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Anti-Racism Action Plan

June 19, 2020

Today, the College of the Holy Cross affirms our commitment to be an actively anti-racist organization. We join the voices around the country and globe to proclaim that Black Lives Matter. 

To further affirm this commitment, the Board of Trustees is establishing a permanent Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. Trustee members of this committee will receive ongoing updates on DEI work at the College, and will engage with students, faculty and staff directly on DEI priorities. Trustee Francine Rosado-Cruz '94, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Davis, Polk & Wardwell, LLP, has agreed to chair this committee. More details will be forthcoming.

Our focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is not new, and there is foundational work that will help us propel our goals forward. Some recent examples of our collective efforts include:

  • The College created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan in April 2019 and appointed the DEI Implementation Team, which issued an update of its work in February, 2020.
  • We have fortified the staffing in the Office of Multicultural Education (OME) with the hires of Michelle Rosa Martins, Amie Archambault and Christopher Campbell ‘15. We are also thankful for the presence and support of Mariel Aleman ‘18 and Fr. Frank Savadera, S.J., as part of the OME community.
  • 36% of tenure-track faculty hires in the past five years self-identify as African American or Black; Hispanic or Latina/o/x; Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander; or multi-racial.
  • We have hired a new director of the Office of Title IX and Equal Opportunity. This newly configured office centralizes investigation and adjudication of equal opportunity, discrimination and harassment complaints based on all protected identities – including on the basis of race, ethnicity and national origin. As part of the commitment to this reimagined office, the College has increased the number of staff members from two to six.
  • The College created a new DEI structure with the creation of the Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion position in July 2019.
  • We instituted a revised, required HR orientation program, which includes facilitator-led Title IX, mission, and diversity trainings for all new staff hired at the College.
  • Associate Provost Amit Taneja collaborated with the Montserrat program to offer a number of faculty training workshops each semester to better prepare faculty to have difficult or sensitive conversations in the classroom.
  • The College has maintained its commitment to meeting full demonstrated financial need. The College’s financial aid budget has expanded from $50 Million in 2015-16 to $72 Million for 2020-21. Ninety-five percent of the non-athletic aid supports students with financial need.
  • The College has initiated its process to create our next strategic plan, and DEI & Mission considerations will be key pillars of that plan. 

Despite these structural changes, resource allocations and successes, we acknowledge that we need to do much more. In addition to our continued work on the DEI plan, we are today committing to new initiatives in a variety of areas.

The College will take the following action steps to advance our commitments to anti-racism, equity and inclusion:

Creating a Culture of Anti-Racism

In order to promote a culture of anti-racism, we will need strategies that work at the individual, departmental and institutional level.

  • In Spring of 2020, Fr. Boroughs established a presidential initiative for our campus to engage with the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ (AAC&U) Institute on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation. Staff currently participating in this training will propose institutional strategies for consideration.
  • The College has created a new centralized anti-racism website to collate our efforts, programs, action steps and resources: http://holycross.edu/anti-racism
  • Next week, we will announce details for a webinar titled “How to Write an Anti-Racism Action Plan.” This webinar will be open to all students, faculty and staff, and will prioritize strategies to respond to anti-Black racism. This action planning will allow all members of our community to make personal commitments to work for change.
  • We acknowledge that anti-racism plans cannot be limited to individual efforts, and similar guides will be created for campus offices and departments to create their own specific anti-racism plans over the summer.

Training, Education & Anti-Racist Action Planning

We heard a clear call that the burden of education and anti-racism work cannot fall on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Simultaneously we heard strong enthusiasm from white students, faculty and staff to be involved in the work for racial justice, to educate themselves, and to (re)commit to the work of anti-racism. In each of the following programs, we will center the voices and experiences of Black and African American individuals, and specifically address anti-racist practices to eradicate anti-Black racism.

  • We will announce details for a six-week summer series for students titled “Becoming a White Ally for Racial Justice” next week.
  • The Chaplains’ Office will be offering a staff reflection series in August based on Fr. Bryan Massingale’s book, “Racial Justice and the Catholic Church.”
  • Chief Shawn de Jong, Chief of Police/Director of Public Safety, will meet with students to discuss their concerns and ideas over the summer. Additionally, DPS officers will receive additional anti-bias and de-escalation training this summer.
  • The Office of Multicultural Education (OME) is hosting the following “Listen and Learn” book series over the summer.
    • “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo (June 15–26)
    • “Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond” by Marc Lamont Hill (July 6–17)
    • “Eloquent Rage”by Brittney Cooper (July 20–31)
  • A list of educational resources (books, articles, videos) is available on the College’s anti-racism website, and will continue to be updated as new resources are made available. The College Library has ordered copies of several books listed on this resource page.
  • The Athletics Department is enhancing its bias and anti-discrimination training for student athletes and staff, and is incorporating the racial history of the College in its athlete development curriculum.
  • A group of faculty are planning summer workshops to support students who want to learn more about, or engage with, activism. More details will be shared shortly.
  • Associate Provost Taneja will work with OME, the Chaplains’ Office, and Student Affairs to explore the merits of establishing an “Intergroup Dialogue Program” with an emphasis on cross-racial dialogue.
  • Members of the Student Government Association (SGA) have committed to support anti-racism and other DEI efforts. More detailed plans will be developed over the summer.
  • The Gateways Orientation Program will include new required DEI sessions for all incoming students and will continue to offer DEI workshops throughout the academic year as part of the extended orientation program.

Faculty & Curriculum

We have heard a clear refrain from our students that they desire more breadth and depth of conversations about race, racism, anti-racism and other topics related to social justice within the curriculum.

  • Provost Margaret Freije has announced course development grants for faculty this summer to develop new courses, or to significantly revise existing courses, around topics of race, racism and anti-racism.
  • The Common Requirements Steering Committee will continue to explore the development of a social justice requirement. The co-chairs of the committee will be seeking input from students regarding this requirement.
  • Associate Provost Taneja will send out a call for faculty interested in reviewing how anti-racism is currently covered within the curriculum, how that curricular coverage can be strengthened, and to explore faculty interest in developing a team-taught “Intro to Anti-Racism” course.
  • Provost Freije will convene an ad-hoc committee to ensure our practices and policies recognize and support our faculty who are engaged in the work of educating our students about race, racism and anti-racism.
  • Associate Provost Taneja, in collaboration with Prof. Alison Bryant Ludden from the Montserrat Program, will continue to offer equity and inclusion focused workshops for faculty this summer and during the academic year.  

Civic-Engagement & National Conversation

We recognize that efforts on campus and beyond need to engage with the national conversation around race, racism, colorism and anti-racism. Furthermore, we encourage our students, faculty and staff to be civically engaged and support organizations whose work is focused on racial justice, change and reconciliation.

  • Associate Provost Taneja and Dean Michelle Bata will convene a group of students, faculty and staff this summer to prepare for thoughtful engagement with the 2020 elections. Our goal is to promote engagement and dialogue on a number of political issues, including conversations that are related to race.
    • The Office of Student Involvement will continue its tradition of partnering with the Student Government Association and Government and Community Relations, and will add Athletics as a new partner to promote voter registration and voter engagement efforts.
  • Many members of our community have reached out to share the ways in which they are engaging with national, regional and local organizations to promote racial justice. We are actively collecting this list of engagement opportunities. We call upon all members of our community, including alumni, to actively participate and support the work of racial justice organizations. This list is available on the College’s anti-racism website, and will continue to be updated.
  • The College will enhance curricular and co-curricular offerings that enable students to engage with issues of race, racism and anti-racism within the Worcester community.
  • The McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture is organizing summer programming showcasing alumni and community leaders engaged with racial justice work on how to translate broad concerns into meaningful action. Details are forthcoming.
  • Civitas Community Engagement Leadership Institute will provide an opportunity for students to connect with one another in both a large group setting and smaller group discussions led by students around mission, service, and racial and economic justice. Resources will be available to aid students in finding avenues through which they can be engaged in service and/or social justice efforts while participating in the Institute. Sessions will be held between 8–9:30 p.m. ET on Sunday evenings from July 19 - August 16.
  • The College will establish an “Anti-Racism Capacity Building Fund” for student organizations. One student organization each year will receive a Presidential Award for its work on anti-racism efforts.

Support, Resources & Ensuring Equitable Access

We recognize the detrimental impacts of interpersonal and structural racism on the physical, mental, financial, emotional and spiritual health of individuals. Those engaged with racial justice and anti-racist work may benefit from community and care. Therefore, we commit to providing support and resources to support those impacted by racism and those who are willing to work for racial justice.

  • The College Chaplains are offering a “Reflection and Prayer for Racial Justice” series on Mondays during June.
  • The Office of Multicultural Education will continue to offer gathering, education and discussion space with its Tuesday evening “6 feet. 20 seconds.” and “Watch Wednesday” programs.
  • The Counseling Center will continue to offer individual support for students, and will offer a “Self-Care Conversations for Social Justice Activists” series over the summer.
  • Associate Provost Taneja and Dean Bata launched an “Equity Study on the Experiences of Students from Lower Income Backgrounds” in February of 2020. This work was halted because of COVID-19, but will resume in the 2020-21 academic year.
  • The College will establish a new “Student Emergency Aid Committee” to consolidate emergency aid funds and to simplify the process for students to apply for emergency aid.
    • Furthermore, this group will explore and identify “emergency” versus “equity” needs with the goal of identifying and reducing financial or other barriers that may inhibit students from full participation in the undergraduate experience.
  • The Office of Advancement will work with the committees listed above to identify key equity needs and to identify fundraising opportunities to meet these needs.
  • Our alumni of color have organized a number of formal and informal meeting spaces for recent graduates and current students. These conversations will continue over the summer and will be announced on the “Holy Cross ALANA Alums” Facebook page.

Recruitment of Diverse Communities

We will continue and enhance our commitment to recruit diverse communities – students, faculty and staff – to our campus.

  • The College has already established a “Mission and Diversity Search Ambassadors” program with trained staff members. These search ambassadors will be required for all student-facing and high-impact decision making staff searches.
    • Furthermore, the College will expand its pilot for the “Student Mission and Diversity Search Ambassadors” to train students to participate in searches that require student input, including faculty searches.
  • The College recognizes the need to continue to enhance its efforts to recruit and support a diverse population of students. To support these efforts the College joined the American Talent Initiative in 2018. In addition, the College is currently searching for a Vice Provost for Enrollment Management to oversee the efforts of Admissions and Financial Aid. A key requirement for this position states that the candidate must have a “proven track record of building and sustaining racial, ethnic, first-generation, and economic diversity in a student body and a deep understanding of the value of a diverse community.”
  • Associate Provost Taneja piloted an admissions yield effort by inviting a small group of recent alumni of color to reach out to admitted students. We will expand this program for the next admissions cycle.

Accountability & Structure

The work of anti-racism requires us to be accountable to one another and to the community. We commit to the following structures to enable this work, and to provide transparency in our efforts.

  • The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee of the Board of Trustees will be a key accountability mechanism for this action plan. This committee will receive updates on the commitments made in this plan at each meeting (three times a year). 
  • The “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Implementation Team” will be tasked to coordinate the execution of this plan. Furthermore,
    • Representatives from Alumni Relations and the Office of Title IX and Equal Opportunity will be added to this team
    • The mandate of the team will be expanded to coordinate the College-wide execution of DEI educational efforts.
    • The team will provide updates on the steps outlined in this anti-racism action plan in its report. A report will be issued within the first month of the fall and spring semesters.
    • This team will consider additional goals, programs and interventions to address national dialogues or urgent campus needs as they emerge.
  • The recent campus-climate survey data indicate that members of our community face marginalization, including microaggressions. The College will create a central reporting website over the summer to facilitate reporting of bias or discriminatory behaviors.  Furthermore, we will enhance anti-racist responses in our bystander trainings.
  • The College will investigate “Restorative Justice” models, outline which circumstances might be appropriate for the use of such models, and explore what form of staff training in these models might be required for these efforts to be successful.
  • The College will commit to periodic campus-climate studies to assess the impact of our efforts over time. The College Assessment Committee will propose the frequency of these studies and identify any national or consortia surveys that might be appropriate for this goal by the end of the Fall 2020 semester.

We believe that these action steps reflect and reaffirm our commitments to anti-racism.