Mar. 25, 2020

A Message from the Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion

To the Members of the Connecticut College Community:

Today, our semester officially resumes amid extraordinarily challenging circumstances that none of us would have predicted just two weeks ago. Yet, here we are, embarking upon the second half of the spring 2020 semester–far apart, and together. 

As we adjust to the great physical distances between us, I am reflecting on the vibrancy, connectedness and strength of the Conn community and our many expressions of goodwill. Most of our students have managed the feat of moving back home or to other locations around the world on incredibly short notice. Some of you were assisted by roommates, friends and College staff who have helped pack and store your belongings, purchased your airline tickets, and made sure you have the technological tools to continue your learning. Others remain on campus and are finding ways to bring joy to one another. Faculty and staff are working tirelessly to maintain critical services for students who remain on campus, supporting one another in adapting to online teaching and exchanging ideas about eldercare and homeschooling for small children. The humanity of the Conn community is on full display.

It is with this spirit that I write with updates on how the Division of Institutional Equity and Inclusion (DIEI) will adapt its work to continue helping to foster a strong and connected community.

DIEI Email Lists

Many of you currently receive periodic electronic communications from one or more DIEI departments including: Gender and Sexuality Programs, Race and Ethnicity Programs at Unity House, Religious and Spiritual Programs, and the Office of Sexual Violence Prevention and Advocacy. These email distribution lists will become more critical as our primary method of communicating with various constituencies about virtual opportunities to connect. Please register here to receive email communications from these departments.

Campus Climate Assessment

You will recall that we were slated to offer the national HEDS Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey beginning this week. We have postponed the distribution of this survey until the fall 2020 semester to allow for full participation from staff, faculty and students whose priority in the coming weeks is to adjust to our new conditions for learning and working. Students in the graduating Class of 2020 are invited to participate in interviews with DIEI professional staff members so that we can capture their feedback about their experiences of the climate over time. Please email us at diei@conncoll.edu or contact Senior Administrative Assistant Lynne McCue at 860-439-2035 to sign up for an interview time slot.

Professional Development for Faculty and Staff

We want to support faculty and staff who may wish to use some of this time to continue learning about identity, diversity and social justice. The DIEI professional staff will offer a few virtual sessions throughout the remainder of the spring term on a variety of topics. We will also compile educational resources on our DIEI website and share information about upcoming virtual meetings and training sessions. Here is one such opportunity: the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) will offer a free webinar entitled “Safeguarding Quality, Equity, and Inclusion as Learning Moves Online” this Friday at 1 p.m. EST. 

Cultural Programs and Events

DIEI will continue to provide opportunities for students on campus and the broader community to gather in virtual spaces. For example, the staff are working to organize online versions of some of our signature programs as well as special events to commemorate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Sign up for our DIEI email lists to stay informed about these events.

Equity and Inclusion FAQs

As with most campus offices, DIEI professional staff members are working remotely and will continue offering support services. The Title IX office is available to receive reports as needed and Confidential Advocates will continue serving in a 24-7 on-call capacity. You can reach the advocate on call through the Rave Guardian App or by calling Campus Safety. Any issues of bias may still be reported using the bias incident reporting form on CamelWeb. Visit the DIEI section of the COVID-19 FAQs website for more information about how the College is maintaining its commitment to equity and inclusion during this challenging time.

Again, I want to express my sincerest admiration for the Conn community. I am inspired by the extraordinary measures you are taking to care for yourselves and others in the wake of this global crisis. Please reach out if I can be helpful in any way. 

Sincerely,

John McKnight
Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion