These past few weeks, the world has been rocked with the killing by police of George Floyd in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and Tony McDale in Florida, but these are only the most recent, visible and egregious instances of the violent theft of the lives and lands of people of color and indigenous people. Millions of people have taken to the streets and supported actions to protest police brutality, white supremacy, and violence against black lives in this country. Now, it is more important than ever to look at the ways our communities are organizing and what we can do locally, nationally, and globally.
In accordance with this, the CCE would like to begin to respond to the expectations outlined by students in addition to the student action on Friday. Below are the student expectations and the action we plan to take.
1. The College should waive and cancel finals for all students, not just Black. While students are quite literally fighting for their lives, your expectation of them to continue their academic work as though things are usual, blatantly disregards their physical, mental, and emotional trauma. With Black students and others protesting, getting tear gassed and some arrested, in the backdrop of a global pandemic—schoolwork is not a priority. Especially since things are CR/NC.
• The CCE acknowledges the work of activism, healing, and survival being done by students in this time and we would like to support students to the best of our abilities. The CCE made a statement earlier lifting deadlines for assignments being done by participants and civic engagement scholars at this time. We would like to amend this statement and will be waiving the final assignments. For CESs and participants working on projects, please submit your projects and handbooks in their current form. The CCE staff will work to compile project materials and make any necessary edits to final products.
2. Release a statement in support of Black Lives Matter. Have the school discuss its history of racism (holding minstrel shows, burning Black students’ dorms, etc.) and how the school has changed, or plans on changing, systematically.
• The CCE acknowledges the importance of knowing and sharing the history of racism and anti-racism across the institution, as well as within our department. The CCE will work to compile the history to be shared with students, faculty, staff, and community partners.
• The CCE will also review our partnerships with community organizations and donors to attempt to ensure the partnerships share our values of striving for an anti-racism workplace. While in the past the CCE has chosen not to work with organizations that were known to discriminate based on race, sexual orientation, gender, or religious affiliation, and have broken ties with organizations when incidents of discrimination have been reported to us , we will make these values more transparent by having organizations sign written agreements regarding this before entering into a partnership with the CCE. The CCE will request that current partners agree in writing to promote an antiracist workplace and they understand the process for K students to report to the CCE any incidents of racism, including implicit bias, the students may encounter at their partnership site.
3. Beyond the current protests the school should be actively working to improve the experiences of Black students by MANDATING ALL professors attend ERRACE training
• Currently the CCE staff have participated in ERACCE training and we support the continued engagement with ERACCE. The CCE will also be requiring ERACCE training for Civic Engagement Scholars as they interact more extensively with participants and community partners and we know they will benefit from the training as a foundation for civic engagement and reflection.
4. Starting the next academic term and beyond, the college needs to actively promote the Bias reporting system that has been implemented by having professors let their students know at the beginning of EACH term where to find the reporting system at so both professors and students know that professors will be held accountable for their racist and/or problematic actions
• The CCE will include information on the Bias Reporting System to students during orientations, and will include information on the system in the paperwork completed by students who intend to participate in our programs, service-learning courses, and community building internships.
5. We need clear guidelines of how faculty, staff, and students will be held accountable when they discriminate against an individual based on race.
• The CCE will begin outlining clear guidelines on how faculty, students, and staff will be held accountable within the CCE for any discriminatory behavior. We will also develop and provide a bias training information sheet to our community partners and ask that they provide us with their current policies regarding reporting bias and discrimination at the community site.
In addition to addressing the concerns outlined in the student email, the CCE will continue to support student, faculty, and staff involvement in activism through funding to attend marches, protests, etc. The CCE will also set aside funding to support student and faculty research into police reform and will publicize information on how to apply for these funds. The CCE’s work on making voting accessible to all students, despite residency, will continue and be strengthened by working with a team of students who will be paid to facilitate this important work.
This is the end of the quarter, but it cannot be the end of civic engagement, movement work, anti-racism, and democracy-building. This will look different for everyone. Please think about how you can do this safely and within your capacity.
Please continue to reach out if you need any support or have any questions or concerns.
Center for Civic Engagement Staff
Here is the definition of “bias” based on the Bias Data Gathering System: https://hr.kzoo.edu/current-employees/employee-relations/formsandresources/bias-data-gathering-system/
The College’s working definition of bias for the pilot BDGS is a preconceived negative preference, inclination, or attitude about groups of people, often based on physical, cultural, religious, or social identities. The term ‘bias related’ refers to language and/or behaviors that demonstrate bias against persons because of, but not limited to, their actual or perceived identities. Examples may include defacement of posters or signs, intimidating comments or messages, vandalism to personal or university property, or similar acts, if there is evidence that the target or victim was chosen because of a characteristic such as those listed above.
Please be aware, however, that although an expression of an idea or point of view may be offensive or inflammatory to some, it is not necessarily a bias-related incident. Kalamazoo College values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas. Intellectual academic discourse often involves the expression of controversial ideas and differing views. While this value of openness protects controversial ideas, it does not protect harassment or expressions of bias or hate aimed at individuals. The pilot BDGS does not prohibit speech historically and currently protected by College policies.