November 2020

 

November 2020

More than a Decade of Efforts to Improve Campus Climate

In 2007, in response to racist and homophobic incidents on campus, then-President Jones and the Board of Trustees created a Committee on Campus Climate. This committee was charged with examining “campus policies and silences” that may have contributed to an atmosphere in which “acts of hostility and intolerance could occur.” This committee was designed to move beyond study to action. Late in 2007, the committee produced a report, which is available on this website, along with almost 50 recommendations to improve campus climate at Trinity College.

In the spring of 2019, more than a decade later, we surveyed campus constituents—students, faculty, and staff—about the current campus climate. The survey results showed many community strengths, but also made it clear that we are not yet the inclusive community that we wish to be. An atmosphere still exists in which acts of hostility and intolerance occur. One response to this survey was to create a new task force on campus climate in 2020 co-chaired by Dr. Anita Davis, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, and me. The charge of this 2020 task force is as follows:

To create change on Trinity’s campus and in the broader Trinity community, this task force is charged, over the next 18 months, with outlining steps that will improve Trinity’s campus climate. The activities of the task force should include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Review and comment on the action plans to reduce system racism that are being created by different constituent groups (due by the end of September 2020); determine gaps in the action plans and how to fill them
  • Define specific metrics to monitor campus climate and an infrastructure for accountability
  • Engage other governance and constituents groups to bring about needed change
  • Determine the highest priorities for improving campus climate in the short-, medium- and long-term, over the next five years
  • Create a plan to communicate our recommendations and findings to the broader community

As an exercise to mark our work over the last decade to create an inclusive community, members of the administration and members of the task force examined each of the almost 50 recommendations in the 2007 report to assess whether a particular recommendation had been completed or not. The 2007 report divided its recommendations into three broad categories: upholding community values and increasing diversity of students, faculty, and staff; creating better social and academic spaces and stronger residential and community life; and embedding values in the curriculum and closer connections with the City of Hartford. We commented on whether and how Trinity made progress over the last decade toward enacting these recommendations and creating a more inclusive community. Our budget office provided the costs of various initiatives.

You will find here (requires Trinity login credentials), in draft form, our honest assessment of work that was completed over the last decade, as well as work that remains in progress or was not completed, sometimes because the goal or target changed. What is clear is that a significant amount of work has been completed, that significant resources have been invested, and that there is still much more work to be done to create the community we wish to be. I invite you to review our progress, comment in the website comment section, and be a part of this important work that must be intentional and sustained across decades.

Sincerely,

Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor in Neuroscience