From Harm & Injustice to Restoration & Solidarity

Roadmap for Addressing Systemic Racism & Racial Injustice at Allegheny College

Preface

We acknowledge that the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others alongside racial violence against other Black and Indigenous people and People of Color (BIPOC) are examples of anti-Blackness, systemic racism, Eurocentrism, and White supremacy that are deeply ingrained in the fabric of the United States from its founding.

We recognize the role of higher education and Allegheny College in sustaining these systems, unintentionally or not. We recognize that even unintentional actions and inaction can have a detrimental impact on minoritized and marginalized communities. We assert responsibility for disrupting and dismantling systems of privilege and oppression, in particular systemic racism and racial injustice.

We affirm the inherent worth, humanity, and dignity of all BIPOC, within the Allegheny community and beyond. The plan of action described below explicitly demonstrates Allegheny College’s unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. One of the most direct ways in which Allegheny College can disrupt and dismantle systems of privilege and oppression is through sustained change within the Allegheny community itself.

We humbly ask for grace and patience. We are imperfect and will make mistakes. We are constantly learning and sincerely striving to do better. This will be a collaborative process that requires us all to be vulnerable, honest, and transparent. This process will not be comfortable. We ask that every member of our community lean into the discomfort, and work alongside us as we learn and act to affect sustained change.

Of critical importance, we recognize that the onus for educating White people about the effects of systemic racism and racial injustice on the lives of BIPOC does not fall on BIPOC, but on those who benefit from the privileges that these systems perpetuate.

The Roadmap for Addressing Systemic Racism & Racial Injustice at Allegheny College is one piece of a robust, ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda. Accordingly, the goals and action steps presented in this plan are organized to coincide with the Allegheny College Inclusive Excellence Framework. This plan outlines the immediate actions that the College is committed to taking to address systemic racism and racial injustice at Allegheny College. This work is ongoing. Periodic updates, progress reports, and additional goals and action steps of the Roadmap for Addressing Systemic Racism & Racial Injustice at Allegheny College will be provided on the College’s website. Additionally, the Council on Diversity and Equity, a committee with the essential functions of advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Allegheny College, and the Board of Trustees will be provided with periodic updates on the status of these initiatives.

Sincerely,
The Allegheny College Senior Leadership Team


Executive Summary

Allegheny College acknowledges that systemic racism and racial injustice are ingrained in the fabric of our nation and we recognize the role of higher education in sustaining these systems, unintentionally or not. As such, we assume responsibility for disrupting and dismantling systems of privilege and oppression and affirm the inherent worth, humanity, and dignity of all Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), within the Allegheny community and beyond. This plan of action is careful and deliberate, not written in haste, but as part of an ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda to realize sustained change in the Allegheny community.

The action plan is a roadmap for the College to address systemic racism and racial injustice around a framework of diversity, equity, and inclusion that includes these four pillars: 1) access & success, 2) climate and intergroup relations, 3) education and scholarship, and 4) institutional viability and vitality. Immediate and ongoing goals and action steps for each of these pillars are:

Access & Success – recruit, retain, and advance a diverse campus community of students and employees, with particular attention to sustained access and success of BIPOC faculty, with these actions:

  • Faculty Cohort Hiring Program launched fall 2019;
  • Diversity Teaching Fellowship launched spring 2019;
  • Inclusive Faculty Recruitment and Search Process changes launched fall 2018.

Climate & Intergroup Relations – create opportunities for increasing sense of belonging and community building and encourage and support critical self-knowledge for all community members, with special attention to racial healing, with these actions:

  • Campus Climate Survey taken in spring 2018 and 2019;
  • Community Building Circles for Employees planned for fall 2020;
  • Dialogues on Racial Healing for students in summer 2020 and employees in fall 2020.

Education & Scholarship – fully integrate themes of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice into the curriculum, with a particular focus on systemic racism and racial injustice, with these actions:

  • Diversity Audit of Academic Curriculum launched in summer 2020 through 2022;
  • Diversity Audit of Co-Curricular Programs planned for 2020-2021.

Institutional Viability & Vitality – build and strengthen the Allegheny community’s capacity to understand and address issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice, with a focus on race and racism, with these actions:

  • Trauma-Informed Approach Education for Institutional Leadership training in 2020-2021;
  • Diversity Competence Training for All Employees scheduled to begin fall 2020;
  • Inclusive Teaching Training for Faculty started in spring 2020.

These are immediate actions that the College is committed to taking, but the work to address systemic racism and racial injustice is ongoing and is part of a larger framework of inclusive excellence. We may make mistakes along the way, but we will constantly learn and strive to improve. We need every member of our community to join us in working together as we learn and act to affect sustained change.


Guiding Principles

The Roadmap for Addressing Systemic Racism & Racial Injustice at Allegheny College was developed with two guiding principles in mind.

1. Restorative Practices
To understand each other and experience mutual and deep relationships, we must truly and deeply hear each other’s stories.1 We must speak our truth and the harm we have experienced, acknowledge harm and take responsibility for the harm our actions have caused, and work toward repairing and restoring relationships to the degree possible.

2. Trauma Informed Approach
Systemic racism and racial injustice are often a source of trauma for minorities and marginalized communities. Being aware of and responding to trauma is critical.2 We recognize the range of experiences through which individuals come to this work, and we approach this work with empathy and care.


Four Pillars

Pillar One:
Access & Success

Goal:

Recruit, retain, and advance a diverse campus community of students and employees, with particular attention to sustained access and success of BIPOC faculty.


The College has implemented several mechanisms focused directly on the recruitment and retention of faculty from historically underrepresented backgrounds in higher education with particular attention to BIPOC faculty. A few of these initiatives are described below.


Faculty Cohort Hiring Program

Allegheny College prepares its graduates to excel as citizens of a diverse, interconnected world. Upholding this section of our mission requires that our students engage with diverse perspectives, people, and places. The Faculty Cohort Hiring Initiative was designed to promote student learning and engagement with a range of ideas and individuals.

We celebrate the tremendous growth in student diversity the College has experienced over the past decade and recognize that the faculty does not currently reflect the same level of diversity present in our student body. We understand that recruiting and retaining diverse faculty are critical to our students’ overall growth and success.

The Faculty Cohort Hiring Initiative demonstrates Allegheny’s continued commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice through active recruitment of teacher-scholars from historically underrepresented backgrounds and a purposeful effort to diversify the curriculum. The primary goals and objectives of the Faculty Cohort Hiring Initiative are to: 1) increase representation of faculty from historically underrepresented backgrounds in higher education, 2) enrich and diversify curriculum, pedagogy, and scholarship, and 3) foster interdisciplinarity, collaboration, and innovation.

As an institution, we are committed to intentional mentorship and professional development opportunities for BIPOC faculty in this program based on best practices for the retention, professional growth, and wellbeing of BIPOC faculty. Faculty in the cohort program are provided scaffolded mentorship from within their home department and across the College as well as external mentoring, including a membership to the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity.

Timeline: The 2019-2020 hiring cycle for the Faculty Cohort Hiring Initiative included filling tenure-track positions in English, Psychology, Religious Studies, and Spanish. Candidates with expertise in race, gender, and/or social justice and able to contribute courses in interdisciplinary programs such as: Black Studies, Community & Justice Studies, Education Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies received special consideration. The 2020-2021 hiring cycle will also include tenure-track positions eligible for the Faculty Cohort Initiative.

Target Completion Date: Ongoing


Diversity Teaching Fellowship

The Diversity Teaching Fellowship Program is another component of Allegheny College’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Specifically, the program serves as a professional development opportunity for early career scholars of color seeking faculty positions at liberal arts colleges and universities. While an important goal at Allegheny is to increase the diversity of tenure-track faculty, there are some faculty positions that are not tenure-track (e.g., 1-2 year replacements for sabbaticals or other leaves). The Diversity Teaching Fellowship program is designed so that these positions build opportunity as described above while promoting student learning and engagement with a range of ideas and individuals. It is expected that candidates have their Ph.D. at the time of appointment (with no more than six years beyond the Ph.D.); ABD candidates with strong qualifications are considered.

Fellows have the title of “Visiting Assistant Professor” and receive a competitive salary with benefits and support for relocation, research and scholarship, and conference travel. Fellows have faculty status at the College with a reduced teaching load, office space, and library support. During the two-year fellowship, fellows are provided with teaching and research mentors in support of their professional development and also receive a membership to the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity. The fellowship is not renewable beyond the second year.

Timeline: During the 2019-2020 academic year, the Department of History hosted a diversity teaching fellow. Following their initial year at Allegheny, the fellow accepted a tenure-track faculty position at St. John’s University and will be starting there in Fall 2020 in lieu of completing the second year of the fellowship. The Department of Modern & Classical Languages will be hosting a diversity teaching fellow in French for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years.
Target Completion Date: Ongoing


Inclusive Faculty Recruitment and Search Process

Allegheny has made four noteworthy changes to its faculty recruitment and search process based on best practices for recruiting and hiring faculty of color.3

1. Recognizing that the language used in job descriptions and advertisements has the potential to communicate valuable information about the College’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and cues of belongness, all faculty job descriptions have been modified to explicitly communicate this commitment. This language signals to potential candidates not only the College’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, but also expectations around these issues for individuals employed by the College.

