February 9, 2022

Dear Trinity College Campus Community Members,

Welcome to the new semester! As we all enjoy being back together, we write to provide an update on the important work of the Task Force on Campus Climate.

Trinity College is committed to fostering a diverse and welcoming educational community. While our past offers us much of which we can be proud, we also must acknowledge our opportunities for growth and change if we are to be the best Trinity we can be today and in the future.

We all vividly remember the summer of 2020 and the horrific video evidence of brutality and police violence against people of color that resulted in heightened levels of grassroots social justice activism across the country, including here at Trinity. Ethnic and racial violence and injustice have a long history in the United States and, despite significant advancements since the civil rights movement, much work remains to be done to address and redress their historical legacies.

In response to the urgency to address systemic racism for Trinity to become anti-racist and to embrace racial justice, as well as to fulfill the ongoing commitment in our strategic plan to foster an inclusive campus community that embraces diversity and complexity, we began a wide-ranging institutional review to assess and subsequently address racial climate issues. For example, we asked different constituent groups to develop racial justice action plans focused on their constituency. We received 18 plans from groups on campus, as well as from trustee and alumni groups, outlining work that would be undertaken. We instituted special opportunity faculty hires and implemented new staff hiring procedures to ensure that our faculty and staff better represent our mission, vision, and values. We also launched the Task Force on Campus Climate, composed of students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and parents, in fall 2020. To read more about the charge of the task force, please click here.

We are pleased to write today with an update on the considerable progress the Task Force on Campus Climate has made during the past year and a half. To date, the task force has:

  • Reviewed a range of information to inform and help frame our work, including scholarship in the areas of campus climate and racial justice and equity, data from Trinity’s campus climate survey, the Umoja Coalition’s demands, and other historical documents outlining Trinity’s prior efforts to create a more inclusive campus;
  • Met with faculty members who led prior campus climate initiatives to review their findings, to learn from their perspectives on Trinity’s progress, and to receive their critiques of past efforts;
  • Developed action plan review templates for constituent groups;
  • Provided constituent groups with feedback on their action plans and developed focus areas for an institution-wide racial justice action plan; and
  • Identified seven focus areas on which an institution-wide racial justice action plan will center and developed metrics for evaluating future progress.

We are currently drafting Trinity’s institution-wide Racial Justice Action Plan, which we plan to share with the community later this spring. Next, the task force will shift focus to consider gender equity and inclusion issues. We will begin that work this spring with a review of the reports produced by the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct (2015) and the Task Force on the Status of Women (2020). Reviewing these reports will offer an opportunity to track the progress we have already made and will provide a starting point to evaluate areas that continue to need improvement. We continue to commit to fostering an environment that ensures the safety, well-being, and dignity of all members of our community.

Thank you to the members of the Task Force on Campus Climate for their time and commitment to fostering and furthering principles of equity at Trinity College. And thank you to all the members of our community who worked diligently to develop and revise constituent-based action plans. This is a reminder that creating an inclusive community is the collective work of many. The commitment to doing this challenging work and the progress made to date instills confidence in us that, together, we will continue to build the Trinity we aspire to be.

Joanne Berger-Sweeney, President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience

Anita Davis, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion