University News

Brown to invite community feedback on diversity plan

Paxson moves up release of plan to Friday in light of recent events, concerns about campus climate

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The University will release a working document of a diversity and inclusion action plan Friday, President Christina Paxson P’19 wrote in a community-wide email Monday. Administrators will invite community feedback through an online form that will be available for two weeks before releasing the plan by the end of the semester, she wrote.

“Rather than release this plan as a final document at the end of November as originally planned, we will share the plan this Friday, Nov. 20 as a working document,” Paxson wrote.

The online form will be open until Dec. 4, and the administration hopes to “seek the feedback of our entire campus community of students, faculty and staff,” she wrote, noting that the administration will “perform a thorough review of the feedback” to ensure broad community involvement.

This move is “informed by our commitment as a community to effect real change,” she added.

The University decided to release a working draft of the plan and seek community input due to events both on and off campus over the past few months, wrote Cass Cliatt, vice president for communications, in an email to The Herald. “We didn’t want to wait longer to share the steps that we’re proposing to confront the issues that are causing anger, pain and frustration for members of our community,” she wrote.

Recent University initiatives addressing issues that affect the entire campus “have benefited from the ideas, experiences and thoughtful consideration of the diverse perspectives that make up our community,” Cliatt wrote. Efforts by University bodies such as the Sexual Assault Task Force and the Deficit Reduction Working Group have showcased how the contributions of community members help shape administrative action, she wrote.

The feedback period over Thanksgiving break marks an opportunity for the Brown community to “reflect on the plan without the immediate pressures of classes, teaching and work supporting campus operations,” Cliatt wrote, adding that the administration hopes every community member thinks of the plan for diversity and inclusion as “our plan.”

Releasing a working draft of the plan is helpful because it allows students to check that the administration is addressing issues pertaining to people of color in “a tangible way,” said Jieyi Cai ’17. Paxson still needs to prove to students that she is listening to their demands, which did not come across in her handling of an open forum Saturday, Cai said.

Cai said she will be looking to see that the University makes an effort to hire more faculty of color and addresses the issue of “faculty autonomy,” adding that the University must take concrete action to ensure that faculty members are never allowed to be racist or disrespectful to students of color.

Alexis Rodriguez-Camacho ’18 wrote in an email to The Herald that he believes Paxson genuinely wants to support students of color, though he expressed frustration that she did not make these efforts earlier.

“She talks a big game, but why has it taken so long for this diversity plan to come out?” he wrote, adding that he would not be surprised if the plan’s final release date were pushed “further and further until the seniors who have pushed for all this graduate.”