Occidental College will achieve its full potential as a leading liberal arts college only by broadening and deepening our decades-long institutional commitment to excellence and equity. In Spring 2011, the faculty renewed its commitment by voting to approve a Diversity Statement. This statement connects the educational value of diversity (as endorsed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s most current decisions on Affirmative Action) to the College’s commitment to equity. We emphasize this long-standing commitment to a mission of equity and excellence. Toward the goal of deepening and broadening this commitment, C.O.D.E demands that the Administration along with Faculty, Alumni, Staff, Students, and Trustees take action on the curricular, compositional, and structural changes necessary to situate Occidental College as a leading liberal arts college that reflects the diversity and dynamism of our urban location and prepares our students to become leaders in a diverse and pluralistic world.
The 29 actions below were generated by administrators, faculty and students over the past 30 years. Past commitment and attention to some of these items enabled the College to accomplish real changes and a superior educational experience for our students. However, in recent years, such recommendations have at best been paid lip service, often ignored, and more commonly, dismissed. The time has come for action: We must retake the mantle of leadership on diversity and equity!
We demand that the College hire a Senior Vice President to head a new Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Without high-level institutional leadership and accountability, Oxy’s commitment to diversity and equity has not, will not, and cannot be realized. Leading peer institutions have recognized this necessity as has the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU). Our current administrative personnel and structure do not reflect or represent the focused leadership needed to achieve equity and excellence on campus. We demand that this office and position have a permanent budget line (not soft $ sourced) commensurate with other VP offices, with the authority and responsibility to actualize the College’s rhetorical commitment to excellence and equity and establish the administrative oversight and staffing to implement concrete recommendations, old and new. A national search for this position should begin in Spring 2014 to hire a person by July 1, 2014. Members of CODE are to draft the job description and serve on the search committee.
Further, we demand that the following and other actions be developed and implemented by the new Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. These actions represent a starting point for Occidental’s reclamation of leadership on these issues.
ACTION 2. Hire an Ombudsperson who, among other strengths, has demonstrated capacity and experience working with underrepresented students, faculty, and staff.
Faculty Hiring, Retention, and Support
The faculty reflect and advance the College mission. Recognizing this the College must invest in developing a faculty that demonstrates the fundamental link between academic excellence and equity. To achieve this, the College must:
ACTION 3. Every proposal for a new hire must be defined according to the College’s mission of equity and diversity, focusing on hiring underrepresented faculty of color. In addition, dedicate at least 5 Target of Opportunity hires immediately to redress our crisis situation. Proposals should also address how the search will encourage and involve direct student participation.
ACTION 4. Establish and regularize AC, APC, and departmental training in methods for diversifying and retaining faculty from historically underrepresented groups of color.
ACTION 5. Reestablish institutional membership and active participation in the Consortium for Faculty Diversity in Liberal Arts Colleges:http://www.gettysburg.edu/about/offices/provost/cfd/http://www.gettysburg.edu/about/offices/provost/cfd/
Establish Institutional Capacity
The College currently lacks the capacity to meet its mission of excellence and equity. In order to achieve its mission, the College must address three primary deficiencies:
1) absent and inadequate planning with measurable goals and targets for achieving equity at all levels;
2) absent and inadequate collection, assessment, and dissemination of data on equity; and,
3) absent and inadequate professional development tools and mechanisms for achieving goals for diversity and equity campus-wide.
In order to build institutional capacity to achieve its Mission, the College must:
ACTION 6. Under the leadership of the aforementioned Senior VP, immediately review all previously issued reports on the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion at Occidental and assess progress and regress on specific recommendations made over the last 30+ years.
ACTION 7. Create a detailed plan, including measurable targets and goals for achieving racial and ethnic equity throughout the College, reflecting and responding to the diversity of our location in the City of Los Angeles.
ACTION 8. Maintain accessible and transparent statistics on diversity and equity, and reinvigorate the Diversity Scorecard to ensure semi-annual reporting of equity progress across all areas of the College.
ACTION 9. Institutionalize on-going professional development and training for all faculty, administrators, and staff on race and micro-aggression in the classroom and the broader campus, including integration of programs that have already proven to be successful, (e.g.; Intergroup Dialogue).
ACTION 10. Become an official Affirmative Action institution with required personnel and monitoring. Continue to distinguish between affirmative action and diversity categories in hiring.
ACTION 11. In all campus hires, prioritize demonstrated skills and experience working with diverse communities and working to advance equity.
