, see Willamette’s Student Code of Conduct:
http://willamette.edu/offices/conduct/student-rights/standards-conduct.html

“10) Harassment - Behavior that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational or employment opportunities, programs or activities; includes harassment on the basis of sex, race, color, cultural background, national origin, religion, political creed, marital status, veteran status, actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, disability, or age.

a) Bullying including cyberbullying, a form of harassment, is abusive treatment (may be verbal, physical, written, or otherwise), the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when patterned and involving an imbalance of power (real or perceived);...”

Get involved

Agenda

The STEAM Collective was invited to attend the E&E Advisory Board meeting to discuss concerns outlined in their demand statement.

Responding to which STEAM demand

“AND WHEREAS the “Renjen Center” or the Student Center for Equity & Empowerment (E&E) cannot be considered a gathering space for all students. Consciously referring to this space as a gathering space continues the erasure of marginalized students of color who created and advocated for this space for generations to come. It is not a space for everyone to gather…”

“The Renjen Center must be institutionally acknowledged as the Student Center for Equity and Empowerment (E&E) to honor that which the space substantively is. It cannot be considered a gathering space for all students as it was a space created for and by marginalized students.”

E&E Advisory Board Meeting

April 3, 2019, Student Center for Equity & Empowerment

Attendees

Dominic Thomas, Dean of Student Life, E&E Advisory Board Member
Gordy Toyama, OMA Director, E&E Advisory Board Member
Delia Olmos-García, Willamette Academy Program Director, E&E Advisory Board Member
Student, E&E Representative
Shirley Ley, Bishop Wellness Center Counselor
Rebecca Dobkins, Anthropology & American Ethnic Studies, E&E Advisory Board Member
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, E&E Advisory Board Representative
Student, NISU Representative
Student
Student
Student
Student, Student Representative for DACA Committee
Student, EDI Student Associate
Student, WU CAUSA Representative
Student, ACE Representative
Student, WU CAUSA Representative
Student, ACE Representative

Discussion Highlights

STEAM Collective members expressed concern that the initial terminology of “Gathering Space” suggested a purpose other than that of the E&E, which is to provide a space for marginalized students. Domanic Thomas asked about white students who may seek access to the E&E; ensuing discussion clarified that the E&E is a space where white students are not excluded but that white identity is not centered (as it is elsewhere on campus). White students are welcome to support the mission of the E&E as allies. The E&E supervisor’s job involves the interpretation and explanation of the space and its uses. Finally, the news that the donor will be the AGSM speaker for commencement 2019 may offer an opportunity for the donor to get to know more about the E&E and to meet students to whom the E&E is so important.

This discussion took place as part of the existing E&E Advisory Board meeting. Our conversation began with the process that led up to the naming of building that houses the E&E Center in association with a generous alumni gift. There were questions about the amount and timing of the donation and the process by which the E&E Advisory Board (which has student representatives) was consulted. Gordy discussed the fact that E&E students were consulted via a listserv and that some information on the donor was shared; no concerns were expressed.

Next Steps

​The E&E Advisory Board determined a few points to follow up on and tasks associated with upcoming duties. These tasks include:

  • ​Visiting with the VP for Advancement to:
  • develop a better understanding of how Advancement ​works and ways to ​support their ​work around ​the university's ​EDI goals;
  • better understand the process of naming buildings; and
  • ​discuss how they can participate in the stewardship of the donor(s) to the center​
  • Development of resources and presentations about the history, labor of students and mission of the center to be incorporated into tours, publication materials etc.; in a 2nd E&E Advisory Board meeting, on April 17th, the Advisory Board members agreed to hire/support a student in Fall ‘19 who wishes to create resources and presentations about the history of the E&E space, labor of students, and mission of the center to be incorporated into tours, publication materials, etc. This will either be a paid work-study position, a for-credit special class, or an internship, depending on the student.
  • The Advisory Board also will continue our engagement with Advancement as we work toward shared goals for alumni engagement and development.

These tasks will be addressed by the current Student Center for Equity and Empowerment Advisory Board, which serves to advocate and support the Student Center for Equity and Empowerment in order to help them achieve their mission, goals and objectives. The board also takes a role in assessing and evaluating the center’s efforts at maintaining its mission.

