Faculty meeting addresses race
The most recent faculty meeting included a discussion between student representatives and faculty about the need to address racism among the Brandeis community.
Seven student representatives, including Christian Perry MA ’16, Maya Cooper ‘15 and Sarah Gray (Ph.D.) spoke, addressing the need for Brandeis students and faculty to participate more in discussions on concealed racism. Gray believed in the importance of discussing inequalities because they “influences how we research, talk about African-Americans, and how we discuss them and look closer in each of our own individual topics.”
The students said that racism impacts everyone, that they wanted more participation from the community, and that they desired change instead of angry discourse.
The discussion’s primary focus was to brainstorm ways for more community involvement in this discussion on racism. In response, Prof. Gordon Fellman (SOC) told the group about his idea for what he called a “Truth Telling Project.” Through the Truth Telling Project, the University of St. Louis documented its community’s stories. Fellman said that he believed Brandeis could complete a similar project where students share their own stories on police harassment.
Other ideas ranged from inviting more Posse scholars to campus to inviting the Waltham Police to campus. Professors also mentioned Civil Rights leader Julian Bond’s upcoming visit to the University in late March.
Thursday’s meeting was facilitated by provost and interim president Lisa Lynch. It began with tributes for two recently deceased University faculty members, Attila Klein (Heller) and Richard Almeroto (ENG).
Lynch then thanked Former Provost Steve Goldstein and Prof. Anita Hill (Heller) for “their support in the reorganization of the Provost office” and the faculty for their participation in online Title IX training. When acknowledging the next step—an in-person training—Lynch remarked that while there is “no training program that is perfect, the best are the ones that assess impact of the training.”
Next, Lynch urged the faculty to work on methods to increase the response rate of online surveys, stating that the last “faculty work life survey” only received a “disappointing 48% response rate.”
Lynch also announced the changes regarding reaccreditation of university standards. Brandeis will be the first university assessed by new standards, and Lynch shared plans to help the University adjust. For instance, Prof. Dan Perlman (BIOL) will form a new committee to judge teaching proposals. Lynch hopes to implement funds through this committee to “examine new styles of education, new ways to assessing student learning, using new technology to restyle classes.”
Lynch addressed the “ongoing” discussions with student representatives to converse over the University’s use of “conflict free minerals,” instead of “products produced from child labor”
Finally, Prof. Faith Smith (AAAS) shared that Vice Provost John Unsworth created a new library committee for cyber security. Smith said that Unsworth presented a brief on his concerns about “faculty’s use of commercial products like dropbox.” Smith also articulated her desire for faculty and students alike to “speak openly about our differences.”