My discussion topic may not be the sexiest: diversity procedures. But I guess it’s only appropriate, as I am not the sexiest Ephblogger. I’ll jump right to the six recommendations contained in this section and discuss each, in turn, below:

1. The College should include a statement of its commitment to a diverse community and the value it places on that diversity in the mission statement required in the next Self Study for Reaccreditation to be developed in 2006-2007. Such a statement will include an acknowledgement that the College is a community of men and women of diverse races, religions, national or ethnic backgrounds, and sexual identities and orientations. That statement would complement the existing nondiscrimination statements published in the Catalog and in faculty, staff, and student handbooks, and it (or a portion of the statement) should be conspicuously publicized.

Hard to argue with this one. I dare say it would not serve Williams well to publicly express a commitment to a monolithic community, or an antipathy to diversity. The only thing I would add: a statement about socio-economic diversity. I believe that social and economic background is far more likely to shape someone’s Williams experience, both in terms of how they understand their peers and what their peers learn from them, than race (arguably) national origin (likely) or religion (almost definitely). And the statement would send a nice message, in line with Williams’ recent (though still incomplete) progress in this arena (Questbridge, need blind international admissions, fin aid percentage up to 50 percent in most recent admitted class, etc.).

2. In the meantime, the present nondiscrimination statements and grievance procedures should be placed in more prominent locations in student, faculty, and staff handbooks, and be more easily accessed through the table of contents and indices of those publications. In addition, links to that statement and procedures should be included on the home pages of the Dean of the College, the Dean of the Faculty, the Vice President for Administration, and the Director of Human Resources as well as through home pages of selected student organizations. A further editorial recommendation for the Faculty Handbook is a rewording of disciplinary procedures in terms of the process rather than the sanction to be applied at the end of the process (i.e., “dismissal,” “major sanction other than dismissal,” “minor sanction”). Again, hard to argue with this one — sunshine is, after all, the best disinfectant. The more information students and staff have, the better. Especially in light of the well-publicized recent problematic episodes on campus.

3. The College should continue its annual report of the use of the Discrimination Grievance Procedures and include enough information about the context of incidents reported to provide education and awareness about discriminatory behavior. In line with current practice, other serious bias incidents may be communicated to the community on a “need-to-know” basis.
Ditto: again, the more information, the better (and I know D.Kane agrees with me on that …).

4. Recognizing that some other bias-related incidents may be more informally resolved, or unreported, the Dean of the College, the Director of the MCC, and the Committee on Diversity and Community should meet at least annually, or more often as necessary, to discuss and assess the campus climate. Again, not to sound like a broken record, but I like this idea (which echoes the first, long section of this report, where the writers seem to, surprisingly, advocate informal conflict resolution in certain circumstances). Despite being an attorney, I am all for informal adjudication whenever possible. Williams students have the potential to learn far more from resolving their own conflicts, with guidance from the administration as needed, than from a mysterious, formalized process resulting in a fiat from up high. Williams students, on the whole, are pretty intolerant of intolerance, and public exposure may often be the best remedy for problematic interactions. Of course, for more serious problems, administrative involvement becomes necessary (in other words, in the case of a half-soused idiot uttering a racial slur, I think peer pressure, individual discussions and counseling, and public apologies / shaming is likely to be the most effective avenue for redress, but the rare case of a systematic campaign of homophobia or sexual harassment would require more
formalized intervention). At the same time, it is important for Williams to monitor, to the extent possible, the volume of problematic interactions / informal resolutions, in order to maintain awareness of whether there are campus-wide problems or merely isolated, sporadic incidents of conflict. This is not to suggest that even one incident is tolerable, but there will always be one or two bad apples out of 2000 — especially once alcohol is involved. If there are several troubling interactions occurring on an annual basis, on the other hand, the administration, at the very least, should be aware of what’s going on and why.

5. To highlight the availability of grievance procedures and special Discrimination Grievance Advisors, education and training about the existing options for informal and formal resolution of concerns and complaints about discriminatory behavior, including classroom incidents, should be made available to academic and administrative heads of departments; to all student services personnel, including CLCs; and to student leaders/groups such as JAs, HCs, Peer Health Counselors, etc. In addition, the availability of the Discrimination Grievance Procedures for *any* kind of discriminatory behavior, only one of which is sexual harassment, should be highlighted.

Another point in favor of expanded information. Hard to see how this idea could cause any problems.

6. Education and training about ways of responding to expressions of concern about possible discriminatory behavior should be made available to all faculty and staff. One vehicle for faculty education could be the Project on Effective Teaching (PET). A vehicle for administrative and support staffs may be programs through the Administrative Council or the Personnel Advisory Board.

This could be useful or problematic, depending on what the training consists of. In this current formulation, it’s a little too vague to offer much guidance. For example, a program that teaches professors not to encourage / expect a student who is black to offer a “black perspective” on a given issue (a complaint uttered elsewhere on this site) would be useful. But, a program that in any way discourages students from freely expressing controversial ideas in a classroom out of fear of offending a fellow student would not serve the campus well.

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