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Minutes

January 13th, 1998

  • Location: Sayles-Hill 251
  • Time: 4:15 pm
  • Present: President Stephen Lewis; Deans Mark Govoni, Clem Shearer; Professors Scott Bierman, David MacCallum, Jerry Mohrig, Bill Titus, Chico Zimmerman; Students Victor Chedid, Kelly Knutsen, Jordan McEntyre; Staff person Doug Foxgrover; Alumni Observer Lee Mauk
  • Absent: Dean Elizabeth McKinsey; Students Kristi Kendall, Bill Martin; Staff person Sandra Pieri; Trustee Observer Thomas Colwell
  • Guests: John Ramsay, Sidsel Overgaard
  • Secretary: Christine Fletcher
  • Keywords: admissions, diversity, statement re, memorandum on minority

Approval of Minutes


The minutes for the November 10, 1997 meeting were approved by a voice vote without dissent. The decision notice resultant of that meeting was amended to eliminate the final sentence on committee membership. The final decision notice reads as follows: "At the meeting of November 10, 1997, the College Council decided by a unanimous voice vote to designate a subcommittee for the purpose of bringing proposals for changes to the Policies Against Sexual Assault and Violence and Against Sexual Harassment to the Council during the 1997-1998 academic year."

President's Report


President Stephen Lewis reported that admissions reports to date show an increase in African American applicants this year of 100%, and an increase in total multicultural student applications of 12%. President Lewis credited these increases in part to the new Alumni Admissions Board and to the Multicultural Alumni Network. He also noted increased reunion activity, and that the Alumni Annual Fund is running 10% ahead of last year's progress.

21st Century Committee


President Lewis introduced John Ramsay as a representative from the 21st Century Committee. Mr. Ramsay indicated that the committee was mainly interested in receiving feed-back from the Council. He reported that committee members have met staff members from a number of offices on campus including the Career Center, Business Office, External Relations, Student Financial Services, Treasurer's Advisory Committee, Facilities, ECC, Chaplain, and the Math, Geology, and Sociology/Anthropology Departments, and will continue to gain more input from additional offices. He also reviewed the guiding criteria of the committee, that the issues be approachable, fundamental to the interests of the College, and of long-term significance to Carleton. The committee intends to have a draft for the community by mid-April, and be ready for a wider discussion before the last faculty meeting and Council meeting in the spring.

Professor Jerry Mohrig inquired as to how the committee intends to distribute the issues decided upon to the community. He stated that he felt it would be appropriate to go back to the community after the issues are prioritized to promote wider knowledge and recognition of the committee's findings. The Council expressed the feeling that discussion on the eventual findings within the Council and the broader community would be valuable. President Lewis noted the importance of grounding the committee's work within financial projections for the future.

Professor Bill Titus asked about the nature of the subcommittees referred to in the committee's preliminary document. Mr. Ramsay explained that discussion on the nature of subcommittees would occur in the near future. He and Dean Clem Shearer also noted that the subcommittees would be likely to serve largely as arenas for in depth discussion of concerns and issues. Questions were also raised as to the specificity of recommendations or final results from the committee. Discussion ensued wherein Council members urged that specific recommendations rather than general statements of need would be most useful. The concern was raised by several Council members that the committee be empowered to "think boldly" in areas of curriculum and possibilities of change. Professor Mohrig asked how comfortable the committee was about the level of involvement of the larger community in its work.

President Lewis voiced his opinion that diversity was a major issue that deserved more attention in the committee's work. Professor Mohrig also pointed out that there was no mention of educational technology in the document, the committee representatives noted that technology was one of several topic areas they have considered as broad issues that affect every other issue under discussion.

Student Employment Committee


Professor Jerry Mohrig reported that the committee is moving ahead strongly, working for the potential of full student employment for all interested students and preparing a proposal by the end of winter term.

Budget Committee


Dean Shearer directed the Council's attention to the memo concerning the budget which he had distributed to the Council. He noted that the committee was working on budgeting requests for the coming year, which exceeded the projected revenue by $2.2 million. Dean Shearer said that most of these requests were for FTE's. He also noted that estimates for the total income show an increase of $3.3 million. Professor Bill Titus asked about the requests for FTE's; Dean Shearer replied that there were requests for about 20 FTE positions. Professor Jerry Mohrig asked about the procedure of reviewing requests for FTE positions. Dean Shearer replied that this is the first year with so many requests, but that the committee examines requests carefully in consideration of many issues including program accommodation and faculty support. Professor Bierman voiced his understanding that requests for FTE's have already received support and a certain level of clearance before reaching the Budget Committee. Professor Mohrig asked what the Council would receive in the way of a budget to review. Dean Shearer replied that he would submit a draft budget and keep the Council up to date on its progress, and noted that people are always welcome to contact him with questions and concerns about the budget.

