Anti-Racism at Cal Lutheran

July 22, 2020


Cal Lutheran Community,

Approximately one month ago, we shared a report with you about our institutional work to initiate and maintain broad systemic changes to support an agenda of anti-racism. We are encouraged by the dedication of several campus affinity organizations that have been calling for clear, measurable progress to end institutional and systemic racism. We are pleased to acknowledge the formation of POC Collective, a group of self-identified people of color who are focused on centering the voices of people of color at Cal Lutheran and engaging regularly in anti-racist work campuswide. We have been in continuous dialogue with the POC Collective, Black Employees Association, Equity Leadership Council, Faculty Senate, and other students, faculty, and staff who have expressed interest in shared accountability processes and projects to measure anti-racism work on our campuses.
As promised, we report the following updates on anti-racist work:
Interactive Accountability Website
The website will launch by August 3, 2020. This site will be the central location where the community can find updates on the University’s equity, diversity, and inclusion work. It will be accessible to all members of the Cal Lutheran community and allow individuals to submit questions and comments. Cal Lutheran community members will be invited to share their actions in support of equity, diversity, and inclusion. The Cabinet will continue to review EDI initiatives weekly and use this tool to report updates to the campus each month. It will also be a platform through which students, faculty, and staff may connect with anti-racism resources and groups within our community.
Anti-Bias Policy and Community Standard
Work has begun to establish a standard of accountability that defines behavior that is inconsistent with the institutional commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. The Student Conduct Team is developing both a Community Standard as well as Bias Incident Procedures for students. Human Resources is drafting an Anti-Bias Policy for staff and faculty. Student Conduct and Human Resources staff members met together on July 6 to align policy and statement efforts. HR and Student Conduct will use the same definitions for bias incidents, implicit bias, explicit bias, hate crime and protected status. The employee handbook will include an Anti-Bias Policy statement directing staff and faculty to the complete policy, which will provide information on reporting, investigations and consequences. Student Conduct’s Bias Incident Procedures will include information on reporting, and campus and local resources. Policies that address bias also will be included in the student handbook and incorporate potential sanctions for violations. The Community Standard, Bias Incident Procedures and Anti-Bias Policy will be completed by September 1, 2020. The Community Standard statement will be posted in several high-visibility locations.
Bias Reporting and Response Team
A group of faculty, staff, and students met June 26 and July 14 to begin developing a bias reporting system and response team. The group has divided into five work teams focused on different elements of the reporting system. They are scheduling meetings with representatives of other institutions to learn about their systems. Cabinet committed to launching a reporting system and response team by September 1. The group members who are developing the bias reporting system are:

  • Cynthia Duarte, Director of the Center for Equality and Justice and Assistant Professor of Sociology
  • Michael Elgarico, Dean of Undergraduate Admission
  • Jonathan Gonzales, Senior Coordinator of Multicultural Programs
  • Juanita Hall, Senior Director of the Center for Global Engagement and Office of International
  • Students and Scholars and Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Christina Hanna, Assistant Director of Residence Life and Student Conduct
  • Rick Holigrocki, Dean of the Graduate School of Psychology
  • Wendy Jimenez, Director of Disability Support Services
  • Caeli Koizumi, Equity Leadership Council Graduate Student Representative and Executive Assistant to Mission and Identity
  • Sean Kreycik, Senior Systems Administrator
  • Martina Kushwaha, Equity Leadership Council Undergraduate Student Representative
  • Jessica Lavariega Monforti, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
  • Angela Naginey, Deputy Registrar of Academic Services & Title IX Coordinator
  • Leanne Neilson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Patricia Parham, Assistant Vice President for Human Resources
  • Syed Areeb Rizvi, Equity Leadership Council Undergraduate Student Representative
  • Roxanne Robinson-Jones, Assistant Director of Human Resources
  • Dane Rowley, Director of International Admission
  • Christina Sanchez, Associate Provost for Global Engagement
  • Rachel Schmid, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions
  • Beth Turner, Director of Counseling & Psychological Services
  • Paloma Vargas, Director of H.S.I. Initiatives and Assistant Professor of Biology

Community Scholars for Black Lives
The newly named scholarship initiative is due to launch on July 27, and applications will be accepted through August 30. This scholarship memorializes the numerous Black lives lost to the use of deadly force by police and racially motivated acts of violence, oftentimes with no criminal consequences. The Community Scholars for Black Lives will support up to two Cal Lutheran students engaged in work that embodies progress toward a just society where African Americans do not bear the brunt of racist structures and systems. A Community Scholars for Black Lives website has been established and is available here. Black community leaders from Ventura County serve as partners who help select and mentor the students to receive the award. The George Floyd killing reignited the Black Lives Matter movement, beckoning an international call for racial justice. One outcome of the uprising was North Central University in Minneapolis establishing the George Floyd Scholarship and challenging other universities to do the same. The Community Scholars for Black Lives Initiative is our response to that challenge. The University also funds scholarships that are disbursed by community partners to college-bound students who demonstrate a passion for advancing civil rights and racial justice.