The chair of the board is the Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and the membership includes one student representative from the E&E, the E&E student supervisor, the Director of Multicultural Affairs, one faculty member, the University Chaplain, the Dean of Students, and a staff member from Willamette Academy. Any interested student is welcome to join this Board.

Get involved

Friday 22 March, Autzen Conference Room

Agenda

How can we ensure that the office of EDI is doing the job it was established to do?

Responding to which STEAM demand

AND WHEREAS the Office of the Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is not only misdirected in its efforts to foster equity but it is overburdened as a student support staff is not adequate to address the multitude of responsibilities that are given to VP Aguilar’s office. The lack of full-time, qualified staff to employ this office contributes to the dearth of accountability and detrimental impact on students.”

Attendees

Carol Long, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs
Jeremy Bogan, Vice President and Dean of Admission
Ruth Feingold, Dean of the CLA
Jade Aguilar, VPEDI (for first half)
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, EDI assistant
Student, EDI assistant

Discussion Highlights

We discussed the need, two years after the creation of the Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion role and office, of reviewing its activities in light of the taskforce recommendations and what we have seen borne out in practice.

One important area of inquiry is the larger network of individuals and offices doing EDI work across the schools. The taskforce recommended that multiple people report to the VP, but it should be acknowledged that direct reports entail a significant amount of work, as well as assistance. This should be revisited to determine what will serve the institution best. Physical space, co-location of related people and programs, and structures of support should also be considered. Students expressed a desire for more community-building work done by the office, and suggested that an assistant director position could be created to focus on such things, leaving the VP more time for higher level strategic work.

As this meeting occurred towards the end of the series, discussion turned to the financial implications of STEAM’s demands, taken collectively. Dean Feingold asked the students present to imagine themselves as budget managers, with the funds possible to hire one person, and one person only: an assistant director of EDI, a full-time director of Native American Programs, or a director of Community Service Learning. Which would they choose? Administrators agreed that they would keep student responses in mind, as well as seek further feedback, should the funds become available to do any more staff hiring in the future.

Above all, we discussed once more the difficulty of communicating among multiple stakeholders on and off campus. When STEAM members were asked how best to communicate with students, no clear answers emerged.

Next steps

  1. The University Provost will conduct a review of the office of EDI during the next academic year, soliciting input from key stakeholders.
  2. The office of the VP EDI will share with the campus community a report of work accomplished in its first two years and develop an assessment plan for the next stages.
  3. The VP EDI will work with the ASWU President to compile a comprehensive list of University and CLA committees where student representation is needed.

Get involved

March 14th, 2019, Smullin 159

Attendees

Sarah Kirk, Professor of Chemistry and Faculty Associate Dean and Facilitator
Emily Drew, former AES faculty
Roy Perez, AES faculty
Rebecca Dobkins, AES faculty
Ruth Feingold, CLA Dean
Meredy Goldberg Edelson, CLA faculty
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, STEAM Representative
Student
Colin Starr, CLA Faculty Council Chair
Scott Nadelson, AAUP President

Agenda

The STEAM Collective’s concerns were around the difficulty in accessing EDI relevant courses and completing a minor in AES, the support for hiring and retaining faculty of color, and the creation of spaces where students can discuss their concerns both inside and outside the classroom with people who have the power to make change.

Responds to which STEAM demand

“AND WHEREAS the few Faculty of Color that are here have been consistently overburdened, underpaid, and excluded from tenure track positions, resulting in a lack of any racial formation in all departments acutely exhibited in STEM, Social Sciences, and Humanities. The American Ethnic Studies Department has been immensely downsized and depleted since the department was created; ...

“Willamette University must offer support to faculty and staff of color by providing the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion with qualified support staff, offering tenure to and putting forth the effort to bring more faculty of color and qualified faculty, and reinstating the American Ethnic Studies major.”

Discussion Highlights

In 2015, the President tasked each college in the university with identifying our continued challenges in the areas of equity, diversity, and inclusion and creating a plan for moving forward. This document was called the Diversity Blueprint. VP Aguilar and Associate Dean Kirk recently evaluated the progress on the Blueprint and wrote up a report summarizing work since 2015. This draft document was shared with those that attended.

The group discussed challenges with increasing cultural and ethnic awareness on campus including the limited number of courses in this area. There was also concerns around how we communicate work that is being done to students.

Next steps

  1. The Office of EDI will work with deans and administrative offices to communicate campus-wide efforts and developments in equity, diversity and inclusion to the campus community.
  2. The dean of the CLA will work with faculty governance committees to continue to pursue strategies for hiring and retaining faculty of color.
  3. The dean of the CLA will work with the chair of AES to clarify when AES classes will be offered.
  4. ASWU, the VP for EDI, VP for Student Affairs, and the Dean of Students will continue to collaborate to offer more informal opportunities for students to engage with administrators.

Additional information:

STEAM concern (see Demand, above)

The administration cut the AES major.

Response

Faculty, not administration, determine majors and minors and other aspects of curriculum. Should the CLA faculty wish to revive the AES major, that is within their purview; however, the faculty in AES themselves have stated their belief that it is better for students to complete a traditional disciplinary major and an AES minor. The CLA Dean’s office remains firmly in support of American Ethnic Studies, along with other interdisciplinary programs, and works with program chairs to secure the staffing they need to offer courses.

STEAM concern (see Demand, above)

Faculty of color are paid less and denied tenure on the basis of race.

Response

All faculty in the CLA are paid on a standardized step system, with salaries based on their time in rank. This system both represents and enacts our commitment to equity, and ensures that there are no salary discrepancies due to race, gender, or academic discipline.

Willamette is committed to fostering a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Of the 26 most recent tenure-track faculty hires at the College of Liberal Arts, half identify as underrepresented people of color. Staff and administrators in academic and student support are increasingly diverse, including people of color and others able to connect with students from marginalized identities.

Over the past four years, CLA faculty and administration, charged by President Thorsett to improve our practices around diversity, have enacted a number of measures to ensure that faculty who engage in the often invisible role of mentoring and supporting students from under-represented backgrounds — often faculty who are themselves from such backgrounds — are recognized and credited for their efforts. Faculty are invited to report annually on the informal mentoring activities that they engage in; all faculty are asked to describe the work they do towards building a more diverse and equitable Willamette; and faculty have been given course release time for high-demand service work related to equity and inclusion (such as advocacy for undocumented students and peer education in EDI methodologies). A minimum of three professional development workshops in the area of EDI are provided to faculty each year.

Get involved

Thursday, March 14, Autzen Conference Room

Attendees

Lisa Holliday, Associate Dean of Students & Facilitator
Seth Cotlar, Professor of History
Sarah Shinn, Associate Director of TIUA Student Life
Colleen Kawahara, Director of the President’s Office
Patrick Daugherty, Head Golf Coach
Student, former CSL Coordinator
Wendy Peterson Boring, Associate Professor of History
Francesca Scotese, Career Services Internship Coordinator
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, STEAM Representative

Agenda

The STEAM Collective’s concern was the absence of a full-time employee overseeing the Community Service Learning (CSL) department. Representatives were invited to the CSL working group’s final meeting to review their draft report and recommendations prior to submission to VP Whipple and Provost Long.

Responds to which STEAM demand

“AND WHEREAS Administrators decided not to hire a full-time director of Community Service Learning who could be solely dedicated to the department whom they promised to replace for the 2018/19 school year. The administration failed to provide sufficient transparency and resources to its student-led organizations...”
“The University must fulfill its promise to hire a full-time CSL director, whose sole position would be to support student-led and organized community service within the department.”

Discussion Highlights

This discussion took place as part of the existing Community Service Learning working group meeting. The participants reviewed the draft report and made recommendations. The report is being finalized and the recommendations will be released to the campus committee later this semester.  In addition to the working group’s recommendations, the participants discussed:

  • Potential barriers to faculty not incorporating service learning into their courses or not involving the office in their planning
  • An office name change to more effectively communicate the mission of the office. Ideas included: community engagement, experiential learning and high impact pedagogy.
  • The person in the CSL Director role maintains the campus culture of service, living the motto, etc. Without a person in this role, we will lose this culture.
  • Working group members remain concerned about risk management and legal issues without a full-time employee overseeing CSL.