Our Mission commits us to prepare our students to excel and provide leadership in a diverse and dynamic society. As the curriculum is the centerpiece of such an effort, the College must:
ACTION 12. Provide new and expanded resources and support for curricular initiatives dedicated to the Mission of Excellence and Equity (e.g.; MSI, Africana Studies, Intergroup Dialogue). This requires fully funded resources including faculty lines, administrative support, and a dedicated budget for programming and support.
ACTION 13. Establish institutionalized funding to support research and curriculum development focused on diversity and equity.
ACTION 14. Re-center the CSP curricula on the Mission of Excellence and Equity. Return to a Core Program that serves as a means of propagating core values of justice.
Alumni and Institutional Advancement Actions
ACTION 15. Prioritize connections with alumni of color to vigorously engage them in College decision-making and governance, programs, initiatives, and giving. Hire staff with expertise in the outreach to and cultivation of these alumni.
ACTION 16. Develop and implement a robust fundraising program to advance diversity and equity and support these 29 actions.
Occidental’s goal should be to maximize the academic and co-curricular achievement of students of color on campus. Students of color face unique challenges that the school should invest resources to alleviate. The goal of CODE is to maximize the number of students of color with 3.0 GPAs and to ensure their equitable representation in all the areas of student success. These actions are geared towards achieving that goal.
Action 17: Compensate cultural club leaders with 2 academic units for each semester they are active. Student athletes are compensated for the hours they invest. Likewise, cultural club leaders invest a great deal of time and energy into creating programs to serve the larger campus. The institution benefits from this work, especially in its promotion of Diversity and Equity.
Action 18: Separate funds should be allocated specifically for cultural club programming. Oxy should truly invest in our commitment to diversity and equity by allocating separate, guaranteed funds for cultural organizations to program for the year.
Action 19: Enhance programming at orientation that emphasizes diversity and equity and engages nationally recognized, cutting edge professional leadership. This should include a specific orientation event dinner for students of color to connect with faculty and staff of color. Oxy celebrates the achievements of students of color with cultural graduation ceremonies at the end of their college career, but it is imperative to provide resources and mentorship at the beginning to ensure that more students succeed.
Action 20: The school should hire a professional staff member to support first-generation students. Currently, a student employee is expected to fulfill this task that requires a great deal of time and effort. It is necessary to support first generation students by having a professional staff completely devoted to this task.
Action 21: Oxy should move towards a SAT/ACT optional admissions policy. Studies show that test scores are the biggest indicator of class and race privilege. Allowing for a more holistic admissions policy would create a more inclusive student body.
Action 22: Oxy should re-commit to a need-blind admissions policy.
Action 23: Emmons Health Center should specifically train and hire medical, psychological, and nutritional staff who are well versed in the specific needs of students of color.
Action 24: Oxy should invest resources and money into reinvigorating and establishing more counter spaces for students of color. The ICC, MSI, Pauley Hall, and Greek life organizations that focus on students of color are important resources for students of color. More investment needs to occur to maximize their impact for students. Pauley Hall should also return to being primarily a multicultural space, and not a first year hall.
Action 25: Admissions should focus outreach to inner-city schools, and other schools in areas that are heavily populated by people of color including Los Angeles. Students who come from these backgrounds do not necessarily know about Oxy, so connecting with them would provide a more inclusive and equitable campus population. The MVP program should be expanded and paired with a renewed focus on recruiting students of color from working class backgrounds.
ACTION 26. Re-establish an Irvine Scholars-type program and exchange programs with U.S. Department of Education defined Postsecondary Institutions Enrolling Populations with Significant Percentages of Minority Students (e.g.; HBCUs, HSIs) that have proven track records of integrating admissions and retention for underrepresented students of color with a focus on the Mission of Excellence and Equity.
ACTION 27. Establish membership in other programs with records of success with underrepresented students such as the Posse Foundation (http://www.possefoundation.org/) and Project Grad (http://www.projectgradla.org/). Research other programs, such as USC’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative (http://www.uscnai.com/) to adapt as useful to Occidental’s mission.
ACTION 28. Expand support for existing curricular, co-curricular, and academic support programs that directly engage the Mission of Excellence and Equity (especially MSI, ICC, Intergroup Dialogue, and SSAP) in an effort to empower students as they develop skills and talents to excel academically and become community leaders around equity.
ACTION 29. Enhance support for faculty mentoring of historically underrepresented students through funding, training, course releases, and other resources.