Historical Timeline: Lake Forest College Student Equity Movement
HISTORICAL TIMELINE: LFC STUDENT EQUITY MOVEMENT
By ALICIA MAYNARD ’20
Editor’s Note: This is a snapshot of the student activism during the 2019 Spring semester. Some names have been redacted to protect the privacy of students and Staff members who actively engaged in incidences related bias that have not yet been made public.
4/2/2019: The flashpoint of the current student activism began on this date. The incident occured in the POLS 251: Family Structure & Political Theory course taught by Professor Siobhan Moroney, Associate Professor and Chair of Politics. During this class Professor Moroney read out the racial slur "N*****" [Editor’s note: This word has been altered] while reciting a passage from Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
4/4/2019: Professor Moroney discussed with her POLS 251: Family Structure & Political Theory course about their feelings over her use of this word. Several students voiced their discomfort over the use of this racial slur. Professor Moroney then voiced surprise over students’ discomfort, saying that she had done this for several years. She continued saying that sometimes it is good to feel uncomfortable. Some students advocated for the use of the word on academic grounds, but the three black students in the class felt deeply uncomfortable.
4/5/2019: Ellen Kazembe’20 raised this aforementioned incident with the Krebs Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Davis Schneiderman and the Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Andrea Conner through an email. In this email Kazembe suggested two possible amendments to the Faculty Handbook.
“A, Changes under the "Teaching regulations" in the Faculty Handbook that would require Professors to disclose that they will be using racially charged language in a course so that students can make well-informed decisions of whether they should take the course or not.
B, For Professors to be explicitly held accountable for using racial slurs in the Faculty Handbook just as much as students are explicitly held accountable in the Student Handbook.”
4/8/2019: Dean Schneiderman then replied to Ellen Kazembe ‘20 over email assuring her that Professor Moroney will forthwith put a warning in her syllabi and that her raised concerns will not detrimentally affect her grades. However, this email also states that the current “Equal Opportunity Statement” and the Bias Incident Response Process have not been violated. It instead offers a meeting between Kazembe, himself, and Dean Conner.
4/11/19: Ellen Kazembe ‘20 met with Dean Schneiderman and Dean Connor to discuss the incident and to advocate for changes in policy.
Tyree Singleton’20 joined the POLS 251: Family Structure & Political Theory course to ask Professor Moroney why she felt it necessary to vocalize this slur.
4/17/19: Kotch Mmopi ‘20 organized a meeting for Student leaders to discuss incidents of racial bias on campus.
4/18/19: Students begin drafting the LFC Demands as resolutions to the incidents of racial bias occurring on campus.
These became the LFC Student Equity Demands, and were edited and drafted by Kotch Mmopi ‘20. He then sent the following email to the student leaders including; Rodrigo Sanchez’19, Ayesha Quraishi’19, Naomi Morales’20, Taylor R. Jackson ‘20, Jordan Moran’19, Annie Keller’20, Ellen Kazembe ‘20, Zora Pullen ‘20, KeAnthony Thompson ‘19, Peter Simmeth ‘21, Che Raoul ‘20, Chris Edomwande’ 19, Nombuso Dlamini ‘20, Deja McClellan ‘20 and Guadalupe Ornelas ’19
- Students posted this letter across campus at 5:00AM
- In response to President Schutt’s email titled “Email to Campus” these same sixteen student leaders sent out a mass response at precisely 9:00 AM to all the Senior Administrators, thus expressing a unified front.
Names of Senior Administrators
Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Andrea Conner
Vice President for Enrollment, Christopher J, Ellertson
Vice President for External Enrollment and Secretary of the College, Philip Hood
Chief Information Officer,Martin Sean Riedel
Krebs Provost and Dean of Faculty, Davis Schneiderman
Vice President for Career Advancement and Athletics, Jackie Slaats
Vice President for Finance and Planning, Lori Sundberg
Editor’s note: The email below was sent to all the Senior Administrators by all the student leaders at 9:00AM with an attached file with LFC Student Student Equity Demands:
Please find the file attached.
Editor’s note: The letter below with LFC Student Equity Demands was posted around campus by student leaders
“To the Board of Trustees, the President, the Deans and Directors, and all senior administration of Lake Forest College,
We, a collection of equity-minded student leaders, stand in solidarity with the students of color at Lake Forest College, as well as those organizing similar initiatives for complete equity at educational institutions across the nation. We write to you to voice our grievance and disappointment concerning the College Administration’s reaction to what is described as follows:
“In a class session last week, as some of you may know, a text section from a novel that included an offensive, racist term was read aloud. Several students felt unprepared to encounter the offensive term, and felt insulted and injured to hear it in class.”
The email that was sent by the College’s President, Stephen Schutt, goes on to present two responses; a discussion held by The Office of Faculty Development and the reintroduction of the Intercultural Advisory Group. We find this passive response from the College to be inadequate in understanding of the core problem at hand, and as such reluctant to make an efficient and timely change that ensures that such a shameful occurrence never happens again.
The aforementioned incident highlights one of many past occurrences where the College has demonstrated a lack of initiative in addressing systematic racial and cultural issues. The student handbook prohibits and protects students from abusive language, however due to the theme of academic freedom, the faculty handbook does not include the same protection measures stating the following instead:
“The fact that speech or a particular expression is offensive is not, standing alone, a sufficient basis to establish a violation of this policy. To constitute a violation of this policy, speech or expression taking place in the teaching context must be severe or persistent, not germane to the subject matter, and must impair or impede the College’s educational mission or be used to disguise, or as a vehicle for, prohibited misconduct.”
This essentially protects and allows faculty to use derogatory terms in classrooms with the excuse of there being an educational value. However, we pose to you the following question, to what extent should students be made uncomfortable, and for who’s educational benefit? And more so, who exactly are we making uncomfortable in these classrooms?
Students of color are, and have been historically, under-represented, ignored and abused within academia. Students of color nationally have and are continuing to reclaim their space and their power at their respective educational institutions – we, the student leaders of Lake Forest College, will follow suit. The following is a list of demands, drafted by a diverse group of students, with the intention of remaining intersectional in our construction of revolutionary change.
Initial Goals & Objectives
- Protection from offensive language pertaining to race for faculty and students in the Faculty Handbook
- Growth and increased support of the Office of Intercultural Relations such as increasing staff to mirror student demand and relocating the office to a wheelchair accessible space.
- Employment of diverse faculty and administrators reflecting campus and national populations. Transparency of ongoing efforts to recruit diverse faculty and administrators and obstacles encountered.
- Ongoing and semesterly diversity training for students, faculty and staff pertaining to and reflecting contemporary systematic inequalities; including required BIAS Assessments approved by the IAG for the 2019-2020 and following academic years.
- Inclusion of students in problem solving
- College feedback and reporting on benchmarks, results, and action plans from faculty discussions and workshops, especially after campus-wide bias incidents.
- Creation of curriculum for historic and contemporary Latinx, Middle Eastern, African and Indigenous studies.
- Periodic assessments of professors ensuring professors are up-to-date with material they are teaching.
- Reassessment of campus responses and sanctions for students and faculty who commit biased incidents; including assessing the effectiveness of current educational approaches.
- Bi-weekly publication of bias incidents and resolutions while protecting the identity of those involved to increase campus awareness and accountability.
- Disclaimers for courses with sensitive content including the justification of educational value.
The demands listed above are by no means exhaustive nor final, but a set of goals to guide administrative action to address inequalities in Lake Forest College.
We request that you respond to this communiqué by Wednesday, April 24th, 2019.
Kotch Mmopi - Business Major, Computer Science & French Minors (UMOJA President, Visual Communications, OIR, First Connection Mentor, Forester First Mentor)
Rodrigo Sanchez – Chemistry Major, Psychology Minor (Latinos Unidos Co-President, Deerpath Hall Resident Assistant, Chemistry Lab Assistant, Former Intercultural Advisory Group Member, Gladen Research Lab)
Ayesha Quraishi - Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and International Relations Majors
(Senior 25, Oppenheimer Awardee, Lincoln Laureate, First Connection Coordinator, Future Health Professionals, OIR)
Naomi Morales – Economics & International Relations Majors (International Student Organization President, OIR, First Connection Mentor, Mail Room)
Taylor R. Jackson – Business & International Relations Majors (United Black Association Secretary, Net Impact Lake Forest Chapter Secretary)
Jordan Moran - Secondary Education and Math Majors (Black Men’s Group, First Connection Mentor, Men’s Basketball Captain, United Black Association, Student Ambassador)
Annie Keller – Psychology, Neuroscience, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (PRIDE Public Relations Officer, Rainbow Network Facilitator, Ambassador Vice President, Psychology Student Academic Advisory Committee, K-Lab Research Assistant, TRL Lab Research Assistant)
Ellen Kazembe – Economics & Politics Majors (Davis UWC Scholar, Stentor Editor, SWAN President)
Zora Pullen – Biology Pre-Physical Therapy Major
(Pride President, First Connection Mentor, Rainbow Network, Rugby)
KeAnthony Thompson – Studio Art Major, Digital Design Minor (United Black Association President, Studio Art SAAC Representative, First Connection Mentor, Studio Art Peer Teacher)
Peter Simmeth – Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major, Masters of Arts in Teaching Candidate (PRIDE treasurer, SAACS treasurer, Resident Assistant McClure Hall)
Che Raoul - Business Major, Philosophy Minors (Delta Chi President, SPB Director of Photography)
Chris Edomwande – Biology & History Major (Biology SAAC, Biology Peer Teacher, Barbosa Research Lab, 2018-2019 Football Captain, Phi Beta Sigma President)
Nombuso Dlamini – Economics Major, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Minor (UMOJA Vice President, Career Advancement Center Student Ambassador)
Deja McClellan – African American Studies Major, Communication Minor (United Black Association Vice President, Law and Public Service Pathway Leadership Team Member, Diversity and Inclusion Summit Committee Member, Winter Gala Committee Member, and the Leadership Awards Selection Committee Member)
Guadalupe Ornelas –Sociology and Anthropology Major (Latino Unidos Co-President, Administrative Assistant: Education, Theater, & Religion departments)”
- President Schutt responded with an email assuring the students of a fitting response.
