We often speak of diversity, equity and inclusion at Cascadia. We discuss it at meetings, create and engage in professional development opportunities devoted to this work, and pursue initiatives to help address needs within our community. While such efforts have been a thread throughout my career, there was one particular moment that made it clear to me that we needed to start taking bolder steps.
Four years ago, I was sitting in a green Adirondack chair out by the maple tree in our patch of ecoturf. It was a warm, sunny morning and I watched our early students walk to class. What I noticed in particular was the diversity of the students who came to us. In that moment, it reinforced for me the notion that we needed to understand their stories – as well as the stories of our faculty and staff — if we were going to be effective educators. For me, the Green Chair took on symbolism to represent awareness and intention. I asked employees to take pictures of themselves in the chair and we showed those at Convocation.
The Green Chair had a life span of a year or so before it was lost to the ecoturf. But the symbolism of the Green Chair has remained strong with several people. One of those people is Marion Heard, who decided that we needed to bring it back as a reminder of the diverse richness of our community. Marion donated funds to build a new chair and the grounds crew accepted the challenge, recognizing the importance of symbols and actions. Using Marion’s donation, Tyson and his crew rebuilt and painted Green Chair 2.0. It is inscribed with a quote Marion chose from Maya Angelou:
You may not think you can reach it.
You may not think you’ll be heard.
You may not think you can change things.
Green Chair 2.0 rejoins our campus at noon today. I invite you to join me at the maple tree for a few moments at 12:00 to sit in the chair, acknowledge its significance, and enjoy the afternoon sun.
The commitment to this work is evident both on campus and off. This week, Bothell Police Chief Carol Cummings and Captain Mike Johnson joined the Pluralism committee to talk about officer training regarding bias, hate speech and protests. Here is how Becky Riopel summarized the visit.
We learned that extensive training is offered to Bothell Police Officers regarding implicit bias (attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner). Over the last 5 years, training has continued to grow and become more comprehensive, including an annual mandatory test about bias (BPD has a 100% pass rate). In addition, about half of the officers have completed an 8 hour course on justice-based policing, with a plan for all officers to complete it.
On May 9th they will be hosting a new course on perception and bias, designed with a curriculum planner. This course will also be offered to UWB/CC Campus Safety officers.
Chief Cummings shares a philosophy will all her officers to LEED in every situation: Listen to what people are saying, Explain what they (the officers) are doing, and treat everyone with Equity & Dignity.
When asked about how the Bothell Police Department works with ICE agents, they were quick to point out that unless a criminal warrant is involved, BPD does not work with ICE. They do not want to have a community where someone feels they can’t be protected because they are afraid of their immigration status. They do not enforce civil detainment requests.
Regarding free speech, hate speech or protests, their concern is ensuring the right to free speech in a safe manner. If there is an event on campus, college/university administrators set the tone and are in charge until things become unsafe. If the environment becomes unsafe, officers want to be supportive and handle the interaction respectfully. When there is a sign, letter, or email on campus with hate speech, BPD will provide resources and do a full investigation. Then, an incident is referred to a prosecutor to determine if it could be disruptive or become a viable threat. They also shared how they prepare for potential local/national threats or incidents.
Thank you to Chief Cummings and Captain Johnson for their visit.
As we jump into May, the season of celebration and gatherings begins. Please pay special attention to the calendar and dates for the Trustees vote on tenure, the Honors and Leadership Reception, the All Employee Celebration, and Commencement. In addition, there are a number of forums scheduled that would benefit from your input.
- Monday, May 14 and Thursday, May 24 from 12:00-1:00 pm faculty are invited to join me in the President’s Conference Room to review my research regarding other revenue sources for the college. There will be additional forums during the summer for staff.
- Monday, May 21 from 2:30-4:30 in Mobius Hall everyone is invited to attend a Sound Transit forum about the 522 Bus Rapid Transit project. ST recognizes our campus as a major stakeholder in this project and is interested in collecting feedback from students, faculty, and staff.
And don’t forget that next Friday is our non-instructional day. The executive team will have breakfast for you from 8:30-9:30 in Mobius. From there you will be spending the day with your teams/disciplines.
Have a great weekend.