Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) and Institutional Research (IR) Eric Mayes has announced a series of changes that are going into effect during Fall Term and that will go into effect in the future, according to an email sent to the Lawrence community on Wednesday, Oct. 12. The changes include staffing changes, the launching of the LU Community Conversations Series, a campus climate survey and the introduction of the Peer Educators Program.
Lawrence’s staffing changes include the hiring of Catherine Lockhart as Administrative Coordinator for the Offices of DEI and IR and Haley Perkins as Institutional Research Fellow while Professor of Gender Studies Helen Boyd Kramer has taken on the role of Affinity Group Coordinator. Additionally, Title IX Coordinator Allison Vetter has announced her departure from Lawrence, and Senior Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fellow for Title IX Malika Chatterji will serve as Interim Title IX Coordinator until Vetter’s replacement is found.
Vetter commented that she is leaving for personal reasons unrelated to Lawrence.
Kramer said that her position was created to address the fact that a lot of diversity programming at Lawrence existed without institutional support. As Affinity Coordinator, they work with student-run diversity organizations, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and alumni. The ERGs are groups that exist to support faculty and staff from marginalized backgrounds at Lawrence.
“The more we do things, the more people realize what’s missing too,” Kramer said. “The ERGs are an important part of that.”
Kramer added that before their hiring, much of the work of the ERGs was done on a volunteer basis. Going forward, she hopes that the Department of Human Resources (HR) will play a part in this work.
Lawrence’s Community Conversations Series is being launched this year in order to bring the Lawrence community together to learn about and work to solve the issues facing the community and the nation. The theme of this year’s talks will be “Race, Racism and Justice” and the talks are open to the public.
The series began on Wednesday, Oct. 12, with a talk from Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Chris Barcelos from the University of Massachusetts Boston titled “What Do Abortion Bans and Transphobia Have to Do with White Supremacy? Everything.” The talk was hosted in collaboration with the Ethnic Studies Department and the Wellness Center.
Lawrence is also running a Campus Climate Survey, which started on Monday, Oct. 24 to measure the sense of belonging on the Lawrence campus. If 300 people complete the survey, the Department of Institutional Research will donate 50 cents per response to the Student Food Pantry in Memorial Hall. If the survey receives more than 600 responses, $1 per response will be donated.
Mayes added that the donation was intended as an incentive to encourage more community members to complete the survey, but that they plan on donating an amount of money to the food pantry regardless of whether the goal of 300 participants is met.
Lawrence is also accepting applications for the Peer Educators Program. According to Mayes’s email, the purpose of the program is to provide students with an opportunity to learn about and promote DEI awareness on campus. According to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fellow Nora Robinson, those who sign up for the program will be trained on topics including anti-racism and unconscious bias. What is learned in those programs will then be used to develop DEI trainings and workshops for various campus departments and organizations. Robinson added that some of these trainings and workshops will be mandatory while others will be able to be requested.
Robinson hopes that this program will be able to deepen the Lawrence community’s understanding of DEI while creating a safe space for people from different backgrounds to share their experiences.
“Creating this space will allow Lawrence students to think critically and reflectively about their beliefs and perspectives while gaining cultural awareness of those surrounding them,” Robinson said.