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Building a Diverse, Inclusive Community

Dear Campus Community,


As we begin our academic year, I want to update you on our efforts to build a community that is more inclusive for all of our students, faculty, and staff. I believe this is the most critical work we are doing to achieve our mission of excellence.
 
The pain and damage resulting from last year’s anonymous anti-black, racist, trans-antagonistic email made it very clear that we have a lot of work to do to be the community that we aspire to be.

An important step to becoming an anti-racist campus is acknowledging that racism exists right here. We can’t address racism if we don’t talk about it. We can’t be an equitable and inclusive community if we aren’t honest that we are not there yet, and that making progress is an active and ongoing process of engagement.
 
Over the summer, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, and bias interrogation work has been in the forefront, and much more is planned for the academic year.
 
Summer work included:
 
Education: The CC Board of Trustees, Cabinet, faculty, and staff participated in diversity and inclusion workshops. The board, Student Life and Admission divisions, and invited members of the Colorado Springs Police Department worked with a national expert in diversity and inclusion, and Dr. Paul Buckley, assistant vice president and director of the Butler Center, led multiple workshops for employees all summer. Nearly 200 employees — 150 staff and 44 faculty — attended the new workshops titled “Toward a Daily Anti-Racist Agenda.” Now, 53 percent of faculty and 34 percent of staff have completed the Excel at CC “Good to Great: The Journey to Inclusion” program. Workshop opportunities will continue during the academic year; registration information is forthcoming.
 
New Student Orientation: The Butler Center and Accessibility Resources provided incoming students with a session, “Sense of Community:  Developing Solidarity,” to teach skill building and dialogue practice and share a common vocabulary used in social justice work. The session gave new students the history and context of last spring’s racist email, and informed students of the anti-racist work CC is pursuing. Students were encouraged to engage in teaching and learning opportunities around these issues and pursue social opportunities for intercultural exchange, identity development, and ideology interrogation, and were asked to be responsive when issues arise and seek support when needed.
 
History: The Butler Center, Communications, and two interns worked this summer to envision and begin a project to give voice and visibility to members of CC’s community of color, telling their stories — the pain and difficulty as well as the strides and achievements. We must acknowledge, listen to, and learn from both positive and negative experiences. These stories will appear on our website and in other communications soon.
 
Anti-discrimination process: In response to student concerns, a new anti-discrimination process has been adopted. The goal is to provide a consistent process for everyone, and to be as transparent as possible. Our anti-discrimination policy applies to all constituents at the college: faculty, staff, students, and visitors. In the past, student reports regarding any non-gender or sex-based discrimination were made to Student Life, the Butler Center, and other offices, and handled in various ways. Now those seeking informal resolutions and those filing formal complaints alleging discrimination of any form can access the same process.
 
Dr. Paul Buckley will join the Anti-Discrimination Team (formerly the Title IX Team) to oversee student cases that don’t involve Title IX. That team is comprised of Professor Gail Murphy-Geiss, Title IX coordinator; Rochelle Mason and Barbara Wilson, deputy Title IX coordinators; the sexual assault response coordinator; and Dr. Buckley. The team meets blockly to monitor the policy, process, use, access, problems, etc. and to manage cases together. The same trained investigators will be used for all cases across the college.
 
Email investigation: We are working with the Denver law firm Davis Graham & Stubbs to investigate the anonymous email that was sent to some members of the campus community in the spring. By issuing a civil warrant to HushMail, we have learned that the email was sent from a public computer in Denver; the firm is working with CSPD to determine if we can identify who was using the computer at the time the email was sent.
 
We have many more efforts coming this academic year, including:
 
External review: We will conduct an examination of racism at CC to audit our policies, practices, structures, and communications, as well as our academic and co-curricular programs. I have assembled a steering committee of students, faculty, staff, and alumni to guide this yearlong effort. This group is considering proposals from national firms and planning the work to begin this fall. Thanks to these committed members of our community. They are:
 
Faculty
Claire Garcia, professor of English
Neena Grover, professor of biochemistry, Faculty Executive Committee chair
Christina Leza, associate professor of anthropology
Shawn Womack, associate professor and chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance
Mario Montano, associate professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology
 
Administration and Staff
Alan Townsend, provost
Paul Buckley, assistant vice president, director of the Butler Center
Mike Edmonds, vice president for student life, dean of students
Felix Sanchez ’93, assistant vice president for communications
Maggie Santos ’86, director of campus safety and emergency management
 
Students
Precious Cooper ’20
Alexandra Rivas ’19
Cameron Mongoven ’21
 
Alumni
Nancy Hernandez ’96, equity specialist coordinator, Western Educational Equity Assistance Center, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Sonlatsa Sunshine Jim-Martin ’94, Native American alumna and activist
Tafari Lumumba ’05, trustee, associate attorney, Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher LLP
 
Faculty workshops: The Office of the Dean of the Faculty will provide resources to academic departments and programs to support discipline-specific inclusion workshops for faculty.
 
Executive-in-residence: Outdoor education and gender identity specialist Britt McClintock will serve as an executive-in-residence in the Office of Outdoor Education through block break 2. McClintock, a queer woman of color and documentarian who co-created the film “Genderations,” will work with Outdoor Education, the Butler Center, and student groups on bringing inclusion into outdoor education. McClintock will advise on CC’s outdoor-education programming and curriculum, and offer workshops for campus leaders working in these areas. She worked with Priddy Trip leaders in preparation for New Student Orientation trips, and will lead block-break trips after Blocks 1 and 2.
 
We have much more planned for the year ahead. I will keep you updated, and invite your participation in the work of the steering committee and our examination of racism at CC. This work is crucial to our mission, and to building the best CC. I ask that each of you invest the time to engage meaningfully in these efforts.
 
Sincerely,

Jill