As the semester comes to a close, we want to update you about the steps our offices are taking in response to events earlier this semester that impacted our community’s sense of belonging and safety. We also want to provide you with an overview of Tufts’ ongoing efforts to create a respectful and inclusive campus climate.
Upholding our Community Standards and Values
As many of you know, a number of troubling incidents (and images) occurred on campus this semester that contradicted our central values of inclusion, diversity, and respect. These events led the University to host public meetings and send community messages reaffirming Tufts’ values. In cases where students were involved, the University has employed its investigative and conduct processes to determine whether individual students should be held accountable for violations of University policy.
While the University cannot discuss or publish individual student sanction outcomes due to privacy law, we can share that our case-processing efforts have concluded for most of the cases begun in Spring 2019, and that others are well underway. Our offices remain committed to applying the policies and procedures that establish and protect our core values of inclusion, diversity, and respect. The Dean of Student Affairs Office will also continue to provide the community with a summary of conduct outcomes for the academic year to help ensure that we all remain informed about how the University upholds our standards and policies. The 2018-19 report will be released midway through Fall 2019.
Programs, Events, and Initiatives for Inclusion and Diversity
In addition to responding to events on our campus, the University sponsored a number of proactive programs and initiatives this spring to promote diversity, inclusion, and dialogue, both within our identity-based Centers and across and beyond the Division of Student Affairs. Hundreds of community members attended Tufts Table this semester, which was sponsored by the Provost’s Office Office and co-hosted by our Chief Diversity Officers and organizations across campus, including Bridging Differences; Tisch College of Civic Life; Department of Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora; Center for the Study of Race and Democracy; identity-based Centers; the University Chaplaincy; the International Center; and partners on our Health Science campuses in Boston and Grafton. Each Tufts Table brought together students, faculty, and staff to foster conversation and a deeper understanding of identity and belonging. Robin D’Angelo and Jack Hill also visited with over 350 faculty, students, and community members on March 4 to ask “Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.”
Along with individual programs, we are also pleased to be able to share several important staffing updates. The University has approved two new University-wide positions this spring that will support diversity and inclusion education. Reporting to the Medford/Somerville/SMFA- and Health Sciences-based Chief Diversity Officers, these positions should be filled in the next several weeks and in place for the start of the 2019-20 academic year. They will be dedicated to curriculum development and to supporting the training needs of students, faculty, and staff. We are also very happy to announce that Jessica Mitzner has been appointed Interim Program Administrator for the Women’s Center, and Marvin Casasola has been appointed Interim Program Administrator for the Latino Center at Tufts. Please join us as we welcome Jessica and Marvin into these key roles, which will provide crucial support to the Women’s and Latino Centers while permanent Center Director searches take place.
Related to staffing, a new webform has also been posted recently on the Student Affairs website that all current AS&E students may use to volunteer to be part of search processes for positions within the Division of Student Affairs. Please consider signing up to help us search for the Directors of the Asian American, Latino, and Women's Centers and/or to join our general pool. We are currently forming search committees for each Center Director search, and finalists will give presentations to students, faculty, and campus community members. We look forward to inviting as many student volunteers as possible to those presentations and furthering student participation in the Divisional search process.
Another action item from our community discussions this spring was a request from students for more work around diversity and inclusion at new student Orientation, specifically anti-racism education. Students partnered with the Orientation team this semester to identify speakers that will address living and learning in a diverse community. Our Orientation team is currently finalizing an anti-racist education program with an outside speaker for Orientation 2019, and we look forward to providing additional information about that new speaker and related programming in the coming months. In addition to new programming, the Office of Residential Life and Learning will also continue to work with Essential Partners this year to design facilitated conversations as part of the #MyTufts component of Orientation.
Orientation programs will dovetail with the many other ongoing programming efforts taking place through each of our identity-based Centers, as well as across the Division of Student Affairs and through the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer. We want to thank all those who attended the Open Forums on March 27 and May 1, in which we discussed the current searches for the new Directors of the Asian American, Latino, and Women's Centers, as well as and an upcoming external review of the ways Tufts supports each Center and their collective mission. In coordination with Dean Qu and Dean Glaser, a working group that includes the Center for STEM Diversity, Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, the Chief Diversity Officer, Institutional Research, and the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching is also now exploring a student survey about the climate of the Tufts campus for distribution next fall.
We want to thank students and community members for all the ways in which you foster an environment at Tufts that provides students, faculty, and staff with opportunities to learn, live, and grow regardless of their background, identity, and/or lived experience. Thank you for promoting dialogue, care, and respect. Our offices will continue working to ensure that our entire community has meaningful support, is aware of University values and policies, and is encouraged to celebrate their own identities and the identities of others. Your feedback is very welcome.
Wishing you luck in the final days of Exams and Review Boards,
Mary Pat McMahon
Dean of Student Affairs
Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, Medford/Somerville/SMFA
Executive Director, Office of Equal Opportunity