New Paltz students, alumni and employees this summer joined millions across the United States and around the world in calling for a more just and equitable society, and an end to policies that disproportionately harm communities of color.
SUNY New Paltz has identified a number of steps the institution has taken or will be taking to make a change in our own community, including the establishment of a bias response and support network; the continued diversification of our faculty, student body and academic curriculum; and reflection on the role and responsibilities of University Police on our campus.
All members of the campus community were invited to lend their voices to this work through the “Dismantling Racism” series of town hall conversations this summer and fall. These community forums, held via web conference, allowed campus leaders to hear from hundreds of students, employees, alumni, supporters, neighbors and family members about their experiences of racism and their ideas for continuing to improve our campus culture.
This fall, the campus community made progress on several relevant initiatives that were part of the June 30 pledge to become an actively anti-racist and more inclusive institution.
Bias Response and Support Network
Our new bias response and support network provides avenues for all members of our community to report experiences of bias or racism, seek support and redress when they have experienced bias and provide education to community members about the impact of these incidents on others. The network also includes a response and support team, which serves as a resource toward prevention of and response to bias experiences.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Faculty Fellows Program
At the initiation of several faculty leaders and with the support of the Provost, this program has been initiated to broaden discussion and undertake actions “to develop curricula, practices, and programs that engage with dynamics of social inequality and racism in the US and abroad.”
In addition to curricular and pedagogical projects undertaken by Faculty Fellows (noted above) a group of STEM faculty in several departments have been working to build more inclusive pedagogy and classroom environments.
Diversity and Inclusion Council
We have broadened the structure of our diversity and inclusion work by establishing working groups in each academic college or school that are coordinating with the college-wide Diversity & Inclusion Council. These groups aim to expand involvement, spur broader conversation and build or enlarge avenues for integrating or accelerating this work into the curriculum, departments and college or schools.
The College received feedback from the campus community to employ an alternative to calling the University Police Department (UPD) when students are experiencing a mental health crisis after business hours. As a result, we have established a new after-hours protocol for students with mental health issues so that they can receive triage services by continuing to use the Psychological Counseling Center phone number without having to call UPD.
The University Police Department has stated its commitment to be an anti-racist law-enforcement organization. This includes UPD’s commitment to transparency, implicit bias and de-escalation trainings, review of policies and procedures to ensure they support an anti-racist culture and ensuring that all officers are held accountable to these values.
SUNY-wide Action Plan
The College is eager to participate in the SUNY-wide action plan to increase diversity, equity and inclusion, and to combat racial inequity and division. Several goals of that plan align closely with campus goals, including dismantling racial equity gaps; improving courses and curricula to increase literacy about race, equity, and related topics; better understanding campus climate; and diversifying leadership and governance.
Learn more online about the progress we have made together this fall as a campus community on several relevant initiatives at newpaltz.edu/diversity/anti-racism.