2. All applicants for faculty positions are required to write a diversity statement discussing their capacity to contribute to institutional diversity. Diversity statements are evaluated as a central piece of a candidate’s application materials, similar to a teaching or research statement. In addition to allowing search committee members to assess a candidate’s ability to contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Allegheny, requesting a diversity statement conveys the College’s commitment to the issues.

3. All faculty search committees work with the Dean for Institutional Diversity to develop a recruitment plan tailored to yield the most diverse applicant pool possible for their search. To this end, the College has invested in programs, databases, and job boards that cater to candidates of color explicitly.

4. All faculty search committees undergo training to ensure an equitable and effective search process which include information on group dynamics and decision making, implicit bias, and creating equitable evaluation criteria for all applicants.

Timeline: This initiative was implemented during the 2018-2019 AY and will continue as a permanent feature of the faculty requirement and search process.
Target Completion Date: Ongoing

Pillar Two:
Climate & Intergroup Relations

Goal:

Create opportunities for increasing sense of belonging and community building and encourage and support critical self-knowledge for all community members, with special attention to racial healing.


In this context, critical self-knowledge can be defined as an awareness and understanding of one’s own multiple and intersecting social identities, where those identities are located in societal hierarchies, and one’s role in systems sustaining systems of privilege and oppression.4 Racial healing is a multi-step process that requires various strategies–education around race and racism, understanding one’s racial identity, (re)learning the history of racism, raising race-consciousness, developing as an ally.5

Allegheny College recently participated in the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey. Results for the 2018 survey revealed concerns about a perceived sense of belonging and community on campus for both students and employees. Addressing these concerns requires an investment in trust-building throughout the campus community. By building trust, the campus community will be better equipped to tackle difficult conversations about diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. This open dialogue is essential to creating a sense of belonging for all community members. A first step in this process is meaningful engagement in diversity competence training and professional development, which is discussed in greater detail in the goal and action steps for Pillar Four: Institutional Viability & Vitality.


Community Building Circles for Employees

These groups will serve as a foundation for increasing community and a sense of belonging among all members of the Allegheny community by creating an avenue for building and maintaining connections among employees within a division, department, or unit. Building community among employees is essential to creating/sustaining the positive and collaborative relationships necessary to effectively and fully support BIPOC students and employees.

Timeline: Circles were originally planned to begin in Spring 2020 but were postponed due to COVID-19. Circles will begin during the Fall 2020 semester.
Target Completion Date: Ongoing


Dialogues on Racial Healing

These dialogues will be facilitated by an external party to encourage the greatest amount of honesty and transparency among participants and to allow members of the community, regardless of their role at the College, to participate without the responsibility of serving as facilitators. Community members will be invited to engage in deep dialogue about the impact that race has had on their experience and on their interactions within the campus community. This will include an open invitation for community members to share and process their feelings about existing racial tensions.

Timeline: Virtual sessions for students will begin in Summer 2020. Sessions for employees will begin during the Fall 2020 semester.
Target Completion Date: Ongoing

Pillar Three:
Education & Scholarship

Goal:

Fully integrate diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice into the curriculum, with a particular focus on systemic racism and racial injustice.



Diversity Audit of Academic Curriculum

This action step aims to expand ongoing initiatives to diversify the curriculum, including the adoption of the Power, Privilege, and Difference; Intercultural and International Perspectives; and Civic Learning distribution requirements in Fall 2014 and the creation of the new interdisciplinary program and major in Community & Justice Studies. All academic departments and programs will undergo a thorough review of their goals and learning outcomes to ensure that issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice are incorporated throughout core course offerings in each academic major and minor.

Timeline: All academic departments and programs will begin completing comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion audits of their majors and minors; the goal is for completion of the audits by July 2022 and then for comprehensive audits to be conducted every three years as part of the regular department and program review process. Faculty will also be required to complete a diversity audit of each of their courses which will include a detailed assessment of course content, pedagogy, and evaluation for inclusivity. (See Pillar Four for timeline.)
Target Completion Date: Ongoing


Diversity Audit of Co-Curricular Programs

Co-Curricular programs are a critical part of the student experience. Programs and events that take place in residence halls, the Gateway, athletic fields, and dining halls invest students in Allegheny and create a sense of belonging that contributes to retention and ultimately graduation. While there are many programs and events happening on campus, we do not currently have a centralized method of collecting and sharing information about student education and engagement around diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice in contexts outside of the classroom. All co-curricular departments and programs (e.g., The Gateway, IDEAS Center, Residence Life, Spiritual and Religious Life, Student Leadership & Involvement, Public Safety) will conduct an audit of inclusive programs and activities with the following goals: 1) identifying common learning objectives for diversity competence across all co-curricular programs, 2) ensuring that student programming is inclusive and following best practices for access, 3) reviewing the comprehensive landscape of co-curricular offerings to make recommendations regarding strategies to address any gaps 4) creating a centralized resources and information distribution method for co-curricular programs.

Timeline: All co-curricular programs will begin completing comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion audits of their missions and programming with the goal of completing all audits by July 2021 and conducting comprehensive audits every three years.
Target Completion Date: Ongoing

Pillar Four:
Institutional Viability & Vitality

Goal:

Build and strengthen the Allegheny community’s capacity to understand issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice, with a focus on race and racism.


Immediate actions to address systemic racism and racial injustice at Allegheny in this area focus on implementing a trauma informed approach, diversity competence training and professional development for employees across the College, and inclusive teaching training for all faculty.


Trauma-Informed Approach to the Education of Institutional Leadership

Systemic racism and racial injustice often are a source of trauma for BIPOC individuals. This trauma must be recognized, named, and addressed in order to support BIPOC holistically. Institutional leadership has a heightened level of responsibility to anticipate how decisions, communications, and events could contribute to an individual’s trauma. Past trauma (institutional, national, and individual) impacts the way individuals perceive and internalize programs, events, and communications, so it is important for all levels of leadership to have a shared understanding of the current landscape of racism and racial injustice impacting the community. Institutional leaders must build their capacity to identify impactful events/statements, understand the impact the events may have on BIPOC, and work to mitigate potential future events. This training must be ongoing to continue to understand and address evolving events that highlight local and national racial injustices.

Timeline: The senior leadership team took initial steps to complete Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) Overview Training in February 2020. ACES Overview Training assists participants in understanding trauma and its effects and developing the ability to recognize trauma and apply a trauma-informed approach. The training was developed by Parkside Psychological Associates and paid for by Peace 4 Crawford and Crawford County System of Care. Peace4Crawford is a trauma-informed initiative, based in the Crawford County System of Care (SOC) Partnership, promoting social change in Crawford County, heading toward a trauma informed community. Senior Leadership will also attend the 7th Annual Trauma-Informed & Resilient Communities virtual conferences on September 21, 2020.
Target Completion Date: Ongoing


Diversity Competence Training for All Employees:

Diversity competence refers to the awareness, knowledge, and skills needed to effectively communicate, collaborate, and engage with others who are different from oneself in meaningful ways through interactions characterized by reciprocity, mutual understanding, and respect. Diversity competence is a process of learning that leads to an ability to effectively respond to the challenges and opportunities posed by interacting with individuals with various intersecting social identities from a myriad of backgrounds across multiple contexts.6 All employees will be required to participate in intensive and ongoing diversity competency training that will include modules dedicated to anti-racism and allyship. This action step is an expansion of previous diversity and inclusion training for the campus community.

Timeline: Training sessions will begin in September 2020 with the goal of all employees participating in at least two diversity competence training sessions by the end of the 2020-2021 AY.
Target Completion Date: Ongoing


Inclusive Teaching Training for Faculty:

Inclusive teaching involves cultivating awareness of the dynamics that shape classroom experiences and impact learning. It also involves being responsive to these dynamics and intentional about using strategies that foster a productive learning environment for all students.7 Inclusive teaching requires faculty members to examine their course content for themes of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice, learn and practice inclusive pedagogy, consider fairness of practices used to assess student learning, learn how to recognize and manage impact of a range of social identities on class dynamics, and build capacity to handle difficult topics and conversation in the classroom. Faculty begin the inclusive teaching training process by completing diversity audits of their courses as a baseline assessment of areas in need of the most support and enhancement.

Timeline: The first of several diversity course audit workshops was offered in May 2020 and attended by 30 faculty. Additional diversity course audit workshops will continue throughout the next academic year, with the goal of every faculty member auditing at least one of their courses by July 2021.
Target Completion Date: Ongoing


1DeWolf, T. N., & Geddes, J. (2019). The little book of racial healing: Coming to the table for truth-telling, liberation, and transformation. [go back]
2American Council on Education (2018). Speaking truth and acting with integrity: Confronting challenges of campus racial climate. [go back]
3Stewart, A. J. , & Valian, V. (2018). An inclusive academic: Achieving diversity and excellence. [go back]
4Adams, M., Bell, L.A., Goodman, D., & Joshi, K. Y. (2016). Teaching for social justice, 3rd edition. [go back]
5Singh, A. A. (2019). The racial healing handbook: Practical activities to heal you challenge privilege, confront system racism, and engage in collective healing. [go back]
6Chun, E. & Evans, A. (2016). Rethinking cultural competence in higher education: An ecological framework for student development. ASHE Higher Education Report, 42(2). [go back]
7The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University, Inclusive Teaching. [go back]