Author-Activists Tatum, Abdul-Jabbar Add to Latest Discussions of Diversity and Inclusion at F&M

Building on the extensive efforts of College leaders, faculty, students and professional staff during the 2015-16 academic year to encourage greater engagement and dialogue on issues of identity, race and inclusion, Franklin & Marshall plans another year full of events, programs and academic inquiry meant to further strengthen the bonds of community on campus.

Prominent among these will be the campuswide "Day of Dialogue" set for Oct. 5, when all classes and most administrative operations of the College will be suspended so that as many members of the campus community as possible can participate. There have been several important discussions already this fall. Donnell Butler '95, senior associate dean for planning and analysis of student outcomes, led an examination of "The Two F&Ms: Demography, Culture, Structure and the F&M Student Experience," while Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, the Charles Howard Candler professor of law and Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, presented "Islam and Secularism: What is an American Muslim?"

The "Gender and Race Politics of Beauty Pageants and Student Bodies in Higher Education" was placed under the microscope by Karen Tice, Ph.D., professor of gender and women's studies at the University of Kentucky, the evening before Sally Haslanger, Ph.D., Ford Professor of Philosophy and Women’s and Gender Studies in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT looked at "Racial Ideology and Racist Practices: Moving Beyond Critique?" during her Sept. 22 Common Hour talk.

Already more than a dozen campus organizations have been involved in supporting these and other ongoing efforts by the College to promote better cross-cultural understanding, including the Africana Studies Program, International Studies, the Mueller Endowment for Islamic Studies, the Departments of Philosophy and Religious Studies, the John Marshall Pre-Law Honor Society, the Muslim Students Association, the Sudan Institute for Research and Policy, the Alice Drum Women's Center and the Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, New College House, and the Humanistic Ideas, Vital Exchange (HIVE) Initiative.

F&M's Day of Dialogue will begin at 10 a.m. with former Spelman College president Beverly Tatum, Ph.D., joining F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield, Ph.D., in Mayser Center for a wide-ranging and energizing discussion of diversity issues. Dr. Tatum is a clinical psychologist and the author of "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" This dialogue will set many of the themes to be explored by students, faculty and other members of the community during the late morning and afternoon. Three concurrent sessions offering a variety of programs, from discussions groups, panels, and workshops to visual representations and artistic performances are scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. and 3:45 to 4:45 p.m.

Among the more than 30 breakout sessions scheduled are "Debate, Discourse and Dialogue: How to Argue with Everyone in Mind," "Race and Gender in Elections," "What Our Genes Tell Us About Race and Connectedness," "The Philosophy of Implicit Bias," "Women in Traditionally Male Dominated Fields," and "Latinx: New Meanings of Latinidad in the U.S."

An "Open Spaces" lunch from 12:45 to 2:15 p.m. will allow members of the community to explore unfamiliar places on campus while enjoying lunch put on by different student groups that traditionally use those spaces. Participants will have an opportunity to reflect on their perceptions and experiences of each space, as well as the chance to think about how they identify with different and intersecting groups on campus.

The day will conclude with a celebratory picnic dinner and tailgate party prior to the F&M women’s field hockey team’s home game at 7 p.m. at Tylus Field.

But, the campus community's collective conversation on diversity and inclusion won't end there. The next day, Oct. 6, F&M's 2016 Mueller Fellow, NBA legend-turned-best-selling author, cultural ambassador and political activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will speak on campus following the release of his latest book, "Writings on the Wall – A New Equality Beyond Black and White," which explores issues related to racism, economic equality, social injustice, the business of sports and the power of media.

Considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time, Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA's all-time leading scorer, a six-time NBA champion, and record 19-time NBA All-Star, making him – alongside the late boxing champion Muhammed Ali -- among the country's most prominent Muslim-Americans. Since retiring in 1989, he has turned his energies to a range of activities, most notably as a community activist, filmmaker, ambassador of education, occasional actor and author.

"I can do more than stuff a ball through a hoop," he is famous for saying. "My greatest asset is my mind."

A regular columnist for The Washington Post and Time magazine, "Writing on the Wall" is his 11th book.

Efforts in 2015-16 Promoting Diversity and Inclusiveness

"Diversity adds joy to life, enriches civilization, and draws us closer to the mystery of our common humanity," says President Daniel Porterfield. "We are all living the dialectic of sameness and difference in all of our relationships, throughout our entire lives. That is what it means to have an identity. And at the larger level, as the Mexican author Carlos Fuentes wrote, 'No culture thrives in isolation. Cultures thrive in dialogue, in contact, in breakthrough.'"

In joining the evolving national dialogue about race and inclusion on college campuses, about 400 Franklin & Marshall College students, faculty and professional staff members gathered in Mayser Gymnasium on Nov. 17, 2015, to discuss the importance of creating and sustaining a consistently inclusive and respectful culture at F&M. President Porterfield and other College and student leaders, spurred by student concern about cases of racial bias at F&M, convened the forum in order to hear thoughts, concerns and suggestions from students of diverse backgrounds.

"Franklin & Marshall must always think of itself as a national leader in dealing with issues that matter in our world," Porterfield told the assembly. "We are called to do great work here, and great work only can happen in an environment of trust, where each of us is respected and understood for who we are. Only then can we take the tremendous risks that are absolutely necessary for that great work to occur."

The Nov. 17 exchange set in motion a variety of activities, large and small, near-term and longer-range, but all meant to strengthen the community fabric on campus, demonstrate support for underrepresented students, and deepen ongoing discussions about diversity at F&M.

An array of action items emerged from those conversations and are being pursued in five principal areas: Co-Curricular Initiatives, Academics and Faculty, Building the Student Body of Tomorrow, Policies, Resources and Procedures, and Prominent Speakers and Events. Early steps include

Co-Curricular Initiatives:

  • In partnership with students, Dean of the College Margaret Hazlett and her team are leading a process to evaluate the space needs of several of our student groups. To begin, they are considering the options for prompt enhancements to some existing student spaces. President Porterfield already has identified some budget resources that can be used for renovations and improvements starting in summer 2016.
  • Under the leadership of Senior Associate Dean Maria Flores-Mills, a new focus on inclusion and diversity is being made part of New Student Orientation, to better engage all incoming students in reflecting on and nurturing F&M's diverse community.
  • Students from Diplomatic Congress, Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council and the Student Athletic Advisory Committee have held meetings to initiate development of interactive programming and dialogue—facilitated by an outside expert—about inclusion, power and privilege. These student groups are working to partner with others across campus to ensure that such programming will engage F&M's full student community.
  • The Diplomatic Congress has also created a committee on diversity that brings together students from a wide range of backgrounds who are eager to collaborate to help create a stronger campus community by facilitating more conversations about the value and dynamics of living and learning in a diverse community.
  • Each of F&M's five Colleges Houses now schedules regular discussions concerning race, ethnicity and inclusion. Leveraging diversity also has been made a point of focus of the 10-year review of the College House system being conducted in 2015-16.
  • During fall semester 2015, 14 Diversity Change Agents (DCAs) were selected from the Franklin & Marshall student body. Under the leadership of Marion Coleman, associate dean for multicultural affairs, and Xay Chongtua, associate director of multicultural affairs and College House operations, these students are being trained to conduct workshops covering nine areas of diversity: race, class, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identities, religion and nationality. The DCAs will then be available to respond to any campus group requesting these workshops, including student clubs, Greek organizations, College Houses, athletic teams and others. The DCAs' efforts respond to the calls of many students to bring together in new ways and for new conversations students of differing backgrounds.
  • Also led by Marion Coleman, associate dean for multicultural affairs, a new Promoting House Diversity (PHD) program provides student leaders with the opportunity to be a PHD  advocate. In this role, the students take responsibility for fostering multicultural learning and community in the College Houses, where every Franklin & Marshall student lives for at least two years. Responsibilities of House Diversity Advocates include advocating for multicultural awareness in their College Houses by planning events and activities focusing on diversity, and working with HDAs in other College Houses to address campuswide issues of diversity and multiculturalism. These students began their work by helping to design and implement the College's observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January 2016.

  • At the same time, President Porterfield and members of his senior leadership team have stepped up engagement with a range of student organizations in order to hear first-hand what is on students' minds.

Academics and Faculty:

  • Building on Franklin & Marshall's national leadership in recruiting an increasingly talented and diverse student body, Provost Joel Martin and faculty members from all corners of campus are collaborating to also make the College more intentional in its efforts to diversify its faculty and ensure continuing excellence in our classrooms.
  • In concert with the Faculty Council, Provost Martin has further charged the Committee on Fair Practices with researching and making recommendations about how the College might facilitate more reporting of incidents of harassment and invective based on identity.
  • In addition, the Provost's Advisory Committee on Faculty Diversity and Inclusion was created during summer 2015—also in collaboration with F&M's Faculty Council—to promote greater racial and ethnic diversity within the F&M faculty by helping to identify and recruit more faculty of color.  In this way, the College endeavors to add to the "robust exchange of ideas" that characterize the best institutions in higher education,  providing a wider and more varied exchange of ideas among faculty members and between faculty and students.
  • In December 2015, responding to student input about leveraging diversity in classrooms, the College made available funds for faculty members to develop a set of workshops on inclusive pedagogy. And in January 2016, 55 faculty and academic staff members returned early from winter break to participate in the first of these in-service seminars, in this case led by Dr. Stephen J. Quaye, associate professor in the Student Affairs in Higher Education Program at Miami University, Ohio. The goal of the workshops is to ensure that faculty and those who support the educational mission of the College are acting effectively both in and out of the classroom as our campus becomes more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, gender and sexual identity, regional and national origin, socioeconomic status, learning styles, and in other ways.
  • Organized by Franklin & Marshall faculty members who were, themselves, first-generation college students, the First Generation Allies initiative is designed to foster a community of support and encouragement for current first-generation students by offering faculty and professional staff who share similar backgrounds the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and provide guidance through the prism of timeless lessons learned. The group embraces the wide diversity found among "first-gens" in the community and works together with College leadership and other campus organizations to make F&M a place where first-generation students can learn and grow to their fullest potential.

  • Disturbed by the often abusive and inflammatory language found recently on anonymous social media sites popular among many college students -- Yik Yak, in particular -- faculty members at Franklin & Marshall College are responding with the creation of Fac Yak and Staff Yak. The combined vehicles are meant to provide faculty and professional staff at F&M an opportunity to express solidarity with F&M students who have been the targets of racist- and hate-filled comments online after indicating on social media their support of race-related protests at colleges and universities elsewhere across the country. The goal is to welcome all students with a unifying statement that there is no tolerance here for racist statements such as those recently posted on Yik Yak, and to reaffirm the College's commitment to its long-held values of diversity and inclusion.

Recruiting the Student Body of Tomorrow:

  • Inspired by President Porterfield, Franklin & Marshall's formulation of a distinctive student talent strategy built upon a significant expansion of the College's financial aid program has resulted not only in record-setting application numbers and increases in the academic profile, diversity, and selectivity of incoming classes, but also in greater visibility and public leadership for F&M. From the halls of the White House to the pages of some of the country's best-known and respected publications, Franklin & Marshall's talent strategy has earned a national reputation for "proving the possible" by expanding access and opportunity while also continuing to meet the full demonstrated need of every student we admit (and even driving down students' average debt at graduation by 21 percent in the past three years!).
  • To build on this early progress in recruiting a diverse and talented student body, the College has reaffirmed its commitment to increased investment in financial aid, which since 2011 has doubled to more than $46 million annually, and to sustain a higher average proportion of Pell Grant recipients, which for the last three entering classes has grown to 18 percent, up from a three-year average of 7 percent just five years ago.
  • F&M has expanded its role in hosting the Pennsylvania College Advising Corps (PCAC), which places recent college graduates as full-time advisers in  18 underserved, rural high schools serving some 5,400 students across the Keystone State. The goal of PCAC is to identify and assist students to make the transition from high school to a post-secondary institution. The advisers focus on low-income, first generation students.
  • With a generous grant from the Booth Ferris Foundation, the College launched and continues to support a faculty-led advising program to mentor first-generation college students as they adjust to the life and rigors of higher education.
  • The College also recently competed for and received a foundation grant that enables us to enroll more DREAM Act-eligible students.

Policies, Resources and Procedures:

  • The College has begun a comprehensive review of existing College policies that prohibit threatening and abusive behavior in order to ensure they appropriately address contemporary concepts, perceptions and definitions related to racial, cultural, gender and sexual identity.
  • To improve the College's ability to recruit professional staff with the knowledge, skills and experience to serve an increasingly diverse student body, Vice President for Finance and Administration Dave Proulx and Director of Human Resources Laura Fiore have been charged with setting new goals for professional staff development and developing any related training as necessary.
  • In order to enhance equity for female employees, the College plans a close examination of the recently completed Gender Climate Survey conducted by Professor of Sociology Carol J. Auster. The review will benefit from the participation of an accomplished scholar in the field, who will be invited to visit campus for that purpose.

Prominent Speakers and Events:

Together with students, the College is working to expand its already robust schedule of invited speakers to create additional opportunities to discuss topical as well as historical issues and events that relate to current considerations of diversity, inclusion, tolerance and social justice.

