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Barnard College Diversity Task Force Wants a Chief Diversity Officer, Social Justice Workshops

The Task Force on Diversity at all women’s university Barnard College has released draft recommendations for the school that include hiring a Chief Diversity Officer and social justice workshops.

In a draft proposal on “three action areas that we believe have the potential to transform the College into a more representative, inclusive and equitable campus,” the group’s first recommendation is for the school to “create a position for a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) with a campus-wide and community-focused mandate.”

An experienced CDO will prioritize and focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives and institutional continuity over time; re-conceptualize diversity and inclusion as a strength/priority; institute a leadership and accountability structure for Barnard’s diversity mission; and provide necessary expertise in managing change relative to diversity and inclusion. The CDO will lead a collaborative team comprised of staff and faculty who are already working on diversity and inclusion across the campus, along with others whose work is relevant to this aspect of the College’s mission. A newly established Diversity Council that represents all campus constituencies will serve in an advisory capacity. Creating this role signals importance of diversity and inclusion to the entire Barnard community, including students, alumnae, faculty, administrators, and staff.

The plan also calls for the university to hire ten professors from underrepresented groups by 2022. Barnard administrators claim that “diverse student bodies and diverse faculties” lead to “better learning outcomes and campus climate, [and] enhanced support for underrepresented students and faculty.”

In addition to the hiring initiative, the task force wants Barnard to hold required workshops on “inclusion and equity” for students. Organizers claim that these will “create a shared understanding of the distinctive challenges facing … historically underrepresented groups.”

“Such initiatives create a true community-wide conversation about the value of diversity and will promote a sense of community and cohesion among all members of Barnard community,” it claims.

Tom Ciccotta

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