Open letter in support of Lewis & Clark Students by Lewis & Clark College Faculty

[Staff and other supporters are welcome to indicate their support for this effort in the comments.  We do not intend to exclude any member of our community, but we wanted a specific letter of support from the faculty.  This letter has been updated to reflect the wish by student organizers to be identified as Lewis & Clark students and not just as the Black Student Union.]

Friday, December 6, 2013

We, the undersigned faculty members at Lewis & Clark College, support the Lewis & Clark students' demand for more action to change the campus culture.  Given a series of incidences of egregious racial epithets and expressions of racism written on white boards in the dorms and other acts of vandalism against the posters for the Ray Warren Symposium on Race and Ethnic Studies and the Race Monologues, it is important for our community to respond.  

As scholars who are committed to the principles of a liberal education, our solidarity with the students is grounded in the realization that it is impossible to pursue the life of the mind in the face of threats against the integrity of one's being.  Vague statements against racism and for diversity are not enough. The students have outlined a series of demands to provide support for students of color dealing with these incidents of racism and to improve the climate on our campus.  While we may not have enough information yet to make a determination about each individual demand, we support the students' efforts to incite a conversation and push for action.

We would like to highlight the call by students to engage faculty in these discussions and to prepare the faculty to discuss issues related to race and racism in the classroom.  To this end, we would like to devote our Faculty Retreat in the fall to a discussion of how the faculty can help create a more welcoming atmosphere as well as to help students discuss issues of race and ethnicity in a productive manner.

[The demands of the Lewis & Clark students have been revised.  Here is the latest version]

Official Demands 

The following demands are not ranked in order of importance. Each one of them is essential to the process of building a truly diverse, cohesive, and safe environment. We hope that every member of the Lewis & Clark community - students, professors, staff members, administrators, alumni - will join us in this struggle.



a.      Revision and improvement of school policies on bias-related Incidents, hate speech and reinforcements of systematic oppression (i.e. racism, sexism, homophobia, trans*phobia, etc…). This includes clarification on potential outcomes for perpetrators, emphasis on effective education for perpetrators once found responsible, effective plans for support and outreach to victims, plans and obligations for community response, and more.


b.      Open forums with all members of the Lewis & Clark Community together (i.e. not separated as faculty, staff, and students) to talk about the incidents and discuss progress in tackling the issues. The College must consider the urgency of said events and organize these forums immediately after incidents are reported and investigated.


c.      All incidents should be disclosed barring violations of confidentiality requirements imposed by law. If perpetrators or victims opt not to reveal themselves, the nature or circumstances of these incidents (i.e. wording used, locations, etc…) should be made public to the Lewis & Clark community. Hate speech is a community issue. The College must consider the urgency of said events and organize these responses immediately after incidents are reported and investigated.


d.      The standard for all policies must be transparent and inclusive dialogue on the formulation and implementation of policies. The College and the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark must work together to resolve the long-standing communication issues of campus and allocate resources to more effective and complete communication and information dissemination. Assessment measures for the effectiveness of this communication should be established. This includes transparent and open channels of communication between all stakeholders and members of the community in carrying out these demands and actions.





a.      Cultural Competency training for students, faculty and staff at Lewis & Clark, is to be provided by the institution. This will require professional workshops and resources that should be funded by the Strategic Initiative Fund. These workshops should focus on dialogue so as to avoid being seen as “indoctrination,” and take advantage of the best available education technique. They should be available to all parties, but required of NSO leaders, NST leaders, RAs, members of student government, student life staff, and faculty in particular. Topics included should be interpersonal relations, deconstruction of prejudices and stereotypes, tools for talking across difference, fundamental theories of oppression and privilege, and similar issues. These are tools that are fundamentally useful to effective discussion-based learning and speak to the core of the liberal arts. Consideration should be given to implementing these trainings for all students during New Student Orientation.


b.      The College must take action towards breaking homogeneity in our academic curriculum. Not only does the school need to implement more authors of color into the Exploration & Discovery curriculum, it also must increase the availability and variety of courses regarding Non-Western countries & cultures in several departments, including, but not limited to: History, International Affairs, Political Science, and Theater.  We would like to emphasize the importance of focusing this inclusive change in curriculum that addresses contemporary social issues. For example, E&D could strive to feature work or literature from every continent, including indigenous and diaspora voices. This demands its own conversation between faculty, students, and other relevant stakeholders.


c.      Resources should be made available to students of color who are involved with performing arts (e.g. make up, lighting) by the Theatre, Music, and Art departments.


d.      Give importance to the search and hiring processing of  the director for Inclusion & Multicultural Engagement. (IME) Place emphasis on the search and employment of the director of IME with the accountability that it will be fulfilled prior to the Fall 2014 semester. If an interim director can be found within this time, we would appreciate it.



a.     Commitment to inclusion and diversity in our hiring practices should be reinforced. We need to employ a more diverse Campus Living staff team, health professionals, and counselors of color. Faculty searches should include a Diversity Advisory Board (DAB)  and should make an effort to attract more POC-candidates. The Diversity Advisory Board should be held accountable for the promotion and maintenance of diversity within the Lewis & Clark community. The committee should consist of faculty, staff, students and a member of administration.

b.      We want the school to make a long term investment in itself by changing its branding. Publicity and Communications (Pubcom) can utilize a strategy that promotes diversity and inclusion without hypocrisy. We want the institution to admit to imperfections and invite prospective students to join us in resolving them. Lewis & Clark can stand out among its peers by advertising itself as a “sandbox” for creative change makers. Marketing can take the form of an invitation: “The problems here are reflected in the world. Join us, strive to fix them here, and learn to fix them in the world.” We are looking to make Lewis & Clark the institution for inclusion and social engagement within the decade. Exploration, Discovery and Change.


[Names will be added as faculty sign on]


1) Elliott Young, Ethnic Studies, History

2) Juan Carlos Toledano, Ethnic Studies, Hispanic Studies

3) Freddy Vilches, Ethnic Studies, Hispanic Studies

4) Kundai Chirindo, Ethnic Studies, Rhetoric and Media Studies

5) Diana Leonard, Ethnic Studies, Psychology

6) Reiko Hillyer, Ethnic Studies, History

7) Kim Brodkin, Ethnic Studies, Gender Studies and Core

8) Oren Kosansky, Ethnic Studies and SOAN

9) Brian Sebok, Rhetoric and Media Studies

10) Wendy McLennan, Biology

11) Laura Mulas, Hispanic Studies

12) Jane Hunter, Ethnic Studies and History

13) John Callahan, Engish

14) Therese August, German Studies

15) Marianna Ritchey, Music and Core

16) Beth Szcezepanski, Music

17) Keith Dede, Chinese Studies

18) Peter Drake, Computer Science

19) Michael Olich, Theater

20) David Keyes, SOAN

21) Michael Johanson, Music

22) Deborah Heath, Ethnic Studies and SOAN

23) Derick Becker, IA

24) Rebecca Pyatkevich, Russian Studies

25) Sarah Warren, Ethnic Studies and SOAN

26) Matt Johnston, Art 

27) David Galaty, History and Core

28) Atsuko Kurogi, Japanese Studies

29) Tamily Weissman, Biology

30) Mindy Johnston, Music

31) Susan McBerry, Music

32) Bruce Podobnik, Ethnic Studies and SOAN

33) Kim Cameron-Dominguez, Ethnic Studies, SOAN and Core

34) Megan McDonald, Hispanic Studies

35) Jospeh Gantt, Rhetoric and Media Studies and Forensics

36) Sruthi Rothenfluch, Core

37) Daena Goldsmith, Rhetoric and Media Studies

38) Philippe Brand, French Studies

39) Greta Binford, Biology

40) Kabir Mansingh Heismath, SOAN

41) Lindsey Harness, Rhetoric an Media Studies

42) Cyrus Partovi, IA

43) Kellar Autumn, Biology

44) Nicole Aas-Rouxparis, French Studies

45) Mariela Rivas, Hispanic Studies

46) Marty Hart-Landsberg, Economics

47) Cari Coe, IA

48) Margot Black, Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning Center

49) Sepideh Bajrachaya, Ethnic Studies and SOAN

50) Mo Healy, History

51) Andrea Hibbard, English and Gender Studies

52) Barb Balko, Chemistry

53) Norma Velazquez-Ulloa, Biology

54) Mary Brooks, AES

55) Tom Schoeneman, Psychology

56) Yueping Zhang, Ethnic Studies and Psychology

57) Erik Nilsen, Psychology

58) Shannon O'Leary, Physics

59) Kathy Fitzgibbon, Music

60) Rich Peck, IA

61) Lance Inouye, Music

62) Amelia Wilcox, Psychology

63) Suzanne Groth, AES 

64) Jess Perlitz, Art

65) Jay Odenbaugh, Philosophy

66) Jerusha Detweiler-Bedell, Psychology

67) Natalie Stamper, Foreign Languages

68) Marie Eve Thiefault, French Studies

69) Jim Proctor, Environmental Studies

70) Ralph Drayton, Core

71) Molly Robinson-Kelly, French Studies

72) Clayton Morgareidge, Philosophy

73) Andrew Bernstein, History and East Asian Studies

74) Mark Duntley, Religious and Spiritual Life

75) Bianca Breland, Biology

76) Julio De Paula, Chemistry

77) Eric Tymoigne, Economics

78) Leah Gilbert, Political Science

79) Jerry Harp, English and Core

80) Janet Davidson, Psychology

81) Kristin Fujie, English

82) Jennifer Hubbert, SOAN

83) Joel Fisher, Art

84) David Keyes, SOAN

85) Jennifer LaBounty, Psychology

86) Brian Detweiler-Bedell, Psychology

87) Erica Harris, AES

88) Debra Beers, Art

89) Eddie Cushman, Philosophy and Core

90) Garrick Imatani, Art

91) Todd Watson, Psychology/Neuroscience

92) Michael Mirabile, English and Core

93) Susan Davis, Theater and Dance

94) Wendy Woodrich, Hispanic Studies