Major events currently scheduled for spring semester 2016 include:
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Observances, Jan. 16-18, campuswide: Student and faculty programming, including faculty reflections on Dr. King's legacy, as well as film screenings of "The Butler," readings of Dr. King's writings and speeches in Steinman College Center, and more.
  • Uncommon Hour, "What is Dr. King's Legacy Today?" Jan. 26, 11:30 a.m., Mayser Center: Faculty speakers Joe Clark, Visiting Assistant Professor of American Studies, Van Gosse, Associate Professor and Chair of History, and Carla Willard, Associate Professor of American Studies, will be joined by students Nadia Johnson '17, Cam Rutledge '16 and Robbie Suite '17 for a discussion of Dr. King's urgent call for radical change in America's priorities.
  • Lecture by Richard Lapchick, Feb. 2, 7 p.m., Roschel Performing Arts Center: Dr. Lapchick is a widely published author and internationally recognized expert on sports issues and racial equality. He is a regular columnist for and The Sports Business Journal and has appeared numerous times on ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, the CBS Evening News, CNN and ESPN as well as other news broadcasts.
  • Annual Hausman Lecture by Edwidge Danticat, Feb. 4, 8 p.m., Barshinger Concert Hall: Ms. Danticat is Haitian-American and a celebrated author and social activist. Three themes are prominent throughout much of her work: national identity, mother-daughter relationships, and diasporic politics.
  • Study Circles on Racism, beginning Feb. 5, noon-2 p.m., Seminar Room, Bonchek College House: In partnership with the Lancaster YWCA, Bonchek College House is hosting two five-week study circle discussion groups on racism. Trained facilitators will guide participants toward a common framework and language for identifying and challenging racism, ensuring that space is given for all voices. Sessions open to students, faculty and professional staff are scheduled on five consecutive Fridays, starting Feb. 5, from noon until 2 p.m. in the Bonchek College House seminar room. Students-only sessions will be held five consecutive Saturdays, beginning Feb. 6, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., also in the Bonchek College House seminar room.
  • "Race Relations at F&M: Now and Then," Feb. 9, 7 p.m., Ware College House: F&M Professor of Sociology Katherine McClelland, who together with students has studied race relations at F&M for a quarter-century, will present results from the 2014 Race Relations Survey on campus, conducted in collaboration with students in the Sociology Department's Research Methods class. Professor McClelland's presentation to be followed by a panel of student discussants.
  • Common Hour, "Hip Hop and the American Constitution: Race and Policing in the Post Civil Rights Era," Feb. 11, 11:30 a.m., Mayser Center: Donald F. Tibbs, Associate Professor of Law at Drexel University's Thomas R. Kline School of Law, facilitates an informed conversation about three issues central to American life: justice, equality, and violence.
  • "Power and (In)visibility: Mapping Transnational Narratives of Violence, Victimization, and Agency" by Elora Chowdury, Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m., Stahr Auditorium: Dr. Chowdury is Associate Professor and Chair of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a co-pricipal investigator of the Ford Foundation-funded study "Engaging Islam, Feminisms, Religiousities & Self-Determinations."
  • Common Hour Lecture, "Restorative Justice in our Backyard and the Quiet American Justice Revolution" by Christopher Fitz, Feb. 25, 11:30 a.m., Mayser Center: Fitz is the Executive Director of the Center for Community Peacemaking in Lancaster, which has offered restorative justice to more than 10,000 people in Lancaster County, both crime victims and offenders, since the organization was founded in 1994.
  • TEDx 2016, "Global Communities," March 3, 7 p.m., Green Room Theatre: Speakers include F&M Assistant Professor of Government Nina Kollars, whose research looks into the processes by which individuals and groups innovate and adapt when in high-stakes contexts with inadequate resources; Kristin V. Rehder, a documentary photographer and writer who explores concepts of community in places where she lives; Jack McGuire, former President and CEO of the American Red Cross and thought-leader on turnaround management; and Carlos Graupera, President of the Spanish American Civic Association since its founding in 1973.
  • Take Back the Night, with keynote speaker Opal Tometi, March 24, 7 p.m., Mayser Center: The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Ms. Tometi is the Executive Director at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Common Hour/Now Hour, "What Diversity Means in an Era of Colorblindness: Diversity Ideology in the 21st Century," March 31, 11:30 a.m., Mayser Center: David Embrick, Associate Professor of Sociology at Loyola University in Chicago is the scheduled speaker. His work examines the operationalization of the concept of "diversity" in institutional settings, from corporations to colleges and universities, with special focus on issues related to persistent inequities along the lines of race and gender.

An ongoing compilation of upcoming lectures, events and observances is found at the link below.

Upcoming Lectures, Events, and Observances

Calendar of Events

In addition to Common Hour, which enables the entire Franklin & Marshall community to gather once each week for culturally and academically enriching events and campus-wide dialogue, the College arranges an extensive schedule of other socially engaging and thought-provoking presentations, exhibits and performances each year.

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Conversations and Actions

Convinced that campus diversity is essential to realizing the goals of a quality college education, Franklin & Marshall has engaged in a broad range of activities to recruit underrepresented students and provide them with the resources and support necessary to achieve their full potential. We believe that creating an atmosphere conducive to multicultural learning enhances opportunities for personal, social, and moral growth and advances significantly the College's mission to foster in all of our students qualities of intellect, creativity, and character. 

F&M's "Recruiting Revolution"

Franklin & Marshall's efforts to increase college access and opportunity, including a move to more need-based aid and strategy of recruiting the highest-quality student body possible — or what The Washington Post calls F&M's "recruiting revolution" — represent a national model that "more colleges need to follow," says PBS' The NewsHour.

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Messages to the Community

An institution that values collaboration as well as community, the College has sought to address important issues related to diversity and inclusion with transparency, and in ways that invite all members of the F&Mily to participate. Click below to access a compilation of relevant messages to the F&M community.

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Pulse: Diversity

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