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Letter from Barb Jones to UGBC

Toward a More Inclusive Community | January 27, 2016

We are appreciative of the concerns raised by UGBC and the ongoing dialogue surrounding issues of inclusion.  Racism is a matter of concern for all of society, and maintaining an inclusive community where all students can thrive is a steadfast commitment of Boston College.  Our meeting Friday was helpful in better understanding your concerns and in affording us an opportunity to communicate the significant efforts of the University, both ongoing and new, to address issues of race, diversity, and inclusion.

Boston College remains committed to increasing and retaining diverse students, faculty and staff.  During the past two decades, BC’s enrollment of AHANA students has doubled from 15%-30%.  During this same time period, the AHANA percentage of tenured faculty has risen to 20%.  Furthermore, 23% of director-level positions in the Division of Student Affairs are AHANA.  The University is attentive to hiring for diversity, and continues diligent and focused recruiting efforts in what is a very competitive environment.  Vice presidents and deans are accountable for these efforts within the University.

In addition to recruitment and retention efforts, we recognize that much of your document pertains to education, programming, climate and support efforts.  As we discussed, new core curriculum pilot courses---Complex Problems and Enduring Questions---allow for the opportunity to explore questions on race and justice. The new Core Renewal Committee is also exploring our current cultural diversity requirement.  In our meeting we also talked about revamping the Mosaic program based on assessment and feedback obtained from this pilot-year launch of the program, expanding training for students and staff involved in educational efforts on diversity and inclusion, and introducing through Human Resources a new online module on harassment for faculty and staff.  A review of a bias response protocol for students is ongoing.  These efforts, many of which have been underway for some time, provide opportunities to address issues raised in your document.  The University will not stand still on these important issues and is committed to making BC the most welcoming and inclusive community possible.

The University will not be adding a vice president for institutional diversity and will instead focus on utilizing existing programs and committees.  Striving to become a more welcoming and inclusive community is, and should be, a collective effort with responsibility shared by all members of the community. The University, through the leadership of the Office of Institutional Diversity (OID), has been assessing the charter and role of the Diversity Steering Committee (DSC) and has made the recommendation to add two students, appointed by UGBC, to the committee beginning in the fall of 2016.  This is an important step in better engaging students in University diversity and inclusion efforts.  Further, the results of the faculty and staff experience survey initiated by Human Resources during the fall semester, and the upcoming summit on diversity, will provide more information for the DSC to consider.

In addition to drawing upon the resources of Student Affairs, you are also encouraged to engage with individual vice presidents on programs within their areas.  Our discussions about Student Affairs initiatives have been helpful in better understanding your concerns.  Discussions with the other vice presidents will be beneficial in clarifying additional concerns where you may not have adequate information or understanding. 

We look forward to continuing the thoughtful and challenging dialogue around creating a more inclusive community.