Interest House Task Force


Dean Mark Govoni reported that he had drafted a lengthy report describing the context of the issue, including Carleton history, national comparisons and a discussion of the pros and cons of the argument. He noted that the committee members are still digesting the document, and that he envisions making a recommendation within the next two weeks. The recommendations propose the creation of institutionalized African American house, latina/o house, Asian American house, and women's awareness house. Stimson House will remain as Multicultural House with some modifications. Dean Govoni highlighted the need for speedy action in order to implement such a proposal for the 1998-1999 year. Professor Mohrig asked whether Dean Govoni felt sure that there would be enough community discussion of this proposal. Dean Govoni stated his belief that broad community discussion was not necessary as the recommendation has been the product of representative bodies and has received considerable input throughout its conception. Staff person Doug Foxgrover asked whether an upcoming speaker might be a useful resource in the discussion on interest houses. Dean Govoni commented that it is likely that the progress of the proposal has advanced beyond the point where general discussion is as useful as concrete decisions, but that he will keep the speaker in mind.

Professor Titus asked who would be responsible for the ultimate decision. President Lewis responded that since the details of student housing are handled by the Office of Residential Life, there isn't a protocol for this sort of decision, and that it will be made through discussions involving several government bodies, advisors, the Dean of Students Office and himself.

Dining Update


Dean Govoni reported that the College would hold an open public meeting on campus, Monday, January 19 to discuss progress of the new dining hall. He commented that the estimated project cost has risen from $3.7 million to over $4 million. Dean Govoni also noted that the idea of one central dining hall for the entire campus has been abandoned, and that the dining hall should be completed by the Winter term of 2000. He also reported on plans to renovate the Sayles-Hill snack bar, and progress to a new one-card food system. Student Kelly Knutsen expressed concern over congestion in dining halls during the interim between the closing of the Goodhue dining hall and the opening of the new dining hall. Dean Govoni noted that the intent is to change the nature of the snack bar, or to extend dining hours in the dining halls. Professor Chico Zimmerman asked whether consideration had been given to other potential future building projects during the discussion of siting. Dean Govoni commented that due to the limited area open to development on campus, some other long-term construction plans have been affected by the dining hall project.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:07 p.m.


M E M O R A N D U M


TO: College Council

FROM: C. F. Shearer Dean for Budget and Planning

DATE: January 26, 1998

SUBJECT: Statement re: ODC

The Organizing for Diversity Committee is scheduled to complete its assignment this Friday, January 30. Thus, copies of the report are not available. However, I have heavily borrowed from the current draft for the next College Council meeting.

The Charge:

In the Fall of 1997 President Lewis charged Dean Clement Shearer to organize a committee of faculty, students and staff to study how the College should organize its multicultural affairs functions and report by the end of the term, if possible, with a recommended organizational structure. The challenge was not to solve any particular problem, real or perceived, but to suggest a structure that would assist the campus in meeting the challenges, expected and unexpected, that arise on culturally diverse college campuses.

This was not the first review or consideration of the office responsible for students of color. Indeed, the College's first formal support programs for minority students date back to the mid-1960s. Concerns related to the success and College support of students of color prompted the current study and related reviews.1 The resignation of the Associate Dean of Students and Advisor to the President on Multicultural Affairs, who oversaw the office of multicultural affairs, also presented the opportunity to review the College's programs.

(Footnote references are listed at the end of this document.)

The history of minority students at Carleton commonly begins in 1964 with two grants from the Rockefeller Foundation to support minority students. At that time there were four minority students at Carleton. The grants provided financial aid for minority students. By 1973, when the last of the Rockefeller students were seniors there were 169 minority students. In the initial years of the program the College had a position of "equal treatment" for all students and provided few administrative or social support systems. In 1967, black students formed a Negro Affairs Committee (NAC). White students subsequently responded to NAC appeals for establishing a multiracial campus by forming a supportive WAC, the White Action Committee. These committees were instrumental in unveiling a gulf between black and white students that existed on campus.

A Little History:

In 1968, the College formed the Office of Black Activities to respond to the widespread concerns about poor retention rates for minority students and a campus atmosphere of racial estrangement. The office was changed to the Office of Minority Affairs in 1972. However, as noted by a 1984 Minority Affairs review, "since that time, there has been a persistent trend towards centralizing matters concerning the minority community in that office." Recognizing the limits posed by this trend, the FAC in 1984 agreed to establish a Committee on Third World Affairs, charged with "the advocacy of campus-wide programs that maintain and strengthen Carleton's cultural diversity." In 1988, the Office of Multicultural Affairs launched several initiatives -- a mentor program pairing Carleton students and elementary school children, an eighth grade summer program, Carleton undergraduate research programs, expansion of the peer counseling program, and a program to improve retention of first-generation, low-income students. And, there was emphasis on securing faculty, student, and staff involvement in defining and conducting the programs. These efforts paid off in improved retention as well as broader acceptance of a diverse campus.

Notwithstanding various programs and several incarnations of supportive committees, it is this committee's belief that the trend towards centralization of responsibility in a single office has continued and presents a serious challenge to the further success of the office and the students it serves.

