This letter was published with the permission of the President’s Office.
November 2, 2020
Dear Women of Color House, Black Students Refusing Further Inaction, Black Student League, and networks of the BIPOC community who have contributed to the HC Strike 2020 Statement & Demands document:
I write with deep respect and admiration for the passion and hard work with which Haverford BIPOC students, and particularly the leadership groups Women of Color House, Black Students Refusing Further Inaction (BSRFI), and Black Student League, are pursuing a truly just and equitable society and systemic change at Haverford. The Senior Staff and I, and many people at Haverford, share the goal of making Haverford College a racially equitable institution, through visible and systemic institutional change, so that all BIPOC students, faculty, and staff can thrive. The Senior Staff and I see much overlap between the demands you have forwarded and our view of what can and will be done, whether immediately and in the near term, or as part of sustainable, long-term efforts. I will articulate those ongoing actions and efforts designed to yield real and tangible results in subsequent communications to the campus.
Specific responses to your letter of October 29, 2020, enumerated below, are also grounded in the College’s purpose to promote the personal and intellectual growth of students enrolled at Haverford, and to foster the pursuit of excellence and a sense of individual and collective responsibility.
The responses below include many acknowledgements of institutional failures and shortcomings, gaps which, over many years, students themselves have worked diligently and often unrewarded to fill. I cannot make amends for all the years of neglect of our BIPOC communities at Haverford, but I can make a commitment to effect change.
Together, let us find ways—through alignment and difference—to enact our shared purpose in having Haverford College leadership, faculty, staff, and students make structural, systemic, policy, practical and cultural changes so that all BIPOC students can thrive at Haverford and beyond, in lives of integrity and consequence. I am immersed in this work as president, as are the Board of Managers and the Haverford Corporation.
As you and our community reads our responses, below, I hope you will see therein a good faith and strong approach to meet you where you are, with substantive, tangible, immediate action.
To the extent that further work needs to be done before implementing any particular aspect of the list, Senior Staff members and I will collaborate in good faith with student groups, faculty, and staff— in and across relevant groups, departments, offices— to enact and embrace change that improves the Haverford educational and holistic student experience for BIPOC students. With the goal of racial equity, this work will build on common ground, and participants will work with and through difference to expand common ground. This will require focus, dedication, flexibility, and intentionality, which I will lead, as will faculty, staff, student, Board, and Corporation leaders.
I have invited you to a Zoom meeting with me and Senior Staff on Wednesday, November 4 at 2 p.m. The invitation came earlier today from Joan Wankmiller, as a follow-up to my email from yesterday. I look forward to being in conversation with you.
Wendy E. Raymond
I. We demand removal of President Raymond as “Chief of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”
I have publicly stated from the start that my role as chief diversity officer (CDO) was an interim measure for the first two years of my presidency because this was not envisioned or intended as a long-term approach. As president, I will convene by December 1 a CDO Advisory Group of students, faculty, and staff to recommend the best way forward for a CDO structure for Haverford. This will include budget and organizational support, and how to fill that role at Haverford, with the goal of appointing a new CDO effective no later than July 1, 2021. I invite students interested in collaborating to design the CDO Advisory Group to work with me directly on this process by filling out this form. Current protocols would turn to Academic Council to recommend faculty appointments, Staff Association Executive Committee to recommend staff appointments, and Students’ Council to recommend student appointments, in addition to any direct appointments that might be made.
II. We demand that you follow in the footsteps of Swarthmore College and cancel classes on Election Day and provide paid leave for college employees.
Responding to student initiative and demands, the faculty and the Staff Association Executive Committee both support the recommendation that Election Day 2020 be made into a paid holiday for all staff, with all classes canceled. The Senior Staff gave their full support. Hourly (non-exempt) staff who will work on Tuesday, November 3, will be paid “holiday pay,” as would be typical College practice for any hourly employee working on a paid holiday.
III. We demand academic leniency for BIPOC and/or FGLI students who are traumatized by the effects of COVID and constant police violence in their communities.
Many BIPOC and FGLI students have been disproportionately impacted by the traumatic effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, of repeated violence against Black and Brown bodies continuing and throughout US history, and of the political instability in our country. It is expected that deans and faculty consider these impacts while teaching and guiding students. I acknowledge that while there are formal systems at Haverford designed to provide close, individualized support for all students (e.g., Office of Academic Resources, peer tutoring, Writing Center, deans, ADS, CAPS, GRASE, Customs People, UCAs, the Chesick Scholars program, Horizons, etc.), some BIPOC and FGLI students’ experiences demonstrate that we can and do fall short of what is needed in practice. I will ask our Task Force on Retention & Persistence (discussed further in Section XI below) to devote a portion of its research work to learning more from these student experiences. Dean Joyce Bylander, Provost Linda Strong-Leek, and I will engage with faculty and deans on long-term structures as well as immediate efforts to create failsafe means of support for BIPOC and FGLI students. Some of this work has already begun within both the Dean’s Office and FAPC (Faculty Affairs and Planning Committee), focusing on reorganizations of support structures and changes to the language and resultant framework of CSSP, respectively. I know that some faculty are taking extraordinary measures to ensure that students are able to complete their work under extenuating circumstances. I applaud this and encourage all faculty and deans to likewise find creative avenues to student success at this time when BIPOC and FGLI students are experiencing the impacts of these ongoing traumas.
IV. We demand that the school encourage and protect student participation in supporting direct action.
The College supports students in living out their values with integrity. I want Haverford to be a place that encourages and supports students to act on their values in service of a more just world, and that includes through direct action.
There are many steps Haverford has taken and will take to support students’ engagement with surrounding communities, including West Philadelphia. As a non profit, educational institution, those investments often take the shape of civic engagement opportunities for students—curricular, co-curricular, or extra curricular—designed intentionally to have bilateral benefit to community organization partners. For example, building upon long-standing work by the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) and others, earlier this fall the College announced a new Philadelphia Justice and Equity fellows program for students made possible by a new endowed fund created by the Board and Corporation of Haverford College. I am interested to learn about opportunities students see to use specific “unused campus resources to directly support impacted communities in West Philadelphia”; direct payments by Haverford College to other not-for-profit organizations is not consistent with our own status as a not-for-profit institution with a mission to provide a liberal arts undergraduate education. While I understand the desire to have Haverford demonstrate its commitment to anti-racism through charitable contributions to worthwhile causes, this is not an avenue the College will take.
I affirm students’ right to protest as called by their consciences, and I understand that students undertake such acts knowing the risks that have been demonstrated around the country where white supremacist groups and police have escalated tensions and promoted—directly and indirectly—violent outcomes. As Dean Bylander and colleagues previously communicated, the College has been providing—and will continue to provide—necessary health-supporting measures for students who engage in protest, including COVID-19 testing and campus isolation spaces. There will be no disciplinary consequences from the College for students engaging in protests provided they meet the College’s health and safety guidelines, including the Travel Policy.
V. We demand the institution recognize and resolve that the increased surveillance and policing amongst students in regards to COVID-19 primarily affects students of color, who have always been more prominently surveilled by the campus community.
Disproportionate surveillance of BIPOC is a systemic and national injustice; I recognize that Haverford operates within this context. The College is committed to ensuring that its own processes are free from, and have zero tolerance for, bias and will investigate and follow up on any specific concerns and/or issues raised about surveillance or policing of the campus BIPOC community. Students may submit concerns or suggestions via their dean or, if they wish to remain anonymous, through the web-based tip line. The College does not currently have data that point to bias against BIPOC students within campus efforts to monitor and respond to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. This does not mean that we are free from such bias. I have asked my colleagues in the Operations Planning Group to evaluate and revise our monitoring and response systems around student health and safety so we will be better able to understand the extent and nature of any patterns of bias and then address them.
VI. We demand Haverford honor and credit the work of Black women driving institutional change instead of taking credit for their continued labor and erasing their contributions.
I wish always to give credit and am mindful of previous errors of omission, of co opting, and/or being perceived to co-opt others’ work. In this, I recognize the extraordinary efforts and commitment to antiracism on the part of Black women and Trans people across the Haverford community and pledge to be attentive and appropriately generous in acknowledging the work of others in all of our collaborations, and I will expect the same of my faculty and staff colleagues. The Libraries and Archives are actively working with the Multicultural Alumni Action Group (MAAG), Alumni Affairs, the community, and specifically with BIPOC student-colleagues to more fully illuminate the work of these individuals and, further, to correct and address absences where the records of that work are less evident.
VII. We demand that the school creates a framework to deal with problematic professors and generates spaces of accountability– the honor code is not enough and it never has been.
The relationship with faculty plays a critical role in student success. In order to ensure that Haverford is doing all it can to foster a climate of thriving, the provost is now reviewing faculty personnel and grievance systems, including the processes situated in the Dean’s Office and the Office of Human Resources. The provost will include Associate Provost Rob Manning in this work, as well as the Faculty Liaison for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Ben Le. These processes must be consistent, robust, and widely—and clearly—communicated. Given the requirements for faculty input via campus shared governance, the provost will provide an initial progress report no later than March 1, 2021.
The provost will work with Academic Council, Faculty Affairs and Planning Committee (FAPC), and others to provide support for both tenure-track and visiting BIPOC faculty. Haverford College has a robust program of faculty support that includes a pre-sabbatical leave for eligible tenure-track faculty, as well as generous resources for research. However, it is also true that many BIPOC faculty take on disproportionate “shadow service” in mentoring and advising BIPOC and FGLI students. Academic Council began conversations this fall about how such “shadow work” might be considered during the faculty review processes. The provost also commits to individual meetings with all tenure-track and visiting faculty to provide early opportunities for mentoring that may lead to the goal of greater retention of BIPOC faculty here at Haverford.
VIII. We demand that the school continue to pay the students who are participating in the strike.
Student workers who elect not to work will be eligible to receive up to 20 hours of compensation for scheduled but lost work; guidance to managers will be forthcoming from the Office of Human Resources about how to handle this payment and enter the compensation appropriately. Supervisors will accommodate students who choose not to work, with no questions asked. Further, the College will continue to pay additional compensation to all hourly employees who work overtime during the strike or otherwise, consistent with state and federal law.
IX. We demand that no student, staff or faculty partaking in the strike face financial, academic or professional retribution, or penalties of any kind.
In consideration of students engaging in the strike toward effecting productive change at Haverford, the College has taken steps to provide extra flexibility. This includes accommodating students who miss work shifts and compensating them for up to 20 hours (per the above). Professors have discretion about whether and how to accommodate striking students in their individual courses, understanding that faculty are responsible for delivering the education they and the College are committed to providing you this semester.
In acts of civil disobedience, individuals must and do make decisions of conscience and consequence. A community premised on trust, concern, and respect, is not premised on a framework of penalties or retribution. In the event that individuals fall short of our health, safety, educational, or other rules and guidelines, the College pursues remedies that seek to address the concern within a humane and restorative framework.
To underscore the spirit in which Haverford operates in times of disruption, I note that during the COVID-19 crisis, the College went to great lengths to support staff members, including continuous employment (i.e. no furloughs) even when specific jobs were significantly disrupted or impossible to fulfill. The College paid student workers who were unable to work through the Spring of 2020 because of forces beyond their control.
X. We demand that the Bi-Co stop its violence against disabled students.
Access & Disability Services (ADS), Facilities, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and other departments will be key partners in making tangible change in support of disabled students. ADS and Facilities conducted an accessibility deficiency survey of our campus and have been making annual investments in accessibility based on the survey’s recommendations. There is more work to be done. CAPS is constantly striving to be available and accessible to any who need treatment. For instance, as a result of changes made between last year and this year, CAPS currently does not have a wait list for students while having more sessions than we had at this time last year. There, too, more work remains to be done.
I will work with campus partners to improve support for disabled students including:
• Continuing the process above, Facilities and ADS will coordinate to make additional priority improvements to the physical accessibility of campus next year. The director of ADS welcomes student suggestions for specific improvements.
• CAPS will foreground the priority of reflecting our diverse student body in its current search for a senior CAPS staff member and in its ongoing selection of trainees.
• Pennsylvania licensing laws require CAPS staff to be ‘mandated reporters’ for issues involving child and elder abuse. CAPS also must report information if there is clear and present danger to self and/or others. Within these strictures, CAPS will only report when absolutely necessary and, whenever possible, with students’ consent.
• ADS considers each student’s history, experience, and accommodation request. While students are a vital source of information, some accommodations legally require documentation. If providing documentation is a financial hardship, ADS works with the student to help fund testing, if testing is necessary, and/or assist in finding a health care professional for an appointment/evaluation.
• Faculty are required to implement the accommodations identified in a student’s accommodation letter. If a student opts not to implement accommodations in a course, the student should notify the director of ADS immediately. If a student prefers not to speak directly with a professor on their own, ADS can assist in notifying professors of a student’s accommodations and/or meet with students and their professor to discuss accommodations. The provost, in her review of faculty personnel systems above, will ensure that there is accountability for faculty who provide inadequate attention to this responsibility.
• CAPS will review the use of Campus Safety during mental health emergencies and explore alternatives to ensure that students are able to access the on-call counseling services they need, in a safe way.
All of our campus partners are open to dialogue and committed to accountability and partnership. I have invited them to produce expanded documents about the concerns you have raised that they will make available to the campus community for fuller engagement of these important issues.
XI. We demand more robust aid and support for queer and trans students of color.
I share your concern about the experiences of LGBTQ+ students and BIPOC LGBTQ+ students. Last year, building off our learnings in the 2018-19 Clearness Committee’s report, I convened a Task Force on Retention and Persistence with leadership from Associate Director of Institutional Research Kevin Iglesias and Professors Matt McKeever and Ben Le. This group is undertaking a detailed study of student experiences especially among student cohorts identified by the Clearness Report, including BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students, in order to identify causes of student attrition and ways Haverford can better support thriving.
• Consistent with Section X above, CAPS will prioritize the identification of candidates with demonstrated successes in support of LGBTQ+ clients in its current and future hiring processes in order to better reflect the needs of the student body.
• In direct response to this request, we will immediately provide new, ongoing financial support to enable BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students to access therapeutic practices off campus with diverse professionals.
• Students must be able to identify and work with clinicians of their choosing and have that priority be supported by CAPS through its intake procedures. CAPS will explore the possibility of reserving specific hours for LGBTQ+ identified students and other strategies to ensure that CAPS meets LGBTQ+ students’ needs.
• The College will support students working through trauma. In cases when an accommodation is legally documented, it will fall under the framework discussed in Section X above. In other cases, the work I described in Section III above about mechanisms to support students’ academic work under extenuating circumstances will apply.
• This summer, our new BiCo Title IX Coordinator developed and implemented a new comprehensive Sexual Misconduct Policy that applies to students, faculty, and staff. This policy and the accompanying procedures provide multiple options for addressing and resolving complaints, including an alternative resolution option. The College is committed to equitable treatment for any community member who has experienced sexual misconduct or gender-based discrimination. Our BiCo Title IX Coordinator is available to meet with students to further understand concerns about policing.
XII. We Demand that the college terminate all relationships with the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD), and actively work toward police and prison abolition. The (college) will also divest, both in and of themselves, from any partnerships that may exist, with companies that rely on prison labor.
The College does not maintain a relationship with the Philadelphia Police Department.
The endowment has no direct investment in prison companies and does not seek to invest in such companies. Our Investment Office also performed a look-through analysis to the underlying holdings of investment funds in the endowment to determine any indirect exposure to prison companies. The endowment has no indirect exposure to prison companies based in the U.S. Underlying holdings of an international equity index fund, which is meant to provide broad exposure to all international equities and holds approximately 4,000 companies, results in effectively zero, or about 0.001%, exposure to internationally-based prison companies in the endowment. This exposure is due to the nature of index funds’ investment in all publicly-traded companies. The endowment maintains no actively-managed funds that seek to invest in such companies, as the College maintains open dialogues with investment managers regarding our condemnation of such investments. With respect to prison labor, the College does not invest directly in any companies at all and are unaware of any indirect exposure through investment funds; the Investment Office will continue to investigate how we can learn more.
Our Investment Office has been engaged with students interested in these issues and has already been in the process of completing a DEI and ESG survey of all investment managers in the endowment. Findings from this survey will be shared with the community through our annual endowment letter, which will be released by the end of November 2020 and discussed by the Investment Committee of the Board of Managers by December 15, to determine the impact of our investment policies with regard to these areas and to determine additional steps for further progress.