Why are you serving on the Council on Equity and Inclusion?
I am one of two faculty representatives to the Council on Equity and Inclusion. My colleague, Dr. Jeremy Loebach, was elected by a vote of the faculty to serve on the Council. I was invited and appointed to serve by Provost Marci Sortor, who was the initial Chair of the Council on Equity and Inclusion when it was established. I have served on the Council since its inception. As one of the longest-serving BIPOC faculty at St. Olaf, I felt it was important to support the work of the Council in striving for better access, diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community for ALL people!
What drives your interest in and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracist work?
As an African American alumnus of St. Olaf (Class of 1978) and a faculty member who is about to begin my 32nd year of service at St. Olaf, I want St. Olaf to be a place where EVERY student, faculty, or staff member can FULLY THRIVE and find a place of belonging. Unfortunately, there are still racist and other negative behaviors in the St. Olaf community that impede our college community from being the best version of itself. I want to see these behaviors eliminated and changes in the college’s policies and structures that have prohibited true thriving and belonging at St. Olaf for BIPOC and other marginalized members of our community.
When someone asks you how they can support this work on campus, what is your advice?
Well, we need to start in our “own backyard” in our respective departments, office units, residence halls, classes, music ensembles, athletic teams, organizations, etc. ASK — are you and others treating one another, especially your BIPOC colleagues or students, with respect and compassion? Reflect and acknowledge the biases we each carry and be more intentional to eradicate these behaviors in our daily lives. Also, be willing to call out the injustices when we see them at work in the St. Olaf community.
What is your hope for the future of St. Olaf?
I believe that St. Olaf at its core is a loving and grace-filled community. There is much in our legacy for which we can offer thanks and celebrate. However, we must look with discerning minds and hearts to remove the obstacles at St. Olaf that prevent us from becoming the “beloved community” to which we aspire.