By Terrilyn Ho | News Editor
On Thursday, Feb. 16, the Academic Senate voted and approved a proposed resolution that called for mandatory diversity training for all faculty members, both tenured and adjunct. According to Ines Sosa, “Faculty Research Grants, Faculty Awards, Sabbatical Leave, and Faculty Development Fund requests will all be contingent on the completion of such training once every three years.”
Last November a statement was written by the End the Silence Committee, which was developed in response to the solutions given by Saint Mary’s administration to the demands brought up in Spring of 2016, when End the Silence first started.
End the Silence is a discussion that resulted from a lack of response from the administration towards several controversial events. One of the most noteworthy instances being the egging of the Intercultural Center during the annual Black Student Union sleepover.
A total of 10 demands were made and the call for diversity training is in direct response to Demand 7, which explains that the school’s core principles are built on “the existence and success of a diverse community.” According to the Committee the importance of this, however, is the responsibility of the faculty and staff. Whether that be in the classroom or around campus, they state that “it is vital to hold them accountable to attending diversity trainings and workshops, as there is no other way to ensure they are all trained.”
Diversity training was also touched upon in Demand 6, which called for this sort of training for adjunct professors, in addition to tenured professors, who were previously not required to attend. According to the Committee, “Although the response presents statistics on increased underrepresented faculty of color, such increased representation needs to extend into other departments such as Science and Business.”
The need for this was addressed in this demand, where the Committee emphasized that faculty are “not always fully equipped with the tools and skills to facilitate class discussion and classroom dynamics, which put student’s safety and learning at risk.”
They also contended that “student and mid-term evaluations need to be held with more weight in order to maintain that accountability. This can mean that if a group of students do not feel that a professor facilitates discussions adequately, they would have to attend a workshop to brush up on facilitation skills, or something of that sort.”
Prior to this approved resolution, the Committee felt that the near impossibility of required tenured professors to complete diversity training indicated a clear need to “modify the faculty handbook to reflect the needs of students. It is incredulous that the inability to enforce a training that aligns with the core principles is hindered by a handbook that is seen as a stopping point.”
While it has certainly been difficult to keep track of the progress that has been made by the End the Silence Committee, this proposition has proven that change is occurring and that it can continue for the years to come.