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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 November we celebrate Native American Heritage Month. We celebrate the culture, traditions, and histories of Native people. We acknowledge their contributions and the continuous reparation work needed. This Heritage Month is an opportunity to engage in intentional education about the different tribes. Take time to learn and understand the challenges Native people have faced in the past and present, and the ways in which tribal community members have worked to address and overcome these challenges.

This year we have taken multiple steps to have discussions around what it means to live beyond the land acknowledgement. Among those steps is beginning conversations to establish a partnership between St. Olaf College and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The purpose of this partnership is to develop pathways for recruitment and retention of Native American students. Our goal is to bring Native American students into our community with an intentional plan for retention. We want to make sure that students have spaces and opportunities to connect and build belonging and agency. More to come on the fruits of this partnership!

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism (DEIA) Work Lessons Learned
It has been more than a month since I have had the opportunity to highlight the wonderful work and lessons learned from members of our community. This week I would like to recognize all the strong and impactful work coming out of our Financial Aid Office. The office has taken strides to make sure that equity goes hand in hand with our diversity and inclusion goals. Among the team’s accomplishments are:

  • The International Student Equity Funding covers international students’ taxable scholarships, subsidized health insurance, supports the CPT tuition charge, and a transition grant ($500 one-time funding for new, high-need international students).
  • The Lion Grant was created in FY21 to help low-income students dealing with extra charges (such as the nursing fee, health insurance for DACA students, overload charge, food support, etc.)
  • The Retention Fund is an endowed fund reserved for financial aid counselor use. It helps students with a balance get below the balance threshold in order to spur on-time registration.
  • The Homeless Student Aid Policy was created in FY22 to better meet the needs of our students facing housing insecurity.
  • The St. Olaf Resource Center, created in May 2021 and funded by a generous donor, provides no-cost food to students during the summer.

In addition to the accomplishments above, I wanted to pay special attention to our Emergency Fund Grant. The St. Olaf Emergency Fund has been in place since the spring of 2018. Initiated by an alumna, it provides grants to students who are experiencing a financial hardship due to an unanticipated event or emergency, such as travel expenses due to a serious illness, death, or emergency in the student’s immediate family; essential dental work or eyeglasses, or unforeseen personal medical expenses; technology needs; safety needs; and books and other essential academic expenses. Do you want to see the impact the emergency fund has had? Go here!

First-Generation College Celebration Week
In conjunction with institutions around the country, St. Olaf College is pleased to participate in the 5th National First-Generation College Celebration. Join us for events during the week of November 8-12 to learn more about first-generation student experiences and celebrate their achievements at St. Olaf. To learn more about the celebrations during the week go here. #CelebrateFirstGen

Places to Be!
Blood Memory: A Story of Removal and Return. The Department of Social Work and Family Studies is hosting a showing of Blood Memory: A Story of Removal and Return, including virtual visits by Sandy White Hawk and Priscilla Day at 5:30 p.m. on November 2 in Holland Hall 501.

HT94 Dia de los Muertos Vigil. The Hostile Terrain 94 at St. Olaf invites you to a Dia de Los Muertos Vigil commemorating migrant death at the US/Mexico border at 5:30 p.m. on  November 1 in Groot Gallery, Center for Art and Dance. For more information go here.

Liberatory Adornment at the Flaten Art Museum (November 5–January 23). Curated by Jillian Hernandez, this exhibition explores how Kenya (Robinson), Pamela Council, and Yvette Mayorga are mobilizing femininity to claim beauty, care, and abundance for Black and Latinx folx. An opening event will be held at 5 p.m. on November 5 in Viking Theater that will feature a video premiere of Kenya (Robinson)’s BLACK OF ENTITLEMENT (2021) and a roundtable conversation. Moderated by Jillian Hernandez, Kenya (Robinson) will be joined by moving image artist Rini Yun Keagy, St. Olaf Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Arneshia Williams, and St. Olaf Assistant Professor of Music Tesfa Wondemagegnehu. Following the screening and roundtable, all are invited to a reception at 6:30 p.m. in the Flaten Art Museum.

Angela Two Stars at the Walker Art Center. The newest addition to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a piece by Angela Two Stars, described by the Walker as a work that’s “simultaneously a sculptural form, a gathering space, and an interactive work that provides a site for a broad audience to engage with Dakota language.”

Opportunities for Development on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism
The St. Olaf Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office will be offering a professional development opportunity for our staff and faculty on November 17 titled “Critical Dialogue Strategies to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Work and Conversations.” During this training, faculty and staff will gain facilitation skills that will aid in leading, participating, and moving forward the DEI work in departments and offices across campus.

Bias Report Update 

Total Reports* Intakes** Restorative Justice Process Investigations
19 17 0 0

*Reports are from October 2021
**Intakes are not done when a report is anonymous or the reporting party requests to not be contacted
***Reporting Parties: 16 students, 2 staff members, 0 Anonymous, 1 Faculty
****Responding Parties: 4 students, 1 staff members, 6 Unknown, 8 Faculty
*****Targeted parties: 12 students, 0 staff members, 6 Unknown, 1 Faculty



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