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The new Inclusion, Diversity , Equity, and Leadership Committee

The Diversity Equity and Inclusion Council formally known as D.E.I. has been dissolved after a decision made by Deborah Thatcher, UCC president. According to Thatcher, the 2019 evaluation of governance concluded that the D.E.I. council needed to be more than an advisory group. That is what led to replacing it with a new action based committee of the president’s office called the Inclusion Diversity Equity and Leadership Committee, also known as I.D.E.A.L.

     In the beginning of January, an e-mail was sent out to staff and ASUCC members inviting them to apply to I.D.E.A.L. The application process ended Jan. 17. Applicants were to apply by e-mail with a brief statement indicating interest, what they could bring to the committee and what they could learn from being on the committee. The former members of the D.E.I. council were not automatically transferred into the new committee, raising some concerns about inclusivity.

    The former D.E.I. council had been working on implementing programs in accordance with House Bill 2864 and the Equity Lens. The House Bill 2864 requires cultural competency training for universities and community colleges. According to the House Bill 2864, “Cultural Competency means an understanding of how institutions and individuals can respond respectfully and effectively to people from all cultures, economic statuses, language backgrounds, races, ethnic background, disabilities, religions, genders, gender identifications, sexual orientation, veteran statuses, and other characteristics in a manner that recognizes, affirms and values the worth, and preserves the dignity of individuals, families and communities.”

    Thatcher stated, “The I.D.E.A.L. Committee must have broad representation from faculty, staff, students, and administration. It’s important to include voices from all these groups. The members of the D.E.I. Council were encouraged to apply to be members of I.D.E.A.L.; I did not want to simply rename the D.E.I. Council to be the I.D.E.A.L. Committee because it’s important that members understand and embrace the differences in the charge of the committees.” Thatcher goes on to say that the committee will report to her and will advise senior leadership on policies, procedures and plans. “What we need is a group that not only advises but takes action, a group that develops a plan and helps implement the plan,” Thatcher said. 

   This broad representation was mandated by HB 2864 which dictated that the college’s processes established under this subsection must “include a broad range of institutional perspectives; Give equal weight to the perspectives of administrators, faculty members, staff and students.”

    The Oregon Equity Lens was adopted by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, HECC, in 2014. The Oregon Equity Lens focuses on identifying disparities in education in regards to race and ethnicity by identifying systemic gaps and other disparities for communities of color, immigrants, migrants and rural students navigating poverty. HECC can then create action, intervention and investment to help those students so they can achieve a successful higher education learning environment.

     On December 11, 2019, Thatcher and April Hamlin, dean of Student Services,  submitted UCC’s compliance progress to the UCC Board of Education. This report stated that the needs for HB 2864 were adequately met by the D.E.I. Council and also listed UCC’s training and development opportunities in response to HB 2864. All full-time and part-time faculty on an annual basis are being required to complete SafeColleges training such as Transgender Awareness, Diversity Awareness, Implicit Bias and Microagression Awareness training. New employees are required to watch and discuss bystander awareness training called “O.U.C.H. That Stereotype Hurts.” Additionally, annual training for Anti-Oppression, Cultural Competency, Safe Space, Trauma-Informed Services, Working with Students with Accommodations, and Equity Lens training have also been provided.

     The progress report also stated that Alyssa Harter, Associate Humanities professor, has plans to “develop and co-facilitate six to seven workshop series throughout the year including Identity and Empathy, Race and Ethnicity, Social Economic Status, Sex and Gender, LGBTQ, Ability and Disability, and Body Image; these workshops will be intended for a student audience, but any UCC staff and/or community member may participate.”

     According to Thatcher, “The I.D.E.A.L. Committee will have a first meeting in February. April Hamlin, dean of Student Services, who also serves as UCC’s Diversity Officer, will play a central role in I.D.E.A.L.’s work.” She also said, “The committee will report to me, as president, to signify the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity in all that we do at UCC. My role will be a supportive one, though at times I will ask that the committee work on certain matters, either to address a particular need of the campus or to comply with legislation.”

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