Having fulfilled its charge, this was the working group’s final meeting.

Next steps

  1. CSL Task Force will submit the report with recommendations to Vice President Ed Whipple by April 12. VP Whipple will review the report and recommendations with Provost Carol Long. They will report back to the Community Service Learning working group by the end of this semester.
  2. An application has been submitted for CSL staffing for the 2019-2020 academic year in the form of an Americorp VISTA member.

Additional Information

The Student Budget Advisory Committee (SBAC) was formed in 2016 to provide input to administration during the budget development process around priorities and fee recommendations (per our fee policy). The committee is student driven and students are appointed by ASWU. An SBAC representative was not appointed in the 2018/19 academic year.

Get involved

Note: This forum was not open to the public.

Responds to which STEAM demand

“AND WHEREAS Undocumented students and DACA recipients have not received nor felt the full support of the institution as a result of the encumberment of a singular faculty member;”

Response

Willamette admits students and awards merit aid without considering citizenship or immigration status, but we are aware that admission alone does not guarantee access. Beginning in Fall 2013, the CLA has provided undocumented students with a $7500 Scholar Achievement Loan, which converts to a grant for those who graduate within four years. Beginning in 2014, we also have offered additional need-based grants to undocumented students, to compensate for the federal aid they are ineligible for.

After the 2016 election, the university held multiple fora for both undocumented students and their families, as well as ones for allies, to provide information about DACA. At that time, the Dean of the CLA, after consulting with students, appointed a tenure-track faculty member as the undocumented student advocate. For the 2018–19 academic year, while that faculty member has been on leave, he has been replaced in his role by a contingent faculty member whom the regular DACA advocate identified as the best choice. Undocumented students themselves indicated their preference for a single point person. If needs change, we welcome conversations with affected students about how their needs can be better met.

In 2017, the DACA/Undocumented committee was created, charged with identifying obstacles and opportunities for students who hold DACA/undocumented status. This committee works to secure and provide resources and a voice for these students as they complete their collegiate journey. This includes advocacy, legal advice, financial assistance and confidential support. The committee comprises Willamette administrators, faculty and students and reports to Vice President Jade Aguilar. Interested students are welcome to join this committee.

Get involved

March 12th, 2019, Parents Conference Room

Attendees

Jade Aguilar, Facilitator, Title IX Coordinator, VP EDI
Professor Hobgood, CLA faculty rep to Committee
Joe Abraham, Director, Sustainability Institute (guest)
Gordon Toyama, Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs
Student, ADAA student rep
Student, AGSM student rep to the committee
Student, ASWU student rep to the committee
Susan Minder, Director of Accessible Education
Don Thomson, Director of Bishop Wellness Center
Student, Active Minds Student Representative
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, STEAM Representative

Agenda

The STEAM collective concern was that Willamette has inadequate resources committed to accessibility services that prevent students with disabilities to have full access to their education.

Responds to which STEAM demand

“WHEREAS Students with disabilities are not met with the full access and support of the institution as promised and stated on the WU website: “Willamette University is committed to the full access and inclusion of all students with disabilities in its programs.”

Discussion Highlights

This discussion took place at a meeting of the university’s existing Accessible Education Committee. It focused on several specific needs for students. First, the concern about lack of accessibility at the Bistro and also Collins. Second, the lack of access to Zena and other outdoor programs for students with disabilities. Finally, a concern that disability services--from AES to Bishop--are centered around whiteness.

Next steps for the Accessible Education Committee:

  1. Ensure that the remodel of the first floor of the UC takes into account the needs of students with disabilities. Further, as spaces on campus get remodeled, access will always be considered, and we will aim to include people with disabilities in all conversations about building and remodel on campus.
  2. Create opportunities for all students to access Zena in diverse ways to allow for mental health space away from campus in a natural setting. Joe Abraham discussed a program he is working on to help facilitate this access. He also mentioned initiating a program to ensure better access to campus via local/Salem buses.
  3. Ensure that Outdoor Programs continues their efforts to create accessible programming that focuses on students with disabilities, especially as it intersects with race and communities of color.
  4. Establish better word of mouth and visibility around disability and mental health resources on campus that are specifically aimed at students of color: e.g., counselors at Bishop who specialize in clients who are non-white and have complex intersectional identities. Students are working with Bishop staff on an accessibility survey to determine why some students do not feel welcome or able to take advantage of that resource.

