Diversity Awareness Education Policy Update

LCC Faculty Colleagues:
We are writing regarding the proposed policy requiring all LCC employees to participate in “Diversity Awareness Education,” a topic we’ve written about several times previously (see previous emails if you’ve missed them).  As you likely know, the College Council has been working on a policy that emanated in the Diversity Council, and last fall appointed a “Diversity Awareness Education Task Force” in October, with representatives from the Administration and each of the “stakeholder groups,” that was charged with bringing back to the College Council a proposed policy that all groups could support.  Attached you will find a copy of a proposed policy that the stakeholder reps (i.e., reps from the ASLCC, Faculty Council, LCCEA, and LCCEF) all supported this morning; it is now on the College Council’s agenda for a vote at its next meeting.  Please note, however, that the Administration and Manager reps did not attend this morning’s meeting, so it isn’t known if they will support the proposed policy.  But all other parties support the proposal (at least at a “can live with it” level), and it is our hope that the Administration will do so as well and we can then move on to the next stages of this work.

As you will hopefully see in the attached, the proposed policy seeks to balance the many interests and concerns of all parties involved in this discussion. For example, the proposed policy includes language that “all Lane Community College employees are required to continually develop their understanding of social inequities and differences …”, framing this “as part of their professional development goals and responsibilities” and providing that stakeholder representative groups, the Administration, and other interested groups are responsible for “identifying/providing/supporting” … “multiple opportunities” for employees to “choose from” to attend and participate, and that employees “will meet this … expectation by participating in activities in and outside” of LCC.  Each of these issues have been central to one or more of the Task Force reps, and each has been carefully crafted to meet that interest while not violating other interests.  The proposal includes a “Policy Note” that makes clear that the Administration and and Employee Workgroup Representatives (i.e., unions) shall, as necessary, negotiate the impact of this policy on employee groups, “including upon employee evaluation procedures, workload, compensation, employee participation, and program availability.”

Together, we hope the language will support a robust and powerful program that all benefit from, ensure that it avoids the fatal flaws of many “mandatory training programs” common in corporations and other non-academic institutions, and, of course, fully respects our contract and the role of the faculty in our professional development processes.

We will, of course, report on its status after the next College Council meeting (February 27th, 2-4 pm).  Please consider coming to the meeting to ensure that the faculty perspective on such matters is fully present; please also let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

One question several faculty members have asked has to do with the Board policy on this issue that President Spilde briefly reported on earlier this month.  The LCC Board policy was carefully revised by the Board to provide that it only directs the college President to “ensure” that an employee educational program is developed and employees participate in it, etc. They made this revision so that the policy development could/would occur within the governance process, not by Administration or Board fiat.  The Board policy does not establish an employee requirement, by itself; this requirement will be established, when, and only when, a college policy is established (and any related contractual matters are addressed, as noted in the “Policy Note”).

We have been asked about today’s college-wide meeting that was called by the Administration on Thursday.  Please know that this was NOT done either in coordination with the Task Force, or with any participation or even notice to the Association (we certainly would have provided more than one working day’s notice for such a meeting).  We do believe that the meeting may be organized in a way that is consistent with the attached proposed policy, and could be productive, since the reported intent is to begin discussing how such a program would be developed and work.  Of course, some topics would be inappropriate for the meeting to get into, as these are the legal bailiwick of the employee unions and the Administration (e.g. participation, “hours,” “accountability,” pay, impact on workload, etc), but we’re confident that these issues will be avoided or employees and their representatives will point this out.

Since the Administration called this meeting with so little notice, we are still establishing our Association representatives on the matter. Currently Nadia Raza will be representing the faculty (but unavailable for today’s meeting), and Marisa Hastie will represent Faculty Professional Development, which will have an important role in this work; please share your thoughts/hopes/concerns/questions about this work with Nadia, Marisa, and others to still be identified, and keep an eye out for future announcements of meetings to bring faculty together to discuss how best to move this work forward.

Finally, while much has been said about the faculty, and about the faculty (and classified) union during discussions about this proposed policy, and a fair amount of it has been less than kind and less than accurate, we note something that we noted in June 2013:  we were and are optimistic that we can and will develop a good and strong diversity education policy that would avoid the typical corporate, employer-provided “mandated training” framings, and instead provide a participatory, professional development-oriented policy that is respectful of faculty and other employee rights, while bringing us together to collaborate on this important work.  We remain hopeful that this proposed policy, and the upcoming work, will meet these goals and expectations.  We thank the ASLCC, Faculty Council, and especially the LCCEF for working collaboratively to develop a proposed policy that we can all support.

All for now,
Jim Salt
LCCEA President

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