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Chaparral 2022-2023: 31.4 Senate Update

Senate Update

by Roger Dickes
Academic Senate President


I am going to begin by un-cancelling the word “robust,” and I encourage everyone to use the word freely and with passion. Stuck in my mind since childhood is some old Steve Martin comedy record (“Comedy is Not Pretty,” I think) where he tried to strike a letter or word from use and it just stayed with me somehow, because of the bizarre ambition and total folly of this piece of his routine. I am not sure I find it funny anymore, but I couldn’t help myself; had to try to strike something from the English language. Shrug emoji… Regression? Sign of the times? Sorry if anyone hesitated to use the word “robust” and I guess I am still learning a lesson or two, that the things I say may be influential or constricting in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I am learning that I am probably a 53-year-old man being piloted by a 53-year-old man’s soul, not a 12-year-old’s soul.


Before I deliver my Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) update, I would like to relate my belief that the change being sought at this college has to happen person-to-person and within each of us, and as much through informal social interaction as structured encounters. I do not believe I am alone in thinking a person cannot be forced to become authentically open to difference – or that a thing such as kindness cannot, by definition, be institutionalized.

It has been strange but not surprising to see articles pop up recently about backlash to DEIA initiatives by left-leaning writers Nicholas Kristof and Jesse Singal in the New York Times. These articles are worth reading, in that they warn us essentially not to make enemies of ourselves. At GCC, I hope we can let our values show as naturally as possible, without a sense that we are iterating or conforming to a totalizing ethos and that, if we are left of center, we take care not to be right wing about it.

OK, so here is what’s happening in DEIA lately…

Sangita Dube, our DEIA chair in her first year of tenure in English at GCC, is doing amazing work with the DEIA Committee of Senate. Here is a link to the most recent DEIA Committee Agenda, where you will see that Sangita is working closely with Dr. Brittany Grice, VP of HR, toward:

  • bringing in anonymous reporting system for DEIA-related student and faculty complaints
  • obtaining and using EEO grants to offer on-campus job fair days to attract diverse faculty hires
  • setting up compensation for DEIA training
  • advancing important work begun by April Bey, professor of Art and first chair of DEIA, in updating the DEIA website and Title IX reporting user-facing content and with the DEIA committee, to:
    - develop syllabi statements supporting minoritized students
    - implement land acknowledgement practices here at GCC
    - run lunch discussions about DEIA.

The work of the DEIA committee of Senate will not happen overnight, but as collaboration between faculty and with administration grows, prospects for progress brighten.

At Senate on March 2, a productive discussion was held regarding President Ryan Cornner’s idea to establish an Equity Committee of governance, which was broadly supported by senators. Senate talked about “holes” in governance capacity left by just having a DEIA Committee of Senate and a Student Equity and Achievement Committee:

  • equity issues affecting non-faculty (classified, administrative) employees do not have a governance “home”
  • the DEIA Committee’s purview within the Senate 10 + 1 did not allow for all issues to receive coverage
  • SEA expenditures could potentially be more effectively managed with a governance committee that brought together a college-wide range of issues

Finally, following on the creation of the Equity Guide, the C&I Committee continues to offer aid to instructors looking to infuse DEIA elements into their course outlines and course material, with Student Equity Counselor Alexandra Evans running regular C&I and DEIA Resource office hours. Many thanks to Alex for her work on this.

I am sure I’ve left out lots of things, but those are some highlights. The question I believe the college needs to ask itself on an ongoing basis is: are we further along today than we were yesterday? Thanks for reading this and see you next month.

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