Allyson Noenickx, Chief News Editor
On March 27, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president issued a letter to the campus community addressing the campus climate. The letter followed up on his original Sept. 23, 2016 letter in which he urged specific departments, campus offices, and personnel to work together with students, faculty, and staff on numerous initiatives to transform our collective campus culture. Fr. Boroughs provided updates on specific programs and processes that have been undertaken over these last few months to address these issues.
“There is a concerted effort here to address significant issues and transform our culture,” said Fr. Boroughs in his response which comes nearly six months after his original letter. “Obviously, processes are multi-faceted and outcomes take time and generosity of spirit from all involved. Bringing about change––of mind, hearts and actions––is not easy, particularly with a campus community which experiences a turnover of one quarter of its student body each year, but we are committed to this goal.”
The response letter was accompanied by a document outlining concrete programs and processes that are currently underway. In the document Fr. Boroughs outlined six initiatives and evidence of their progress throughout the last few months. These six initiatives included creating opportunities in residence halls for students to engage in dialogue and conversation on issues of social justice, inclusivity, and living in community; inventorying the annual diversity and inclusion trainings offered to faculty, staff, and students; reviewing multicultural awareness in programs for incoming students and students participating in service opportunities; broadening student access to the administration by having members of the Cabinet available periodically in Kimball and Cool Beans; providing opportunities to discuss areas of concern with broader audiences; and publicizing the work of the Title IX office to educate the community regarding the rights and responsibilities of all members of the campus.
Fr. Boroughs explained how over the last several months departments across campus have instituted changes aimed at furthering these initiatives. The Office of Residence Life and Housing modified their programming model to focus on one-on-one conversations between Resident Assistants and each resident in order to facilitate dialogue. Furthermore, the Offices of Diversity and Inclusion and Multicultural Education collaborated to review trainings and programs offered in the 2015-16 academic year. This review revealed that diversity and inclusion training should be enhanced for faculty and staff as well as for first year students. Additionally, the Office of College Chaplains instituted additional training sessions and retreats for student leaders in programs like Students for Urban Development (SPUD) and Spring Break Immersion Program (SBIP).
Fr. Boroughs also addressed ways in which faculty have been incorporating questions of social justice, diversity, and inclusion in the classroom––a request which was made by Dean Margaret Freije in the September letter. There have been conversations on how to incorporate these issues specifically into Montserrat classrooms; on consideration by the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of a potential Social Justice minor; and on training for new faculty this semester provided by Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Amit Taneja.
The complete list of ongoing programs and processes is available on the Holy Cross website and will be updated periodically with further developments. “Conversations, opportunities for dialogue, expectations, and educational programs need to be repeated each year and our intent is to provide these continuously and consistently,” said Fr. Boroughs.
Fr. Boroughs will continue to welcome suggestions and recommendations on how we can best move forward on our shared commitment to an inclusive and welcoming campus community. All are encouraged to direct their thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.