4/22/19: The growing movement received two emails:
The first from Dean Conner proffering a meeting.
The second from the faculty at 10:47 P.M. proffering support from 22 faculty members.
4/23/19: President Schutt, Dean Schneiderman, Dean Conner, and forty-four students were present at the aforementioned meeting.
4/24/19: Deja McClellan ’20 sent the minutes of this meeting to student leaders.
4/26/19: The Stentor published an article detailing the flashpoint of the LFC Student Equity Movement. However, this article had certain inconsistencies. The first being the fact the the article referred to the student leaders as “A group of concerned students,” and did not list their positions on campus. The second being the the article states that these same leaders “created a document as a response to the situation,” rather than as a response to a series of racially biased grievances. This article can be retrived from http://stentornews.com/reevaluating-academic-freedom/.
4/29/19: President Schutt sent out an email outlining the LFC Student Equity Movement on campus and delineating the steps which Lake Forest College intends to take during the summer to ensure that such incidents no longer occur and that if they do, that there are proper channels through which they can be addressed.
Editor’s note: This email was sent by President Schutt to the campus community via email at 10:08 A.M.
“Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
This has been a difficult April. As the end of the spring semester has approached, our campus has been challenged to examine whether we are truly an inclusive community, and I believe the month has shown that we have real work to do in order to meet this challenge. I also believe we are fully capable of doing the work, and this message will convey my thoughts on some of the steps ahead.
Most of you probably know by now that the month began with a class in which a faculty member read aloud a section of text from the Civil War novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin that contained the racially offensive “N-word.” The class served to prompt a series of responses including a student's bias complaint; a letter from 16 student leaders calling on the College to meet key goals and objectives; a meeting that the Dean of Faculty, Dean of Students and I held with those student leaders and numerous other students; a faculty discussion that drove home the deep pain caused by use of racist terms; and a silent protest by more than 40 students.
The class session was a prompt, but our issues of diversity and inclusion go beyond that class. In their meeting with the deans and me, students said it's not uncommon for them to encounter racist language, international stereotypes, and cultural or religious hostility on our campus. Their accounts certainly challenged whether we are living up to the College's commitment – pronounced in our Mission Statement for more than 25 years – to "embrace cultural diversity."
The Mission Statement also rightly calls on members of our community to "solve problems in a civil manner, collectively.” No individual or single group can make our campus more genuinely inclusive. We must all work together to reach that critical goal.
With this in mind, the following paragraphs list several key actions that we need to take this summer, in preparation for the 2019-20 academic year. This is not an exhaustive list of the work that needs to be done. The student leaders’ letter calls for further steps, and faculty and staff have suggested still more. The actions listed here are timely and important, however, and will strengthen our community. Several students, faculty and staff who will be on campus this summer have offered to work on one or more of these actions. I encourage others who are interested to contact me, Davis Schneiderman, Andrea Conner, Claudia Ramirez Islas, or André Meeks. After Commencement, we will form work groups to initiate and complete these actions.
