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Dear Black Student Union and Student Body Government:

Gallaudet University recognizes the systemic racism embedded into the Gallaudet experience for many in our community. We are taking increased action to eradicate it. Anti-racism work requires a transformation in both our systems and through individual change. We are acting on both ends.

The anti-racism work happening at Gallaudet has not always been communicated sufficiently to the community. Going forward, we will communicate frequently about what is happening to eradicate racism at Gallaudet.

The Black Student Union and the Student Body Government called for change and identified six specific changes designed to address systemic racism. Our institutional actions are identified below.

Additional Training for Officers at the Department of Public Safety

  • All members of the DPS staff will participate annually in developmental educational and personal growth workshops that will focus on:
    • Nonviolent communication
    • Developing personal reflective skills to learn how personal biases influence decisions and perspectives
    • Recognizing implicit and explicit bias in law enforcement
    • Learning the historical perspective of racism in society and higher education
    • How to provide trauma informed responses to complaints
    • Community policing to improve campus/community cooperation
    • Effective communications and customer service in higher education
  • All members of the DPS staff will participate in annual de-escalation training. This training will be specifically tailored for bilingual context. ASL and Deaf Culture training will be required of DPS staff.
    • Training will be followed up by dialogue sessions every semester between students of color and DPS and will be co-facilitated by EDI and Ombuds.
    • A new behavioral interview portion and student engagement will be part of the new DPS hiring process.
    • New Office performance evaluations will include interaction with students, effectiveness of interaction with students, and improvement in ASL fluency.

Additional Training for Gallaudet Staff and Faculty

  • All faculty, staff, and teachers are required to complete an online training by December 2020.
    • Faculty are taking the online Culturally Responsive and Trauma training that began this summer and was developed by Dr. Ndura, Dr. Cara Miller and Liz Stone.
    • EDI, in collaboration with Academic Affairs and Human Resources, will develop an online training for Gallaudet University and Clerc Center staff.
    • Clerc Center will collaborate to ensure an online training is made available to all teachers.
  • Ongoing anti-racism training – both online and in-person – will be required of all faculty, staff, and teachers annually.
  • Executive team members will continue to deepen and build skills to support anti-racism work. We will continue to develop capacity to create a stronger culture of commitment to equity and belonging at Gallaudet. We recognize this is a deep change that requires steadfast attention and engagement with our community, particularly our BIPOC.

Increase Diversity in Staff and Faculty

  • Led by a majority BIPOC, the Transforming the Work Experience Steering Committee will begin the human resources redesign process. A second work group made up of at least 60 percent BIPOC will work with a BIPOC-led consulting team to shape the recommendations to the Steering Committee. The Clerc Center will either be a part of the core work group or have a parallel structure within Clerc Center that will report up to the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee members are:
    • Dominic Lacy, Chief Operating Officer
    • Dr. Khadijat Rashid, Dean of the Faculty
    • Christina Shen Austin, Executive Director Human Resource Services
    • Dr. Elavie Ndura, Chief Diversity Officer
    • Dr. Laurene Simms, Chief Bilingual Officer
    • Nicole Sutliffe, Chief Administrative Officer, Clerc Center
    • Heather Harker, Chief of Staff
  • The system redesign will address many of the inefficiencies in our current processes and will ensure mobility, professional development, equity of opportunity, and increase diversity of the staff, faculty, and teachers at Gallaudet.
  • New key performance indicators regarding diversity will be identified as part of the new strategic plan. OEDSOC, FOCC and Student organizations of color will engage in these processes to identify metrics. These metrics will be shared on the Gallaudet website along with an annual update of progress toward those benchmarks.
  • Clerc Center leadership and a representative Clerc Center Committee will develop the key performance indicators specific to Clerc Center.
  • Beginning immediately, Gallaudet will prioritize engagement and outreach with deaf organizations of color to recruit for Gallaudet positions.

Include Student Representatives in the University Hiring Process

  • Search Committees are established for all posted positions at Gallaudet. The current policy permits but does not require full time students to serve on a Search Committee.
  • Student engagement will be a key new policy and practice consideration as a part of the Transforming the Work Experience process. Input from students will be included as part of the decision making by the Steering Committee.

Increase Diversity in Gallaudet’s Student Body

  • Diversity among students is increasing at Gallaudet, with BIPOC students comprising 51 percent of first-time full-time freshmen who first enrolled in fall of 2019.
  • Additional resources have been re-allocated for three student success coaches – all BIPOC and recent graduates of the university – to support student retention and success.
  • Gallaudet will make both historic and current data regarding the demographics of students readily accessible on the University’s website so enrollment and retention can be easily measured and tracked in a visual format.

Introduce a Zero-Tolerance Policy for Racism at Gallaudet University

  • President Cordano and each member of the leadership team unequivocally denounce racism and white supremacy in all forms. We will continue to take resolute and appropriate measures related to any behaviors that are racist or hateful. In those measures, consideration will be given to the relationships involved and structures in place that may impact the community’s confidence in Gallaudet’s commitment.
  • In order to ensure that reports of racism are addressed in a timely, equitable, and effective manner, we are strengthening our policies and procedures. The development of this process will be co-led by Associate General Counsel Faye Kuo and EEO Officer Sharrell McCaskill and includes the development of a hate-bias incident reporting response protocol. Student engagement, cross-divisional collaboration, and stakeholder feedback is expected and encouraged.
  • As part of onboarding and annual training by Human Resources, the University will educate all members of the campus community to adhere to the principles of Gallaudet University’s mission in their speech and conduct and to support the imperative of belonging and equity.

These actions are just some of the many efforts at Gallaudet to address systemic racism. But it is not enough. There is so much more that will be done.

Dismantling racism is a long journey – one that should have clear markers of progress. We will continue engaging, listening, acting, and communicating. This list only states some of the work happening at Gallaudet University and should not be viewed as comprehensive.

Our community’s commitment to this work may not negate the pain of what has happened in the past, but it can lead to change and healing.

Please join us in transforming the many systems of our institution and making Gallaudet a place where all feel safe and that they belong.

Sincerely,
President Cordano and Executive Team

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