An Update on the Ten Demands

February 01, 2016

Helen Drinan

A message from President Helen Drinan

I am pleased to provide you with an update on the Community Meeting we held on Wednesday, January 27, the first of five such meetings scheduled for this semester.

The meeting was emceed by Simmons student Alex Mireles, President of Organización Latino América (OLA). She offered kind words of praise for the responsiveness of the Administration during these conversations, and announced that the organization of students collaborating on the Ten Demands has been named the Students of Color Inclusion Council (SOCIC). As previously planned, and at the request of the SOCIC, I then reviewed the initiatives developed by the Administration, including where possible general timeframes for the work on each of the respective topics.

In virtually every case, the initiatives will require both benchmarking best practices and significant student input. Lisa Smith McQueenie, Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, announced the following process for students who wish to get involved:

  • The SOCIC has agreed to use their network to get information out to their peers about opportunities to participate.
  • There is an existing list of more than 100 students who will be contacted to solicit their participation.
  • An invitation will go out to both graduate and undergraduate students next week via email.

Initiatives the College is Committed to Addressing:

  • Increase outreach to students, educating them about existing resources for mental and physical health; establish and publicize two-way lines of communication to better understand and respond to student concerns and priorities; and explore expanding hours of Simmons health and counseling services, including targeted outreach opportunities.
  • Support students of color when traumatic racial events occur either on campus or in the world beyond our doors by creating incident-specific programming in addition to ongoing efforts; such efforts will include community meetings with open and/or topical agendas and regular drop-in hours in critical offices.
  • Establish supplemental on-boarding activities tied to orientation for students of color.
  • Initiate an advising/mentoring program to better connect students with faculty, staff, and alumnae.
  • Deliver ongoing, rigorous diversity training for students, faculty, and staff.
  • Redesign the Simmons Course (all three sections) to incorporate the complex racial history of Boston.
  • Under the direction of each dean working with school curriculum committees, audit the curriculum to determine whether courses appropriately incorporate the contributions of people of color and women, and redesign those that do not, as appropriate.
  • Hold open feedback sessions with students and faculty to discuss where the curriculum needs revision or enhancement.
  • Review student course evaluations to ensure diversity-related questions are included.
  • Educate students about their civil rights as citizens, students, and community members at Simmons College. Adjust policies to ensure students have clear processes for addressing a complaint when they believe their rights have been violated.
  • Strengthen the relationship between our professional student recruitment efforts and our multicultural student organizations.
  • Identify a space for a Multicultural Student Office on the Academic Campus.
  • Begin the planning process to establish a Multicultural Student Center.
  • Affirmatively hire faculty and staff through processes consistent with representing the demographics of our labor markets; educate the community about the current demographics that shape labor availability for Simmons.
  • Support faculty of color, especially those in the junior ranks, with a mentoring program.
  • Assist students of color in managing needs for financial aid at Simmons and beyond; provide workshops on finding and applying for scholarships outside Simmons, completing FAFSA forms, planning for post-graduate life, and other processes particularly challenging for first generation students.
  • Ensure diversity and inclusion commitments are incorporated in the strategic planning efforts, which are expected to be completed in the spring.

The meeting included a spirited Q&A session, which helped clarify important issues related to several of the topics we covered.

Professor Afaa Weaver announced that faculty of color have joined together to determine how they might contribute to the many serious problems facing the world that impact all of these issues and our attempts at resolution.

The meeting, scheduled for one hour, continued beyond the 5:30 p.m. time line and ultimately was concluded by OLA President Alex Mireles at approximately 5:45 p.m. Alex invited anyone interested in staying on for further discussion to do so.

Community building is the responsibility of each one of us at Simmons. I urge you to demonstrate your commitment to that work by getting involved and attending these upcoming meetings. You can also follow the Simmons Diversity and Inclusion Twitter account for up-to-the-minute information. 

Sincerely,

Helen Drinan formal signature