The Basis for a "Multicultural Office"

A fundamental purpose of Carleton College is to provide the highest quality education to talented students and "liberate individuals from the constraints imposed by ignorance or complacency and equip them broadly to lead rewarding, creative and useful lives." Clearly, the initial tact of "equal treatment" worked against the College's basic ends by allowing an artificially difficult learning environment to persist. To the extent that there may be both broad and subtle differences among our students that can affect their ability to look at the world, to discover truth for themselves and to shed the constraints of ignorance or complacency, the challenge for the College is to find ways to assist all of its students in using all of their talents and the College's resources in support of their education. This may mean that the College will establish particular programs or take extraordinary steps to ensure that all students can succeed up to their abilities. When properly conceived and conducted, an office serving students of color, or race-based housing, is not destructive of campus community or irrationally isolationist, but a logical and necessary accommodation to help individual students learn and succeed, in a manner no different from the attention a good teacher pays to the particular needs of her or his students.

The committee has found that there are several such barriers that make it more difficult for some students of color than for majority students to enjoy the resources and contend with the challenges of Carleton.

Principal Findings

The College and its students of color generally are doing well -- most graduate and many maintain solid academic records; they participate in all levels and manner of student government and organizations, and many have achieved professional and personal success after Carleton. Yet, this level of success has not been as great as it should have been. And, both current students and alumni from classes extending as far back as the initial years of the Rockefeller grant have recounted how stressful it can be on a small residential campus without a place, both a physical and an emotional place, to go for relaxation, support and sense of the familiar. If their population were higher, students of color could likely create some of these spaces on their own. Lacking the support in numbers, students and the College have attempted to create programs to build networks, fashion appropriate ways to blow off steam, and establish beneficial intellectual and cultural links to something familiar. To a significant measure these efforts have succeeded in building the student of color graduation rates2. Nevertheless, the sense of Carleton as an academically strong place with a difficult environment for students of color has persisted throughout its history of greater diversity.

Barriers to Success

  1. Student-to-student networking. 2. Student-to-faculty networking 3. A supportive environment To combat a sense of isolation, students spend inordinate time organizing cultural and social events for themselves, and often the general campus. This time commitment draws energy from their studies and broader participation in the life of the campus.

There are not sufficient places to simply hang out or relax with friends and away from the tensions of campus life.
  • With few exceptions, there is not a sense that the staff knows te students.
  • Too often classroom discussions regarding race are difficult.

Thus, there is a persistent feeling that the campus is an uncomfortable place, not because of the tension of discussing race but because there are not sufficient comfort zones on campus.

The Importance of Place

A comfort zone is important to feeling rooted in the college and having the proper frame of mind for success. Arguably, the perception that one is doing reasonably well academically -- having found a subject about which one is passionate and displaying a growing competence about -- is a principal sign of success and condition for fitting in. Finding an intellectual place is probably critical to feeling a part of the college. Second, establishing a coterie of friends and confidants is another possible requirement for success -- the pace and rigors of the campus are too severe to go it alone and have the emotional resources to do as well academically as one might. And, third, a physical space that is at least close to one's own cultural context can be very important to many individuals in carving out a refuge from which they can re-emerge onto the campus and classroom feeling restored. Without finding this comfort zone it is unlikely that a student will feel that she or he is forever a part of Carleton. Alumni of color, throughout the decades, have attested to the importance to their personal success of a space to retreat, collect oneself and from which to return to the fray of the campus. They sincerely believe that they could not have survived Carleton without finding intellectual, emotional and, in some cases, physical space.

Recommendations

  1. Reestablish a multicultural affairs office, but with a narrow mission
  2. Use other offices more to support the success of students of color
  3. Establish an academic liaison, possibly modeled after the LTC, with a senior member of the faculty
  4. The multicultural affairs office should
    1. focus on student success
    2. assist students in availing themselves of College services and co-curricular and extra-curricular programs
    3. help plan/fund events to promote campus-wide understanding of different cultures
    4. assist in creating a healthy campus climate
    5. above all, be there for students -- personable, caring, accessible
CFS/jh

College Council Meeting Notice Tuesday, February 10, 1998 Sayles-Hill 251 4:15 p.m.

Agenda


  1. Approval of Minutes
  2. President's Report Stephen Lewis
  3. Calendar Discussion Elizabeth McKinsey
  4. Report on Organizing for Diversity Committee Clem Shearer
  5. Update on 1998-1999 Operating Budget Clem Shearer
  6. Interest House Task Force Report Mark Govoni


1. These initiatives include increasing the recruitment of African-American students through enhancement of National Achievement awards; improving the coordination among relevant offices to identify students at academic risk and designing individual strategies to ensure success; the systemic review of major divisions of the College to ensure that they are in sync regarding multicultural issues and programs; exploration of whether to create more interest houses along the lines of race and ethnicity; a campus climate assessment; and an interim staffing plan for the Office of Multicultural Affairs as well as the Organizing for Diversity Committee.

2. The average graduation rate for black students fell to under 60 percent for the period of greatest new student enrollments (classes of 1974 through 1979), as well as for the following five-year period. Since then, the average graduation rates have risen considerably, approaching 80 percent for the five-year period ending with the class of 1994.