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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update

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This is part of a series of regular updates that Vice President for Equity and Inclusion María Pabón Gautier sends to the campus community.

Dear St. Olaf Community,

In March we celebrate National Women’s History Month. We take dedicated time to honor the women of our past, present, and those paving the future. We hold each other up as a community and we call on everyone to continue to fight for gender rights. I come from a strong matriarchal family. I am part of generations of women who, despite poverty, sexism, and cultural norms, have stood tall, proud, and strong. Now I’m raising two amazing women, and I work hard every day to share the strength, joy, and love for who we are that have fueled the light in me. The work for gender equity is not done yet. Currently, women in the United States make 80% of what men make. For women of color, the number drops to 60%. However, we are not to be stopped: in 2020–21 women accounted for 60% of college students. In celebration of this month, I want to share Maya Angelou’s poem Phenomenal Women. I will only share an excerpt, but you can find the full poem here.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Invasion of Ukraine
Yesterday Russian military forces invaded Ukraine, beginning what the New York Times describes as the first major land war in Europe in decades. We currently have several students from Ukraine, Russia, and surrounding countries who may be experiencing extreme hurt, stress, and feelings of helplessness. Being away from family and friends and not knowing whether they are safe or hurt is a huge burden to carry. I ask our community to be aware that you may have students in your classrooms or spaces who need to talk, vent, or just find a safe place to be. On a campus that is hyperfocused on U.S.-centric events, being an international student watching conflicts at home from far away can feel extremely isolating. If you need support you can reach out to:

Verdict of former officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao
Yesterday, former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao were found guilty of violating the civil rights of George Floyd. The officers were convicted of depriving Mr. Floyd of his civil rights when they failed to provide medical aid. The verdict is a step toward accountability, and it continues to put pressure on our justice system to truly serve our communities, especially communities of color. The jury sent a strong message, but we still have work to do. This was evident at the end of last week, when a judge sentenced former Minneapolis police officer Kim Potter to only two years in prison, a sentence well below state guidelines, for fatally shooting Daunte Wright.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Symposium: Last Call!
Call for Proposals: The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office and the Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion invite students, staff, faculty, and alumni to submit proposals for presentations, posters, or roundtables for our inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Symposium: Recognizing Excellence, Challenges, and the Work Ahead. We seek proposals that address ongoing and emerging areas of social justice, representation, equity, access, inclusion, and psychological safety pertaining to communities in higher education and society at large. For more information and to submit proposals, go here.

Heritage, History, or Awareness Month Celebrations
Black History Month. Last week I had the opportunity to listen to and be in conversation with Assistant Professor of Music Tesfa Wondemagegnehu while he launched his To Repair Project and engaged us in truth telling. Did you miss it or want to watch it again? Visit our Equity and Inclusion website to watch the recording.

If you want to access previous recordings from our history, heritage, or awareness celebrations go here.

Places to Be!
I am excited to announce this year’s Artist Series: The Kids Are Alright: Art, Culture + Social Change (March 7-11, 2022). This series will feature a full week of events that will include workshops, lectures, Q&A sessions, and a concert by a Grammy-award-winning artist. Find the schedule and the full artist line-up on the series web page. The Artist Series annually presents outstanding interdisciplinary fine arts events with the aim of reaching a wide audience. Sponsored events are primarily intended for St. Olaf students as an important part of their liberal arts education. Events are free to students, faculty, and staff.

In March the Lutheran Center will be hosting a series of events focused on exploring Lutheran-Jewish relations:

  • Lutheran Center Spring Symposium: Luther’s Legacy of Anti-Judaism and Contemporary Jewish-Lutheran Relations, Tuesday, March 8 from 11:45 a.m.–1 p.m. in Viking Theater –REGISTER HERE
  • Responses toThe Making Known exhibition with Rev. Heidi Neumark, author of the All-Community Read book Hidden Inheritance, Tuesday, March 15 from 4:30–5:15 p.m. in Flaten Art Museum – REGISTER HERE
  • Evening Panel Discussion with Rev. Heidi Neumark, Jewish Community Relations Council Executive Director Steve Hunegs, and Lutheran Center Director Deanna Thompson ’89, Tuesday, March 15 from 7–8:30 p.m. in Viking – REGISTER HERE

Bias Report Update

Total Reports* Intakes** Restorative Justice Process Investigations
37 35 1 1

*Reports are from Sept 2021-Feb 2022
**Intakes are not done when a report is anonymous or the reporting party requests to not be contacted
***Reporting Parties: 27 students, 8 staff members, 0 Anonymous, 2 Faculty
****Responding Parties: 8 students, 2 staff members, 9 Unknown, 16 Faculty, 3 Institutional Organizations
*****Targeted parties: 29 students, 1 staff members, 6 Unknown, 1 Faculty


Dr. María C. Pabón Gautier
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion