St. Olaf College | News

Equity and Inclusion Update

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

Interim Portrait of Vice President for Equity and Inclusion María Pabón Gautier
Interim Vice President for Equity and Inclusion María Pabón Gautier

I would like to begin my message with a quote: “Feet, what do I need you for, when I have wings to fly?” – Frida Kahlo. This quote has always been one of my favorites, but this week it took on a different meaning. As we continue to witness the horrific murders against Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and other communities of color, I wonder whether our wings feel too heavy to fly. Then I am reminded of the power and resiliency of our community. I am reminded that when my wings have felt too heavy, someone else held them up with me so I could fly and thrive. As we continue in this work together to build not just a better Olaf but a better world, lean on each other because we are stronger as a flock than on our own.

Therefore, I want to acknowledge your wings. For our students, congratulations to our sophomores on Major Declaration Day! Major Declaration Day is exciting, and it is a big part of your journey to strengthen your wings. For our staff, a big shout-out to our front-line people, from our custodial staff to our advisors and programmers. Regardless of the constant change and uncertainty, you have worked tirelessly so we can thrive during these times. I see you and I see your wings! For our faculty, who continue to use your wings to challenge and push our students to be the best they can be, thank you! You inspire us, from learning that frogs’ lungs act like noise-cancelling headphones to using music to lift every voice.

I would like to pause as we say the names of those murdered during the Atlanta attacks:

  • Xiaojie Tan, 49
  • Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33
  • Daoyou Feng, 44
  • Paul Andre Michels, 54
  • Soon C. Park, 74
  • Hyun J. Grant, 51
  • Suncha Kim, 69
  • Yong A. Yue, 63

Derek Chauvin Trial Resources
Community of Lights. Starting March 22 and going through April 19, we will hold every Monday from 12 to 2 p.m. at The Pause as an opportunity for students, staff, and faculty to come together to heal, support each other, and never forget. We will have available paper bags and decorating materials so each person can create their own paper bag luminary. Each bag will be displayed during this period at Boe Chapel.

Understanding the Derek Chauvin Trial. As the trial develops, St. Olaf College is offering a webinar on March 25 at 3:30 p.m. Join Barry Cattadoris while he discusses the legal processes and what to expect in the weeks to come. You are encouraged to submit questions ahead of time here. Join us on Zoom.

For more information about resources and events — including conversation spaces, community care, self-care, healing, and opportunities to learn and understand the different components of the trial — visit this page on the Equity and Inclusion site. To submit additional events/activities/resources, email

Anti-Racism Training
In January and February, staff, faculty, and students participated in the “Building an Anti-Racist Campus Community” training led by the Washington Consulting Group. We recently surveyed students and have been compiling quantitative results. Click here to view the quantitative results. The qualitative data for staff, faculty, and students is still being synthesized, and I will share it as soon as we receive it. Thank you to the students who filled out the evaluation! Your voice is important and it will help us work on following steps. To learn and see more about the Anti-Racism Training visit the website.

Co-Creating an Inclusive Community
What a humbling experience this has been! Next week we start the training for facilitators who will lead the co-creating sessions in the months to come. I have been filled with excitement and gratitude by the number of staff, faculty, and students who have said “pick me!” Your enthusiasm and commitment to the next steps is powerful and will only make us stronger as a community. To learn more about the Co-Creating an Inclusive Community initiative visit the website.

Students’ Excellence
Did you have a chance to attend the virtual exhibition? If you haven’t, I highly recommend you do. The UPRISING art exhibit creates an opportunity to narrate and amplify the wings of Black students and faculty. It has been powerful to see how the dream of one student, Shaquille Brown ’19, became a movement and a community for Black artists. A shout-out to the powerful work of this year’s co-curators, Amanda Rose ’21 and Bridget Asamoah-Baffour ’21.

Big News
Did you see the wonderful news? Thanks to the generosity and commitment of anonymous donors, we received a $1.1 million gift to support our efforts on diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.



Dr. María C. Pabón Gautier
Interim Vice President for Equity and Inclusion
Director of the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion