Dickinson is taking steps to increase its commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout all areas of the institution. Several of these initiatives have been underway for some time, but others grew out of the racial tensions brought to the surface around the country in recent months. During the summer, members of the college administration met virtually with concerned students, including members of the Black Student Union, to address issues that had been raised.
- The Division of Student Life developed a community forum with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and reorganized the DPS advisory board to consist of a diverse group of students who will review and discuss incidents that occur. In addition, DPS will move to a hybrid safety model by either adding unarmed security personnel or creating a student safety patrol. These units could respond to calls such as lockouts, lost keys and walking/ bicycle escorts where an armed officer is not necessary.
- In June, Dickinson welcomed Amer Ahmed, a nationally recognized expert in organizational strategy who has helped numerous institutions address inclusion, equity and intercultural development, as interim executive director of equity & inclusivity and visiting lecturer in intercultural studies. Ahmed is overseeing the Office of Equity & Inclusivity, which is working even more proactively with students, faculty and staff to build a more inclusive community. In addition, Dickinson welcomed Todd Nordgren as the new director of the Office of LGBTQ Services.
- The All-College Committee on Equity, Inclusivity & Belonging (EIB) merged the President’s Commission on Inclusivity, the Working Group on Sexual Harassment & Misconduct and the Bias Education & Response Team into a single, permanent all-college committee. The committee is charged with improving policies related to harassment and discrimination, monitoring progress on the Inclusivity Strategic Plan and ensuring the training and education of all members of the community on equity, inclusivity and belonging.
- Dickinson is working closely with local organizations, including community partners through the Community Action Network, made up of individuals from local nonprofits; health care, state, county and local government officials; faith-based organizations; and law enforcement, to develop strategies to combat racism and support social justice in the greater Carlisle community.
- In May, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the recommendation from an all-campus task force to rename Cooper Hall to Spradley-Young Hall, honoring Henry Spradley and Robert Young, two formerly enslaved men and longtime college employees who helped integrate the Dickinson campus in the 19th century. The board also unanimously approved the renaming of East College Gate as the Pinkney Family Gate, honoring Carrie and Noah Pinkney, popular African American food sellers on campus for decades in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. When we return to campus, a ceremony will be held to mark this change.
In addition to these efforts, Marcus Witherspoon ’20 and Naji Thompson ’19 launched the Athletes of Color Coalition, which will work in conjunction with the athletics department and student life office to better Black and Brown student-athlete experiences as a whole, serve as an immediate support system for all athletes of color and oversee a newly created voluntary mentorship program for incoming athletes of color.
Conversations regarding changes to campus structures and practices are ongoing. Any questions or suggestions can be directed to Vice President for Student Life George Stroud (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Read more from the fall 2020 issue of Dickinson Magazine.
TAKE THE NEXT STEPS
Published November 6, 2020