College awards first TIDE grants

Nicholas Goldrosen

Eight projects have received funding from the College’s first Towards Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (TIDE) grants, a series of grants of up to $5000 to various College departments, offices, faculty, staff and students “to help facilitate the infusion of diversity, equity, and inclusion into all aspects of our campus by leveraging the creativity and passion of the members of our community,”  Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes ’98 announced in a Feb. 11 email.

The eight projects funded in this first round of grants include conferences, educational workshops, speaker series and various campus gatherings and events. Several of these events aim to center underrepresented perspectives in academic disciplines or spaces. As one example, “Alternative Art Histories: Future Directions in Latinx Art” will be a conference focusing on U.S. Latinx art to be held at the Clark, organized by Marco Antonio Flores MA ’19 and Professor of Art and Latina/o Studies C. Ondine Chavoya. Another project, “Decolonizing Your Pedagogy,” organized by Visiting Lecturer in Art Allana Clarke, will feature a series of workshops and events on developing “equitable, intersectional pedagogies within and outside of academia,” according to the project description. 

“Reclaiming the Stacks,” a program organized by Head of Research Services Christine Ménard and Director of Libraries Jonathan Miller, aims to respond to white supremacist flyers found in Sawyer Library over the summer and highlight questions of representation and equity surrounding the libraries’ collections. According to Ménard, some potential events the libraries will consider pursuing include, “readings and book discussions strategically located in the stacks in the sections targeted by the flyers,” “workshops investigating the power structure underlying the process of information creation and the organization of library collections, followed by actions (e.g. advocating for modification of Library of Congress Subject Headings, or organizing a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon)” and “commissioning student art to be installed in the library in answer to the program’s themes.”

Some of the other projects receiving funding focus on efforts that cross over into the local community. Berkshire Educator Summer Institute for Teaching Diversity and Social Justice, for example, is a professional development training on inclusive pedagogy for 40 local K-12 educators from throughout Berkshire County, organized by Director of the Davis Center Shawna Patterson-Stephens and Director of the Center for Learning in Action (CLiA) Paula Consolini. “This institute is a professional development program open to K-12 educators in the Berkshire area interested in building more inclusive and affirming classrooms through exploration, and the development of strategies and skills to effectively navigate diversity issues in regional schools,” Patterson-Stephens said. “The institute is part of a larger partnership between Berkshire regional educators and Williams College aimed at providing area youth with a learning experience that espouses inclusive excellence.  Finally, this project serves as an opportunity to build a cohort amongst faculty, who will identify ways to constructively resolve some of the issues observed within the Berkshire school system alongside our local educators.”

Other projects focus on faculty and staff development. One project, organized by Consolini, Marco Vallejos ’20, Assistant to the Director for Dining Services Sharon Marceau and CLiA Assistant Director Tracy Finnegan will coach dining services staff to attain their ServSafe manager’s certification, leading to increased promotional opportunities. Another project, the Processing Whiteness group, aims to help staff and faculty interrogate whiteness and white privilege and to be more effective allies in seeking racial justice. This project is organized by Ruby Solomon, a fellow at Integrative Wellbeing Services (IWS), Rabbi Seth Wax, the College’s Jewish chaplain and Professor of German Gail Newman.  “The ‘Processing Whiteness’ group was inspired by the idea that the next step in Williams’ efforts toward equity has to be an honest examination of our own role as white people in upholding structures of privilege and power,” Newman said. 

Solomon added, “It is not, however, meant to replace deeply listening to the experiences of people of color, believing what they tell us and continuing to learn from the scholarship and activist efforts of people of color that form the foundation of anti-racist movements.”

Others projects center around supporting students directly. One of these, the Men of Color Collective, will organize ongoing campus programming, “to help all men of color thrive at Williams.” This project, organized by Chris Sewell ’05, associate dean of the College, and Michael Grinnell, Jr., a fellow at IWS, has so far included pre-semester programming to help students plan for the semester and a community reflection space in the wake of attacks on black queer men, amongst other programming. Another grant recipient project, “Radical Care: Practices in ‘Alternative’ Healing Towards Inclusion, Diversity & Equity,” organized by Maria Noya ’21, Elsa Björnlund ’20 and Kristina Hwang ’18.5, will bring outside educators and speakers to campus for three workshops on alternative healing practices. A second round of grant funding will have applications due on March 15.