These items will be addressed by the University-wide Accessible Education Committee which reviews University accessibility from a programmatic and systemic perspective. The committee works with Accessible Education Services, Bishop Wellness Center, and student groups to review and develop policies, which promote independence and autonomy among students with disabilities, encouraging accessibility by design rather than by exception. The committee is comprises WU administrators, faculty, and students (including ASWU appointed reps) and reports to the VP for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Interested students are welcome to join this committee.

In addition, two student groups focused on disability awareness and rights also address these issues. First, Advocates for Dis/Ability Awareness and Accessibility (ADAA) provides a safe community and uplifting environment for current students with disabilities, as well as their allies. And Active Minds, a chapter of a national organization, is dedicated to advocating for destigmatizing and raising awareness of mental health. Active Minds is advised by Bishop Wellness Center.

Finally, several workshops have been offered to faculty and staff on developing better accessibility practices in their work. In March 2018, Paul Grossman, Professor of Disability Law at Hastings College of Law, provided a 1-day series of workshops that included useful information for HR, Legal Counsel, Housing, and faculty on access and inclusivity. In May 2019, Sue Minder, Director of Accessible Education, will be hosting a workshop, Unpacking Everyday Ableism, for faculty teaching College Colloquium in the fall.

Additional information

Regarding concerns about access to Bishop Wellness Center for students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and students from other diverse and marginalized backgrounds and communities:

Bishop is dedicated to providing access to culturally informed and affirming care for all students, and understands that there are additional barriers and historically poorer outcomes nationally for students from marginalized backgrounds and identities. Bishop is committed to continuous learning and growing to increase accessibility for underserved students, and has several structures in place to this end.

Bishop has an active Bishop Advisory Committee that meets several times over the course of the academic year. Its charge is to “advise the Director of Bishop Wellness Center, the Student Affairs Executive Committee, the Vice President for Student Affairs, and the Dean of Students regarding matters pertaining to student health and mental health, including recommendations regarding wellness-related programs and services”. The committee includes faculty, staff, and ASWU-appointed student representatives from the CLA, as well as AGSM and Law. Faculty and staff from Title IX Committee, DACA Support Committee, and Vice President for EDI all serve on the Bishop Advisory Committee.

Bishop is also committed to active and ongoing data collection to assure its services are inclusive. This takes place through client feedback surveys and collection of intersectional demographic data. The Director also participates on and solicits feedback from several multi-disciplinary committees across campus with student representation.

Data for Counseling Services mirrors Willamette’s student body, with slightly higher utilization by students of color than white students. Bishop also provides proportionally more counseling appointments to women, non-binary, and LGBTQ+ students when compared to the overall Willamette student body. Every applicable response from Bishop’s Client Satisfaction Survey this year agreed or strongly agreed that counselors were respectful and affirming of intersecting identities.

To ensure that surveys and anecdotal feedback paint a full picture, Bishop is also working with students to reach out to students who haven’t accessed Bishop to better understand any barriers that might prevent them from using the wellness center. This year’s utilization and client satisfaction data, as well as the student partner projects were also shared broadly with the Bishop Advisory Committee at its most recent meeting in April, 2019.

Lastly, in an effort to better serve students with marginalized identities and diversify its services, Bishop also recently redesigned its most recent open “Counselor” position as “Counselor: Diversity and Inclusion Liaison.” The updated position requires specialty in counseling underserved populations and includes intentional and targeted outreach responsibilities. The overarching goal of the reimagined counselor position is to reduce any barriers and create better access for students of color and other marginalized identities.

Get involved

March 13th, 2019- Smullin 159

Attendees

Sarah Kirk, Professor of Chemistry and Faculty Associate Dean and Facilitator
Student, STEAM Representative
Student, ASWU Representative
Student, STEAM Representative
Carol Long, Provost and Senior Vice President
Ruth Feingold, CLA Dean
Colleen Kawahara, Chief of Staff, Administrative Secretary to the Board of Trustees
Meredy Goldberg Edelson, CLA faculty
Student, Student Bar Association Executive Committee representative
Student, AGSM student representative
Nathan Sivers Boyce, CLA Budget Advisory Council Chair
Scott Nadelson, AAUP President

Agenda

The STEAM Collective’s concerns were around whether the Joint Agreement was completed and understanding what accountability was in place for continuing the three guiding principles: (a) Consultative and transparent decision-making; (b) Responsibility and accountability, and (c) Equity would continue.

Responds to which STEAM demand

“AND WHEREAS Willamette Administration, faculty, and staff have failed to fulfill the terms of the Joint Agreement…”

“A review of the Joint Agreement must take place to address where the university has faltered in the agreement.”

Discussion Highlights

Students expressed concerns that they were only recently made aware of the Joint Agreement on Shared Governance, Consultative Decision-Making and Communication, a document developed and approved by a working group of trustees and CLA faculty and students in May 2016 that outlined principles of collaboration and consultative decision-making and included 11 “action items” that were to be completed by Fall 2018. Faculty and administrators were surprised by this as students participated in writing the joint agreement.  We need a better transition plan among student leaders and better communication with students generally.

University Council is the body that was responsible for reviewing the Joint Agreement and will be the body responsible for making suggestions moving forward. This body has representation from all three schools including student representatives.

The Joint Agreement evaluation written by UC was provided to the group. Students asked what the process would be moving forward to make sure we were adhering to the three guiding principles, in particular transparency. There was broad agreement that we wanted to continue to uphold the three principles and there was a desire for a clear process and metrics.

Next steps

  1. University Council approved an ongoing university-wide statement of principles.
  2. A better system of communication is still necessary both for strategic planning and for gathering input through the student leadership at each of the schools
  3. The CLA Dean’s office will partner with ASWU to deliver training annually for both student representatives and university committee chairs so that students can be more engaged and their voices more effectively incorporated at the University committee level
  4. ASWU will commit to appointing student representatives to university committees, and these representatives will commit to attending meetings and reporting back to their constituents.

Get involved

A brief history of collaborative university-student initiatives at Willamette

In accordance with our motto, “Not unto ourselves alone are we born,” Willamette students have served as agents for positive change, bringing forward and working collaboratively with the university on ideas and initiatives that, as adopted, have significantly contributed to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion.

Two recent examples: A student proposal advanced in 2016 ultimately resulted in the establishment of a new leadership-level position: Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. And in response to advocacy by students and others, the university recommitted to Willamette Academy, hiring a new Executive Director in August 2016.

A few examples of past student initiatives that, working together with the university, have directly contributed to a more inclusive and equitable Willamette:

2006

  • In response to student advocacy, President Pelton established the Council on Diversity and Social Justice (CDSJ) with faculty, students, and staff.

2009

  • Advent of the Box Project (later known as “Bias Incident Assessment System”), a student-led initiative whose purpose was to establish a reporting method to report bias incidents. The idea began as boxes around campus where students could write down incidents of bias.

2010

  • Bias Incident Online Reporting System (a revised Box Project proposal brought forward by students) is established and made available campus-wide.

2011

  • MOSAICS established, a student-run initiative created to offer students of color more academic support, mentorship opportunities.
  • WU CAUSA founded by students.
  • Student Center for Equity and Empowerment (E&E), proposed by students, is established in the former Writing Center on the first floor of Matthews Hall.

2012

  • Multicultural Resource Center opened “...aimed at creating dialogue and engagement on such topics as gender, ability, sexual identity and religion” —  championed by students.
  • Prisoners Poetry program is created by a student in cooperation with Oregon Dept. of Corrections.
  • Queer Student Union (QSU) established.

2017

  • E&E Center relocated to Lee-York as the result of a collaborative effort between ASWU and Student Affairs.

2018

  • The Offices of Student Affairs and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion establish Gender Resource and Advocacy Center (GRAC).
Willamette University

Office Of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Address
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

Back to Top