Update on Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

By Amit Taneja, Nancy Thompson

Dear Community Members:

In response to recent conversations around diversity and inclusion, we wanted to update the campus on some progress and ongoing efforts at the College.

• A Working Group on Diversity & Inclusion was established by President Stewart in the fall as an ongoing body to recommend and implement changes. This group will host two town hall meetings in the first two weeks of the spring semester. An email sent earlier this week outlined the work of this group thus far, and we anticipate significant additional progress in the spring.

• The Committee on Academic Policy (CAP) has set up a faculty subcommittee to explore diversity issues in the curriculum. This subcommittee hosted an informal meeting last week and received valuable feedback from students. This subcommittee is considering many options and will make recommendations to the faculty, which votes on all curricular matters. For more information, we encourage you to contact Professors Steve Wu, Nancy Rabinowitz, Karen Brewer and Steve Orvis. The subcommittee members will also be present at the town hall meetings hosted by the Working Group on Diversity & Inclusion.

• A small committee of administrators has been working with leaders from the Rainbow Alliance to discuss options for all-gender restrooms. A tentative plan was presented to the Student Assembly for feedback, and we anticipate changes in the near future.

• There has been a call to archive the history of the Social Justice Initiative, a student group that helped create the Days-Massolo Center. The DMC has already started an archive, including a digital archive of Womyn’s Energy Weekend posters. Anyone interested in working on archiving diversity and inclusion efforts at the College should contact me (Amit) directly.

• All new students are required to attend a two-hour diversity session which explicitly includes past incidents of bias. We will continue to update this training and help our new students understand the past, while also focusing on how to create a more inclusive campus community. 

• All new faculty members already participate in a diversity training session during new faculty orientation. This year a student panel was added to discuss diversity issues in the classroom. Additionally, for the past three years, the DMC has offered additional training for faculty members titled “Difficult Dialogues” which includes actual diversity scenarios collected from students on the Hamilton campus. More than 60 faculty members have participated in Difficult Dialogues.

• The Days-Massolo Center has hosted a variety of staff trainings with different campus constituents, including the Dean of Students Office, Campus Safety, Communications and Development and the Office of Admission and Financial Aid, to name a few. We will continue offering these trainings in the future.

• We have received and heard the call for transportation support, especially for breaks. A committee is studying cost-effective and long-term ways to provide transportation to airports, train and bus stations for breaks. In the meantime, President Stewart has agreed to subsidize our current program to make it more affordable for all students. Rates for remaining breaks this year are now as follows:

- Syracuse Hancock Airport: $25
- Albany Airport: $40
- Bus to NYC or Boston: $50
- Utica Train Station: $5

• We have created a new web-based rideshare application where students can share cabs or arrangements to travel home. Faculty and staff can also offer rides through this website. More information is available at https://my.hamilton.edu/rideshare

• The Student Emergency Aid Society (SEAS) has already assisted several students with transportation issues and continues to be a resource for students, especially for emergency travel and for those who remain on campus during breaks.

• Furthermore, for Thanksgiving break, without solicitation from students, SEAS ensured that students with financial constraints had access to meals without having to ask for such assistance. We are investigating long-term solutions, such as keeping at least one dining facility open during breaks to make this process easier for students.

• The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) strives to investigate and educate the campus community about bias issues. Dean Allen Harrison sends a message at the start of each semester reminding the campus community about BIRT, and we will create posters to publicize the committee and its work. Student representatives were added to this team based on recommendations made last semester. We will continue our commitment to a safe and hate-free campus, and will publish a record of past incidents on our website.

We are committed to working with students to create a better, stronger, safer and more inclusive Hamilton and look forward to building on the good work already begun.


Amit Taneja, Director of Diversity & Inclusion
Nancy Thompson, Dean of Students

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