Important message from President Casey about McDaniel’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
McDaniel College is expanding its efforts on behalf of diversity, equity and inclusion. A new McDaniel Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Board will inform a more comprehensive campus-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan and immediately make recommendations on key issues, including the appropriate staffing model to support our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, analysis of data, examination of policies, and support of the Black Lives Matter movement. McDaniel will also develop a clear reporting structure for community members to elevate concerns about discrimination or acts of racial injustice, increase training among student groups, expand our White Accountability Group, establish a Leadership Council for student organizations serving minority or underrepresented students, and review our curriculum to consider expansion of multi-cultural and racial justice course offerings. Additionally, McDaniel will officially be closed and declare a paid employee holiday this Friday, June 19, to celebrate Juneteenth, the traditional day to recognize the end of slavery.
Dear McDaniel Family,
Over the past several weeks, our country and our College have been challenged to speak out and stand up for Black lives. I too have been challenged both personally and professionally to institute systemic change that leads to increased racial and social justice at McDaniel. I am eager to expand this work. Black Lives Matter.
My commitment to make sure that any next step is a part of a strategic, sustained effort, may have caused McDaniel to be quieter than some other institutions. My hope is to share with you that this quiet has not been silence, but rather a period of analysis and reflection that have helped identify ways to strengthen efforts we have already made or that are in motion and lead to even more systemic and meaningful changes to ensure equity at the College. Much of this work must be done first by critically evaluating the structures and systems in place at our school.
Listening was and is the initial step. I felt this keenly during a Zoom conversation with Black alumni a week ago. Hearing from a group of alumni about the depth and breadth of their pain and seeing the diverse generations of alumni who have been impacted by oppression on our campus was profoundly impactful. I spent additional time over the last week speaking one-on-one with members of our community asking how McDaniel can and must be a more just and equitable college. From these insights, I wish to announce the first concrete step in our community’s efforts: the establishment of the McDaniel Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Board.
This Advisory Board, consisting of alumni and employees of color, seeks to ensure that our leadership team has direct guidance on our efforts to recruit, retain, empower, and engage our current students, employees, and alumni of color. In addition to serving an important role in accountability, their insights will inform a more comprehensive campus-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan. I expect to convene the Advisory Board for the first time in the next few weeks.
In the near-term, it is clear to me that there are specific issues that require immediate input from the Advisory Board. To that end, I will be asking the Advisory Board to discuss and make recommendations on the following:
- The appropriate staffing model to support our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts: It is unclear to me at this time the best staffing model for McDaniel as we recognize the need for professional support to enact the changes we will make on our campus. Many institutions have created a Chief Diversity Officer that reports to the President to oversee and coordinate all diversity efforts across campus. However, I have also heard concerns that this model implies that these efforts are the sole responsibility of one member of our community; and an alternative model—one in which multiple staff with specific responsibilities related to diversity, equity and inclusion are embedded in departments across campus—might be more appropriate. I am interested in the recommendation of the Advisory Board on the right path for our institution. Regardless, we will commit the financial resources necessary to implement the model selected. My hope is that any position(s) will be in place by the end of fall term at the latest.
- Analysis of data: We must engage in analysis of institutional data for evidence of bias or prejudice. I will be asking the Advisory Board to immediately review the following data sets (some of which are collected; others not), though I also expect that the Advisory Board will have additional data they might like to review:
- Honor and Conduct cases broken out by race, including the racial make-up of the Honor and Conduct Boards themselves;
- Campus Safety Incident Reports, broken out by race;
- Salaries of BIPOC employees compared to white counterparts;
- Evaluation of print materials and website images for the purposes of ensuring equal representation and identifying sub-conscious messaging about race and power;
- Financial aid distribution, to ensure equitable awarding of institutional financial aid;
- Percentage of applicants of color for recent open employee positions and the percentage of those that received an offer compared to the overall candidate pool.
- Examination of policies: We intend to conduct a careful review of all policy documents in partnership with the Advisory Board and seek their recommendations for changes. Policy documents include the Academic Catalog, Employee Handbook, and Student Handbook. This also includes finalizing our no-tolerance policy on symbols of exclusion, including the Confederate flag. Ensuring our campus abides by this new policy will require an audit of our institutional history books, including Fearless and Bold and class yearbooks. We will work with the Advisory Board to develop a plan that helps us denounce any part of our history that does not align with our values while ensuring we do not erase the College’s history from our archives.
- Support of the Black Lives Matter movement: We seek to make visible our support of Black lives and the Black Lives Matter movement. Guidance from the Advisory Board will help us determine where and how to show our enduring support.
In addition, additional administrative changes will be made to accomplish the following in the coming weeks and months:
- Develop a clear reporting structure for community members to elevate concerns about discrimination or acts of racial injustice. All members of our community must know how to easily report acts of bias, discrimination, or racial injustice and know that reports will reach appropriate administrators.
- Increase training among student groups, especially those in positions of authority. This will begin with Resident Advisors and Tour Guides/Student Ambassadors.
- Expand our White Accountability Group. This group, currently led by our Wellness staff, will provide white employees a place to learn how to develop a more just campus without burdening our BIPOC employees.
- Establish a Leadership Council for student organizations serving minority or underrepresented students. Importantly, a Student Visitor to the Board of Trustees will be selected from this council.
- Review our curriculum to consider expansion of multi-cultural and racial justice course offerings.
Our work also extends off-campus. I am committed to meet with Westminster’s Mayor to advocate for the adoption of the “8 Can’t Wait” policing reform, recently advocated by President Obama. I also plan to identify safe ways to facilitate meaningful conversation between our students of color and the Westminster Police Department.
Finally, in solidarity with our African-American community members, McDaniel College will officially be closed and declare a paid employee holiday this Friday, June 19, to celebrate Juneteenth, the traditional day to recognize the end of slavery. This holiday will be effective June 2020 and on-going annually. Each year, I will take this day to pause and reflect on my on-going journey to be actively anti-racist while celebrating the contributions Black Americans have made to our country. I invite you to join me in this deeply personal work.
As we develop these goals together, we must have the courage to see them through. At the Board of Trustees meeting this month, I will call for establishing a Board Oversight Committee who will ensure that we do not lose focus. Following each Board meeting, we will share with our campus community our progress on the efforts outlined above and others that may emerge from the Advisory Board.
Accountability is a reflection of a committed relationship. We do not hold people or institutions accountable unless we care about them deeply. I am grateful to our alumni, students, and community members whose love for this institution through calls for accountability have led us to enact these changes. McDaniel will become a better, more just community for their efforts.
President Roger Casey
Visit our Diversity and Inclusion webpage for more information about efforts taken by the College to address matters of equity, inclusion, and diversity.