Written By: Dorette Dayan
Last Wednesday, the Implementation Team for Racial Justice at Brooklyn College held two listening sessions for faculty members to discuss the college’s anti-racist agenda as it pertains to them.
Chief Diversity Officer Anthony Brown, Vice President of Student Affairs Ronald Jackson, and Business Management Department Chairperson James Lynch ran both Zoom sessions, at 12 PM and 6 PM.
“The purpose of this particular session is to solicit feedback from faculty regarding supportive measures you need in addressing racism in all of its forms at Brooklyn College, but general concerns will be entertained as well,” Said Anthony Brown.
He explained that this is an evolving process and that they hope to gain feedback by consistently holding listening sessions.
Professor Alexandra Juhasz of the Film Department opened up the conversation by addressing the problem of lack of representation.
“The under-representation of faculty of color is an egregious problem,” Juhasz said.
Brown shared that The Office of Diversity and Equity is not certifying any homogeneous hiring committees with the aim of diversifying said committees. Also, Brown said the college has been hiring more people of color, though that may not always be easy to notice since in comparison with other institutions because Brooklyn College hires smaller numbers of faculty at a time.
Some faculty members expressed their concerns about budget cuts limiting the resources available to implement the recommendations made at these listening sessions.
“What is the college going to actually do with any of these recommendations that actually involves investing some money instead of asking people to do more when they’re already doing way more than they should?” asked Professor Mobina Hashmi of the Television, Radio and Emerging Media Department.
Jackson clarified that most of the problems that have been brought up have to do with student-faculty interactions, which doesn’t require a lot of money. Still, faculty members feel overwhelmed and that they’re doing a lot of extra, unpaid work to compensate for lack of funds, such as mentoring and participating on committees like the implementation team.
Other faculty members voiced their frustration from the lack of action taken by Brooklyn College’s administration.
“We don’t need any more listening sessions,” said Professor Hashmi. “We need action. That is something that we’ve said repeatedly and that hasn’t been listened to.”
Professor Hyuna Park shared her experience as part of a majority white committee she was on. “I felt very isolated as a person of color in that situation,” she said. She elaborated that faculty members of color are not always represented in all different levels and leadership positions. She requested that one of the goals of the Implementation Team be “to make sure important decisions are made by a diversified body to prevent that kind of unfair situation.”
According to Brown, this is not the first time that they’ve heard of faculty members and students feeling isolated as people of color.
“That climate will not be tolerated,” he promised.
The faculty members closed the meeting by expressing their appreciation towards the unpaid volunteer work that the Implementation Team is doing, which is necessary in making Brooklyn College a better place.