The College must improve education about diversity and inclusion for faculty and staff. Past efforts have included two large faculty-staff summits, much hard work by the Office of Intercultural Relations (OIR) and the Intercultural Advisory Group (IAG), numerous campus lectures and discussions, and still other initiatives. These have been worthy, beneficial efforts, but we need to do more. Here are two further steps: (i) the College will provide this summer, for all students, faculty, and staff, a required multi-cultural training module prepared by Everfi, a highly regarded online training firm; and (ii) our third Diversity and Inclusion Summit, and related programming in the year ahead, will be scheduled and structured to include students so they can directly share their actual campus experiences. IAG will also survey other colleges to identify new, effective training practices that go beyond online modules and summit programs.
The College must appoint more faculty and staff of color. The Faculty Diversity Recruitment Subcommittee (FDRS) has labored diligently in this regard – and our teaching faculty is much more diverse than a decade ago – but we must redouble our efforts. FDRS must both continue its work and seek new ways to make our faculty searches maximally inclusive. On the staff side, the IAG must refine and clarify our recruitment process so that it mirrors the FDRS process. New students, faculty, and staff will be appointed this summer to the IAG, which will be co-chaired by Professor of Philosophy Daw-Nay Evans and OIR Director Claudia Ramirez Islas.
Last Friday, faculty met to discuss the question of how to teach controversial subjects dealing with racial oppression while respecting the legitimate, understandable interests and emotions of students of color. Faculty witnessed first-hand the harm caused when white faculty voice racially derogatory terms – the “N-word,” in particular – because of the powerful, negative, education-obstructing effect such terms have on people of color.
To build on lessons from that meeting, the Office of Faculty Development (OFD) and OIR will schedule a gathering of faculty and students still on campus in the second half of May. Students and faculty will consider how to lead class discussions of race, among other things, and how to prepare students in advance for such discussions. This gathering and others to come will help OFD prepare new and continuing faculty for the 2019-20 academic year.
On a related front, students need a clear process to follow if they feel they have experienced unfair bias from a faculty or staff member. Our faculty and staff handbooks need explanatory language that clarifies how a student can file a complaint and gain prompt review by the Dean of Faculty (for faculty) or the Director of Human Resources (for staff). Such a review – as in the bias response process for student complaints regarding other students – can help educate faculty and staff, and serve to prevent bias in the future. In particular, such a review can help surface and dispel one or more of the implicit biases that we all carry.
We must also continue to improve campus communication. In more than one instance this month, our communication has been inadequate, and I take responsibility for that. In particular, the College must do a more complete job of informing students, faculty and staff about campus developments, good or bad, affecting diversity and inclusion.
As a concluding point in this message, I am pleased to report that OIR will receive additional financial resources in the coming year and thereafter, thanks to a generous donor. I also know that OIR plans to confer with students on the most effective ways to use those resources.
I look forward to working actively on these measures with students, faculty and staff over the summer and thereafter. By joining together in a dedicated, collective effort, we can ensure that our campus lives up to our well-established mission of embracing diversity, and that the Lake Forest College community is one in which we can all take pride.
Stephen D. Schutt
Lake Forest College”
5/20/19: Ellen Kazembe ‘20 was given an ultimatum by a Lake Forest College Staff member [Editor’s note: name redacted] that she could either take part in racial activism or retain her position as the Features Editor for the Stentor Lake Forest College Newspaper.
There was a Faculty/Student Forum Meeting moderated by the Associate Dean of Faculty Anna Jones, Professor of Art History, Ann Roberts, Assistant Director of Intercultural Relations Andre Meeks, and the Director of Intercultural Relations, Claudia Ramirez-Islas. It was attended by 35 faculty members and 15 students. This meeting determined a basic structure for how such subjects should be addressed in class.
6/7/19: The Director of... [Editor’s note: name redacted] at Lake Forest College informed Ellen Kazembe ‘20 of the exact words which the Lake Forest College Staff member, [Editor’s note: name redacted] had stated she employed “I am not sure what journalist morals are in your country. But you as a journalist can not be an activist.” The Director of…[Editor’s note: name redacted] at Lake Forest College also stated that the Lake Forest College Staff member had regretted these words and that the Staff member had been met with. The Director of ...[Editor’s note: name redacted] at Lake Forest College also informed Kazembe that she could certainly continue, both in her post at the Lake Forest College Newspaper The Stentor, and with her racial activism.
8/23/19: Dean Conner sent out an email explicating in great detail Lake Forest College’s summer plans to combat racial incidents on campus
Editor’s note: This email was sent by Dean Conner to the campus community via email at 11:49 AM
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Near the end of the spring semester, on April 29, President Schutt wrote to tell you about a number of actions the College would take over the summer to help make our community more fully inclusive. We are pleased to report on the good progress that has been made.