New Student Space: The Alexander Twilight Legacy of Black Excellence
Construction of this dedicated space for Black students in the Student Union was completed in July 2020. Furniture has been selected, and the space has been named for the first African American to earn a bachelor’s degree from an American university or college (Middlebury in 1823). This space is intended to be a safe and supportive place that fosters student development, inclusive programming and a sense of community and belonging. Additional affinity group spaces will be needed so that all students have a place to gather on campus with people who have shared identities and common experiences.

Center for Cultural Engagement and Inclusion Funding
An additional $25,000 has been provided to support the Center for Cultural Engagement and Inclusion’s work cultivating an inclusive campus community and supporting students from all backgrounds as they learn about identities other than their own. This funding may be applied toward new spaces, increased programming, and support for student culture and justice organizations.
Curriculum Assessment
Dr. Taiwo Ande, who started as the new Associate Provost for Educational Effectiveness on June 29, will lead a review of the curriculum to address issues related to equity, diversity, and inclusion. This will be launched by the end of September 2020 and include an assessment of our undergraduate requirement for Global Perspectives and U.S. Diversity, as well as a review of how we achieve our institutional learning outcome of Cross-Cultural Competency across the entire curriculum.
Holiday Schedule
The Holiday and Cultural Observance Task Group has been formed and began meeting last week to review our holiday schedule and find a way to honor the diverse cultural and religious traditions of our community. The group has divided into two work teams — one will develop an updated holiday calendar and the other will identify cultural observances that will be commemorated by our community. A new holiday calendar will be published no later than September 1, 2020.  The members of the group are:

  • Shelden Agbayani, Admission Counselor
  • Sheann Avery, Employee Engagement & Communications Specialist
  • Maria Kohnke, Associate Provost of Academic Services and Registrar
  • Destiny Lewis, Early Outreach Coordinator
  • Maddie Liberti, Coordinator for Community Service
  • Elizabeth Lohr-Myers, Administrative Assistant for Campus Ministry
  • Melissa Maxwell-Doherty, Vice President for Mission and Identity
  • Izzy Ortiz, Coordinator for Cultural Engagement & Inclusion
  • Roxanne Robinson-Jones, Assistant Director of Human Resources
  • Christina Sanchez, Associate Provost for Global Engagement
  • Adrianne Sarreal, AmeriCorps Community Engagement Coordinator
  • LaVerne Seales, Associate Professor of Languages and Cultures
  • Jess Waddell, Director of Bachelor's Degree for Professionals

Work with Dr. Shaun Harper
Dr. Shaun Harper, executive director of the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center, will conduct a training program for staff hiring managers in Fall 2020 to support racial equity in recruiting and hiring practices. Earlier this month, he conducted a workshop on race and inclusivity with Cal Lutheran’s Alumni Board of Directors. The center will provide Cal Lutheran with an equity, diversity, and inclusion strategic planning document in August. The feedback survey results from the May workshop with Harper are available here.
International Student Support
In response to the July 6 announcement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that international students with F-1 visas would be forced to leave the U.S. if they did not have in-person classes in Fall 2020, Cal Lutheran joined the Amicus Brief submitted by the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration in the Harvard-MIT lawsuit and participated in outreach initiatives alongside other universities. While the government agreed last week to rescind the policy as a result of the lawsuit, the victory will be short-lived without continued diligence. We will continue to advocate for international students. Our international student body is an integral and valued part of the Cal Lutheran community. Our international students strengthen our institution, broaden our minds, and enrich our community’s cultural experience.
We invite your feedback as we continue to provide updates on our anti-racism work at Cal Lutheran.

In good faith,
Chris Kimball
Regina Biddings-Muro
Vice President for University Advancement
Karen Davis
Vice President for Administration and Finance
Melissa Maxwell-Doherty
Vice President for Mission and Identity
Leanne Neilson
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Melinda Roper
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Matt Ward
Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing