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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role and purpose of the Diversity & Inclusion Council?

The Diversity & Inclusion Council (D&I Council) was created as the body to support and/or carry out diversity and inclusion objectives outlined or recommended in the Diversity & Inclusion Plan. The D&I Council helps shape campus education, action, dialogue and engagement with inclusion work, serves as a listening body for community concerns around diversity, equity and inclusion, and helps advise campus leadership on ways to better support an equitably minded culture and a sense of community for all members of SUNY New Paltz campus.

The following is an excerpt from the College’s Diversity & Inclusion Plan:

“The College is committed to a range of practices and programs that will foster the ends of equitable inclusion and diversity. The college will, for example:

  • Recruit and retain diverse faculty, staff, and administrators;
  • Recruit and retain a diverse student body;
  • Foster open and effective dialogue between all members and units in the Campus; Community, while developing an awareness of our potential unconscious biases;
  • Consciously provide members with strategic, educational, and experiential opportunities for cultural competency and inclusive leadership skill development;
  • Support individual members of our community in their efforts to advocate for public policy changes that advance social inclusion and cultural understanding;
  • Promote intercultural and international interaction, campus programming, community activities, campus spaces, and co-curricular experiences;
  • Engage with diverse alumni to support diversity and inclusion on campus, while supporting their success and involvement.

Who is on the Diversity & Inclusion Council? 

The inaugural D&I Council was formed at the invitation and appointment of President Christian. The names of the D&I Council members can be found at http://www.newpaltz.edu/diversity/council-membership/. Council members have agreed to serve an initial two-year term. The D&I Council is co-chaired by the Chief Diversity Officer and a member of the faculty. The Council includes individuals who hold a variety of perspectives, experiences and expertise and have pursued or are engaged in inclusion work in their professional as well as personal pursuits.  

Will it be possible in the future to serve on the Council?

Yes! We are very hopeful that additional voices will want to join the D&I Council in the future. During this inaugural term, the current D&I Council will carefully consider requests to join or nominations for membership and the Co-Chairs will make recommendations to President Christian about new membership. We hope the D&I Council will be a space for diverse perspectives from all levels of the college and a group where ideas about inclusion, education, and a culture of community building can thrive.  

What is the process to change building names at SUNY New Paltz?

As a state institution, the decision of what to name a building does not rest at the campus level. In 2010, SUNY policy outlined the criteria and process for how naming occurs. This policy can be found at (https://www.suny.edu/sunypp/documents.cfm?doc_id=81 ) and includes the following:

  • The naming of a physical or non-physical asset of the University is appropriate when a significant gift is received for the benefit of the University, directly or through a campus-related foundation, and to honor the character, service or other positive merits of the donor or the donor’s honoree.
  • Buildings, campus grounds or other physical facilities will not be named for individuals currently employed by the University or the State of New York, unless a donor other than the honoree provides a sufficient gift (as per the campus’ approved naming guidelines) in honor of that individual.
  • All permanently named buildings and grounds must be approved by the campus president and College Council, and all other physical assets and non-physical assets must be approved by the Campus President and College Council and/or campus Foundation Board, as appropriate.
  • Naming connected with gifts of $1 million or more shall be approved by the Chancellor and the State University Board of Trustees.
  • Naming connected with gifts of less than $1 million shall be approved by the Campus President and College Council and/or campus Foundation Board, as appropriate.

Why is this dialogue (about naming) happening now and not earlier?

The inquiry or request to consider renaming certain campus buildings was raised intermittently in the college’s history and there may be many reasons why those conversations did not progress further. The current conversation about the naming of campus buildings became an institutional priority as the national conversation about Confederate statues or building names that memorialize the era of slavery in America was brought to the forefront in the Spring and Summer of 2017. Some view these SUNY New Paltz building names as perpetuating the legacy of slavery, and we are aware that some students, particularly students of color, have expressed their discomfort about living in halls with these names. President Christian therefore charged the D&I Council to foster a full, open and inclusive dialogue for our community.

The buildings in question include the Hasbrouck Complex residence halls (Bevier, Crispell, Lefevre, Deyo, and Dubois), Hasbrouck Dining Hall, and Elting Gymnasium.

Who are the buildings in New Paltz named for?

The founding of SUNY New Paltz is clearly linked to the Huguenot and Dutch families that focused on the importance of education since their arrival in 1677 to what is now called New Paltz. Their efforts, and those of multiple generations of their descendants and other residents, ultimately resulted in the creation and building of the New Paltz Academy. The Academy burned to the ground in 1884, and a new building, constructed to replace it, was in significant debt.

The Board of the Academy considered the possibility of converting the Academy into a State Normal School, with the primary mission to train and educate teachers for New York State schools. Normal Schools already existed in Albany, Oswego, Brockport, Cortland, Fredonia, Potsdam, Geneseo and Buffalo. The Academy Board, along with local politicians, advocated for the State to approve a Normal School in New Paltz. The NYS Assembly passed an “Act in Regard to Normal Schools” on April 7, 1886. The bill provided for a Normal School to be located in the Village of New Paltz, provided that the Academy had to be made ready, and debt free.

 

The Trustees of the New Paltz Academy raised the money needed to pay off existing debt from the community (42%) and themselves (58%), after already contributing liberally to the building of the new Academy. Additional money was needed to make the building up to Normal School standards, which was also paid by the trustees as their last act of the Academy Board. Members of this board were: Ralph LeFevre (President), Elting T. Deyo, Jonathan Deyo, Solomon Deyo, Henry J. DuBois, Gilbert DuBois, Henry H. Elting, Jesse Elting, Philip LeFevre Elting, Abraham Hasbrouck, Josiah J. Hasbrouck, Phillip B Hasbrouck, DuBois LeFevre, Jacob LeFevre, Albert K. Smiley, Lambert Jenkins (wife Elizabeth Hasbrouck), Simon P. Keator (mother Elizabeth Freer), Jacob L. Snyder (wife Rebecca Hasbrouck), Ame Venema (The Minister of NP Reformed Church), and Jackson Schultz.

The New Paltz patentee names were first used on the SUNY campus in 1952 to name the earliest campus housing within College Hall on the Old Main Quad (now College-Shango).

In 1968, the college opened a new set of dormitory buildings. The evidence of specific intentions of campus leadership in assigning Huguenot family names to the newly built Hasbrouck Complex buildings is mixed and imperfect. Records of the College Council minutes of that action refer to “transferring” these names from wings of the previous residence hall to the new buildings, and suggest this was to recognize the original patentees. The first (given) names of the patentees were never used on these buildings, and longstanding common belief among many on campus and within the broader community is that the Hasbrouck Complex of buildings were named not for the original slave-owning patentees, but in recognition of the Huguenot families and their more than three centuries of history in New Paltz. There is no evidence that, in naming these buildings at either time, there was any intent to perpetuate white supremacy or to honor the confederacy. Elting Gymnasium was named for the several members of that family who served on the “Board of Visitors” of the Normal School.

The long history of the Huguenot and Dutch families in New Paltz and beyond clearly includes those who enslaved other people; that includes the original settlers and their descendants up to emancipation. It also includes generations of subsequent descendants of those slave owners, including whites; mixed-race descendants of them and the people who they enslaved; and the descendants of former slaves who adopted those family names after emancipation, like John Hasbrouck, believed to be the first emancipated enslaved African-American to vote in New Paltz. These descendants include prominent citizens - white, black, and mixed-race - in the Hudson Valley and beyond, with some achieving national profiles.

These descendants secured the creation of the New Paltz Normal School and supported its continued progress to become the State Teachers College at New Paltz in 1938 and one of the founding institutions of the SUNY system in 1948. Many fought in the Civil War: 85% of Civil War service records of these families were in the Union Army; for some families, all Civil War service was on the Union side. Historical records of Historic Huguenot Street contain numerous examples of abolitionist activities of family members, and of service in both 20th century World Wars in defense of America.