1) To facilitate student-faculty communication about issues of race on campus, a group of students and faculty met in late May to share and discuss their experiences. The meeting minutes can be found at my.lakeforest/administration/inclusion and diversity projects. The discussion demonstrated an ongoing need for students, faculty, and staff to have opportunities to speak together about important issues. Addressing that need, the Office of Faculty Development (OFD) and the Office of Intercultural Relations (OIR) will schedule monthly brown bag lunches, with the first to take place on September 10. More details will be announced via email prior to the events.
2) The College has obtained two key Everfi online training modules: “Diversity in the Modern Workplace” and “Managing Bias.” On August 8, in an email to all faculty and staff, President Schutt provided directions for accessing the modules. All faculty and staff need to complete the training as soon as possible, ideally before the start of fall semester classes.
3) The Intercultural Advisory Group (IAG) has been reconvened and will be co-chaired by OIR Director Claudia Ramirez Islas and Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies Courtney Joseph. Other IAG members will include the following students, faculty, and staff: Professor of Spanish Gizella Meneses, Volwiler Professor of Mathematics DeJuran Richardson, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Brian McCammack, Assistant OIR Director Andre Meeks, Interim Assistant OIR Director Karen Taboada, Athletics Program Coordinator Amanda Walker, Zaria Sydnor ’20 (fall), Kotch Mmopi ’20 (spring), and Sydney Mudd ’20. Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Andrea Conner will also serve as an ex officio member. IAG will address a number of important topics, challenges and opportunities this year, including, among others:
- increasing and improving educational training opportunities for faculty and staff
- researching and promoting effective ways to recruit and retain faculty of color
- researching and promoting effective ways to recruit and retain staff of color, including development of a hiring process that will echo, as appropriate, the Faculty Diversity Recruitment Subcommittee process for faculty appointments
- researching advanced training opportunities for faculty and staff who would like to provide leadership as allies/advocates for racial justice
- engaging directly with students, faculty and staff. The IAG will meet biweekly and will open the meeting for a “Community Caucus” once a month, on September 26, October 24, and November 21, at 11:00am in Meyer Auditorium (Hotchkiss Hall).
4) To clarify the process students should follow if they believe they have experienced unfair, biased treatment from another student, faculty or staff member, the Student Handbook, Faculty Handbook, and Staff Handbook are updated to include clear language about how to file a report and what the report will generate. To keep our community informed about the frequency and nature of bias complaints, and their results, OIR will maintain a log and periodically report data from it to campus, while maintaining confidentiality where necessary.
5) The Faculty Diversity Recruitment Subcommittee (FDRS), chaired by Associate Professor of Education Desmond Odugu, continues its work supporting the College’s search process for new tenure-track faculty. This year, FDRS will, among other things, provide resources to address implicit bias to ensure that our search processes are fair and effective.
6) The College’s next Diversity & Inclusion Summit will take place on Saturday, January 25 when students, faculty and staff can participate. A planning committee has been formed to organize its sessions, and will be co-chaired by Associate Dean of the Faculty/OFD Director Anna Jones and OIR Director Claudia Ramirez Islas. Other members will include the following faculty, staff and students: Visiting Assistant Professor of English RL Watson, Professor of Anthropology Holly Swyers, Associate Professor of Communication Linda Horwitz, Associate Director of Residence Life Karl Turnlund, Interim Library Director Anne Thomason, Assistant OIR Director André Meeks, Associate Dean of Students Erin Hoffman, Zahra Nadeem ’22, Esther Kim ’22, and Taylor Jackson ‘20.
7) OIR has consulted with students – and will continue to consult – on best ways to utilize $50,000 in additional funding that a donor has provided to spend over three years. After reviewing possible options for a new location, OIR has decided to remain in its present Rosemary House quarters for the coming academic year, and to maintain the Intercultural House on South Campus.
8) The OFD has developed a series of weekly workshops for new, tenure-track faculty that will feature three sessions on inclusive teaching practices. OFD is also holding a year-long monthly programming series entitled Diversity and Inclusiveness in Teaching, which will invite faculty to consider and discuss numerous approaches to make their classrooms the most productive possible learning environments for all their students.
We thank all those involved in summertime work on these projects and initiatives, and encourage everyone in our community to join together in a collective effort to make our campus the most inclusive, fair, and inspiring place it can be. If you have questions or suggestions, please feel free to direct them to either of us, to President Schutt, or to OIR Director Claudia Ramirez Islas.
Davis Schneiderman Andrea Conner
Krebs Provost and Dean of the Faculty Vice President of Student Affairs & Dean of Students