St. Olaf College | News

Equity and Inclusion Update

A yellow "Equity and Inclusion Update" image with black and white lettering.

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

Dear St. Olaf Community,

Happy July! I hope you are all doing well. Students, I hope this summer you have had a chance to find spaces of joy, love, care, and excellence — whether that’s by relaxing at home or doing research, internships, or planning for the future. Staff, I hope you have had a chance to slow down and enjoy your family, recover from a demanding and tough year, and, if you are back on campus, get energy from seeing your colleagues and the excitement of prospective Ole families. Faculty, I hope you have had the opportunity to focus on your scholarship, craft, projects, and, more importantly, on your loved ones while recovering from a difficult and challenging year.

These last few weeks, while doing initial analyses of the Co-Creating an Inclusive Community sessions and reading some of the challenges our staff and faculty faced, one of the ones that stood out to me was the experiences of our community members who have children. As most of you know, I am the mom of two young girls who are full of life, rambunctious, and keep me young while adding to my gray hair. This year, due to the pandemic and increase of racially motivated violence, I was faced with questions, experienced burnout and pain (while having to smile), and learned how to teach 4th grade math — all while trying to carve out some time to care for myself. I felt isolated because somehow I was supposed to know how to do this. After reading many of the comments from the staff and faculty who are parents, I now know that many of us were feeling the same way but felt like reaching out was imposing, not welcomed, and unique to our situation. Part of building an inclusive community is to create opportunities and spaces in our areas to check in with each other and practice radical empathy. Parents, I see you and know that you are still sometimes trying to keep your head above water. This is especially true when our roles as parents intersect with race, gender, disability, and income.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Last Friday, a federal judge ruled against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, meaning that new applications will not be processed. The DACA program prevents the deportation of thousands of immigrant people brought into the U.S. as children. This ruling leaves some members of our communities and/or their families feeling vulnerable and emotionally taxed. I want to reiterate President Anderson’s message from 2018: “The College will continue to support the members of our community who are or who feel vulnerable regarding their immigration status. If approached by immigration authorities or other law enforcement agencies and requested to provide personally identifiable information about any member of our community we will comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. That means that we will decline to cooperate unless we are required to do so under a subpoena or court order.”

If you are a student who has any concern about yourself and/or your family, please reach out to me ( or Norma Charlton ( from the Taylor Center. We have access and can connect you to resources and support.

Co-Creating an Inclusive Community Initiative
We have exciting news about our Co-Creating an Inclusive Community initiative! Please join me in welcoming Vice President of Human Resources Leslie Moore as one of the partners of this initiative. We know that many of the concerns raised by our community can only be addressed if we have an intentional partnership between the work of equity and inclusion and human resources. I am thankful to have Leslie as a colleague and excited to take a deep dive into this work.

We are spending this summer analyzing the data we have received from the Co-Creating sessions. Understanding the bias that can be introduced when analyzing qualitative data, we have two teams looking at it:

  • Associate Professor of Practice in Sociology/Anthropology Ryan Sheppard and four student research assistants — Gina Muetherthies, Kate Harpstead, Britta Bengston, and Liam DuPaul
  • The Co-Creating leadership team — Vice President for Mission Jo Beld, Leslie Moore, and myself

After the data analysis is complete in August, we will be working with the Council on Equity and Inclusion, President’s Leadership Team, academic deans and directors, professional staff directors, and students to determine next steps and actions. We will be able to address some of the recommendations (e.g., creating a flexible work environment) rather quickly, while others may need additional input and conversations in the community.

Opportunities for Development on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism (DEIA)
Engaging in the work of DEIA is ongoing, and we are never done learning. We can learn in many different ways — from attending a workshop to reading a book, having a conversation, or listening to a podcast (just to name a few). This past January the Martin Luther King Jr. Day planning committee curated resources to help with this learning. Today I would like to bring your attention to one of them. Code Switch is a podcast hosted by journalists of color that tackles the subject of race head-on. The podcast explores how race impacts every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, sports, and everything in between.  

Bias Report Update 

Total Reports*


Connected with the Reporting Party via email or conversation

Restorative Justice Process







*Reports are from August 2020 to July 2021
**Intakes are not done when a report is anonymous or request to not be contacted
***Reporting Parties: 51 students, 10 staff members, 17 Anonymous, 2 Faculty (the reason this total number is higher than the total number of reports is because some individuals reported and/or were involved in the same incident)
****Responding Parties: 14 students, 6 staff members, 6 Unknown, 31 Faculty



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