Liberal Arts Colleges Form an Alliance to Address Racial Justice Issues

The presidents of six liberal arts colleges are leading a new consortium called the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance. The founders are the president of DePauw Univerity in Greencastle, Indiana, Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, Oberlin College in Ohio, Occidental College in Los Angeles, Pomona College in Claremont, California, and Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Lori S. White, president of DePauw University and one of the founders of the alliance said that “in the midst of a reawakened reckoning on racial justice issues and other historical and contemporary inequalities, there is no more important time for liberal arts colleges, with our emphasis on critical thinking, deep inquiry and shaping diverse leaders, to work and stand together to transform teaching, scholarship and student experiences.”

The presidents of 45 other institutions have joined the alliance. They will collaborate with the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Southern California. The University of Southern California center will host monthly virtual meetings throughout 2021, each focusing on a particular aspect of racial equity and offering strategies and practical approaches. Eight faculty or staff members from every member institution may participate in each session, which will be taught by leaders of national higher education organizations; tenured professors who study race relations; chief diversity officers and other administrators; and specialists from the center.

The center also will offer staff and faculty of participating institutions online access 24/7 to resources and tools, such as equity-related rubrics, case studies, videos, slide decks, and conversational scripts. The portal is expected to launch in late spring.

Member schools will have access to a survey of more than 500,000 students at higher education institutions across the country, as well as the results of two surveys the center is planning to conduct at member institutions. The surveys will query faculty members and staff members at all levels about their perceptions of equitable opportunities for advancement and promotion; their sense of belonging; their experiences in the workplace; their encounters with racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia; their respective institution’s response to reports of abuse, unfair treatment, and climate problems; and their appraisals of the institution’s commitment to equity.

 

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