Written By: Dorette Dayan
The Brooklyn College Implementation Team for Racial Justice has developed “Action Plans” based on recommendations made by students, staff, and faculty in the recent listening sessions.
These plans were sent out via email, on Sept. 28, Oct. 5, and Oct. 13, by Chief Diversity Officer Anthony Brown, Vice President of Student Affairs Ronald Jackson, and Business Management Department Chairperson James Lynch, on behalf of the Implementation Team for Racial Justice.
At the staff listening session recently, staff expressed concerns about fairness in hiring and promotion. In reaction, the team promised mentors to support the staff and ensure that they are correctly informed about their work. These mentors will cultivate a safe space for staff members to share any personal concerns or further suggestions. Furthermore, there will be professional development to prepare staff to advance their careers, and job postings will now be openly available on the CUNY website.
Also, staff as well as school management training sessions will be held to inform staff of relevant CUNY policies in regard to discrimination. The Implementation Team plans on hosting an informational session to review the current governing system of the college.
“It will also host a staff-led discussion of the options for enhancing staff representation and voice in the governance structures of the College,” they wrote in the email.
At the student listening sessions, student concerns focused on the lack of diversity in the faculty and curriculum and requested additional student input regarding these matters. According to the Team, students will be given platforms outside of the classroom to discuss racial issues.
“In addition, the Office of Diversity and Equity has designated staff to assist students with issues related to Title IX, harassment, and discrimination,” the team wrote.
Faculty will be prepared with enhanced implicit bias training sessions, which will be offered more often, along with others “that will focus on how to manage healthy discussions of race and racism in the classroom.”
To include more student input, the team wrote that, “Each academic department is required to have student representation on its curriculum committee.” They recommended that the Student Government should make a more conscious effort to diversify student representatives on faculty councils, and each department in Brooklyn College should also develop student advisory councils, if they don’t already have one.
The faculty also expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of diverse faculty members and the unpaid, overcompensated work that they are expected to complete.
BC is currently not able to hire more faculty members due to budget restrictions, but hopes to diversify new faculty hired once the hiring process begins again. The team would like to enhance promotions and tenure by including faculty service and student mentorship in the selection process, and by appointing a faculty mentor to guide the junior faculty.
The faculty continues to have the same outlet for complaints and concerns in the Office of Diversity and Equities.
Lastly, the Team recommended the founding and fundraising of a faculty support fund.
“The College needs a flexible funding source to support a number of faculty initiatives that support diversity,” they wrote.
As staff, students, and faculty await the action plans’ commencement, many are cautiously optimistic about success.
“In each case the Team is responsive, thoughtful, and proactive,” film professor Alexandra Juhasz, who attended the faculty listening session, said of the action plans. “But as can be expected—given how they were selected, where they report, and what little access they have to resources—their solutions make the best of systems, workers, and programs already in place, already underfunded and under-supported, and which themselves are in need of fundamental change.”
“We are pleased with this progress and eager to continue the work,” the Team concluded.