An Open Letter to the Trustees of Williams

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We are the Coalition Against Racist Education Now (CARE Now), an active and growing collective of student activists born out of resistance to the 2018 faculty petition on free speech. We garnered over 300 student and alumni signatures in protest of predatory and hate speech. We organized a 200-strong March for the Damned on February 25th after the departures of Professors Kai Green and Kimberly Love due to the violent practices of the College.

We hold the truth of discursive and institutional violence to be self-evident. This year alone, there has been a mass exodus of faculty of color. Many junior faculty of color are considering medical leave due to the unmitigating stress of living in an unsupportive and callous environment; staff are similarly under supported by the institution with a lack of growth opportunities or access to basic living necessities; and too many students are admitted to the Jones 2 Psychiatric Ward each year.

Dozens of faculty of color leave campus each weekend to avoid the emotional detriment of existing here at the College. The College has proven incompetent in fulfilling its fundamental mission “to provide the finest possible liberal arts education” by failing to support those responsible for educating, mentoring, and supporting students. College administrators have sat on a ‘Faculty-Staff Initiative Report’ from the last mass exodus of faculty of color in 2009, and yet the administration has not adequately addressed the findings of this report over the past decade:

“We understand that improving the professional quality of life for staff and faculty of color, and thus the institutional culture at large, would only improve the experience of Williams students. We have witnessed how departures of staff and faculty of color or their absence in particular fields/sectors impact negatively upon the lives of students—both students of color and white students who turn to staff and faculty members of color for curricular and/or extracurricular support. This negative impact ranges from the disruption/suspension of research projects to an increased sense of isolation. We, therefore, hold that a sizable and long-term community of staff and faculty of color is vital to the studies and lives of students across the College” (Faculty-Staff Initiative, 2009).

We remind the Trustees of their obligation to the well-being and safety of its students, faculty, and staff. The present moment demonstrates a managerial and fiduciary failure to provide a safe, respectful, and livable school community. The Trustees must respond thoroughly and with haste to this failure with tangible, monetary investment.

Therefore, we compel the Trustees to accomplish the following:

1. Commit to a complete process of reparation and reconciliation to Indigenous peoples including the increased hiring and admittance of Indigenous faculty, staff, and students as well as the reallocation of property back to Nations impacted by the College’s ongoing settler occupation.

2. Approve the pending request for $34,000 additional funding to the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity in full for the purpose of supporting student-led Heritage Month events, as well as the increase of $15,000 additional funding for incoming Minority Coalition groups.

a. Establish mechanisms that increase funding to OIDE biennially in direct proportion to the growing number of minoritized bodies on this campus.

3. Improve community spaces and establish affinity housing for Black, queer, and all other minoritized students.

4. Create permanent and unmitigated networks of support for faculty of color, including, but not limited to:

a. Community space for faculty of color and additional housing resources.

b. Free weekend faculty-staff shuttles to New York and Boston.

c. Benefits for single and/or queer faculty like those offered to heteronormative, nuclear family units.

d. An external, third party tenure review process and a formal defense in the appeals process for tenure candidates.

e. More robust grievance process beyond the OIDE with stronger support for faculty.

5. Immediately approve and fund the two requested hiring lines for Asian American Studies. Additionally, immediately use opportunity hires to fill critical gaps left by departing faculty of color.

a. Expand Ethnic Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies through the hiring of new open-rank faculty and the establishment of new fellowships.

b. Hire specialized open-rank faculty by the 2020-2021 academic year to teach courses in Indigenous Studies, Trans* Studies, Disability Studies, and Fat Studies under the umbrella of INTR.

c. Hire open-rank faculty in Africana Studies and Latinx Studies, including an Africanist.

d. Expand Bolin Fellowship to 4 positions each year, with at least one under INTR.

6. Recognize that the Davis Center is currently operating with only two full-time underpaid and overworked staff members. As such, immediately hire sufficient staff members to ensure the efficient operation of the Davis Center.

7. Hire additional therapists, with a focus on trans therapists and therapists of color.

a. Introduce trauma-informed survivor support training for IWS therapists (see Stonewall Center).

8. Increase hiring and pay for staff at the Office of Accessible Education and streamline support for students, staff, and faculty who take medical leave and/or time off.

a. Increased admission and hiring of students, staff, and faculty with diverse abilities. Peer universities, like UC Berkeley, are recognizing the value and importance of having nonverbal, neurodiverse, deaf, blind, and other crip students in the classroom.

b. Ensure all college buildings are in compliance with ADA guidelines within 5 years.

9. Fund a thorough external independent investigation into the practices and interactions CSS has with students, namely minority students.

a. Such an investigation should be accompanied by mandatory Anti-bias training and Suicide prevention training for all officers.

10. Increase pay to a living wage and eliminate pay inequality for staff in Dining Services and Facilities.

11. Hire an independent advocate specialized in survivor support, effectively removing the no-contact order (NCOs) investigation responsibilities from Dean Marlene Sandstrom.

12. Hire three more Title IX coordinators who will meet the demonstrated needs of survivors.