Our Response to the Working Group's Recommendations

Greetings all,

On May 1st, the Working Group on Equity and Inclusion released their recommendations for the college, as part of their charge given to them by President David Anderson. At this release date, they also provided the St. Olaf community the opportunity to respond by May 15th.

Here is our response.


As per their charge from the president, the Working Group was to “identify barriers that exist to members of our community experiencing a consistent sense of belonging, and to recommend ways to eliminate those barriers.” The main issue we find with the release of this document is in reference to the latter part of this particular section of their charge is that the recommendations made do not directly “identify the barriers that exist to members of our community”. The recommendations themselves also raise more questions than solutions to addressing the institutional racism present at St. Olaf.


The Working Group divided their recommendations into sub-headings to cover a wide range. Within these sub-headings, there is a repetition of wanting the students to commit their efforts in creating change on campus. We acknowledge that there is a need for a change be done to the campus culture, but that is done through the implementation of changed policies and structures within the institution of St. Olaf. By changing those structures and policies currently in place, students and other community members will be able to enact those changes, thus producing a better culture and environment.

Beginning with the section titled “Climate and Community”, there is no explicitly stated “barrier” identified in this section, denoting a failure in achieving an important aspect of their charge. They focus on Admissions practices without noting which practices in place pose barriers in students partaking in the “St. Olaf experience” (pg 17). This section also fails to identify which students experience the unmentioned barriers, instead it focuses on “perceptions of ‘how’” students are admitted without addressing any specific Admissions practices to be changed.

This section calls into question why the recommendations focus on emphasizing the “importance on ‘why’” students’ admission is important to the community.This brings up the question of what Admissions will from here on be providing admitted students in order to explain this “why”, and what is the purpose of examining this “why” over examining Admissions recruitment practices.

The following subsection, “Sense of belonging”, repeatedly references “consistent onboarding and orientation” for new community members, without specifying a timeline defining this consistency. Will these efforts be a yearly orientation style, or an ongoing campus conversation?

What is particularly concerning about this subsection is found in the second bullet point, which calls for an assessment and enhancement of current pre-orientation and bridge programs designed to support underrepresented populations. By focusing on this particular group and considering expanding these types of programs for all who would fall under this umbrella, the recommendations runs the risk of further otherizing vulnerable student populations by explicitly singling them out to prepare them for an environment that is not designed for them. We recognize and affirm the TRiO SSS Bridge program and the positive effect it has on student adjustment to taking college courses, but we feel that this kind of effort in response to a problem like institutional racism is inappropriate. These programs highlight and attempt to mitigate the disparities in educational systems nationwide, and are not a program meant to prepare students in attending predominantly white institutions. It is the institution’s job to implement and reform policies to promote more racial equity. It is not a student’s job to provide this for themselves.

In addition, the Working Group wants to implement relationships of mentorship that will help minority students perform better. These types of relationships occur naturally and organically within the community already. If the Working Group is recommending these relationships be institutionalized, how will these efforts be funded and supported? How will the faculty be compensated and supported for their energies, considering the increasing numbers of “diverse students” and the stagnancy in the diversification of faculty? What is the specific vision for this kind of initiative, other than simply assigning students of color with faculty advisors of color? There are no methods of actions outlined within that recommendation.

Residence Life is the next bullet point within the subsection. Resident Assistants (RAs) and Junior Counselors(JCs) are essential leaders on campus, but there is currently not enough in place to help foster their leadership. There is a need for these groups to learn more about the phobias/-isms that exist in order to provide the leadership and “foster better understanding” (pg.19) similar to the program found at Earlham College. Without this proper support, they will not help foster this “sense of belonging”. Even though there is this want to implement a leadership role within this particular community, the Working Group recommends that the RAs and JCs to “make connections and friendships across difference” (pg.19)- we understand that dialogue is important, but to constantly appease the conservative voice on campus does not allow for that relationship to develop, instead it develops further repression.

The following bullet point relates to the Center for Multicultural and International Engagement (CMIE). We agree that there should be at least 3 full time staff members for the office to truly support student needs, as CMIE serves as a valuable resource for many in the St. Olaf community. We do hold concern regarding the grouping together of the Gender and Sexuality Office (GSO) and CMIE, as we believe both deserve separate and direct support as fully-funded offices on campus. The Gender and Sexuality Office deserves its own line of leadership to best fulfill its mission, which is different from the mission of CMIE. The integration of the GSO under the CMIE “cultural umbrella” (pg 19) serves to further place all students of “difference” into the same category, as if they all have the same needs. With the restructuring of CMIE, adequate attention should also be given to building up the GSO so it can serve as a proper resource for students on campus.

The final main bullet point of this section outlines what the Working Group describes as St. Olaf’s “Vibrant community”, which again provides no solid recommendation as to what should be done to “make events more accessible, and encourage greater participation from faculty, staff, and alumni” (pg 20).

The subsection “Sustainability” again reaffirms the Working Group’s commitment to attempting to enact “cultural change” on campus instead of institutional changes, which again fails to speak to the charge of identifying barriers students experience on campus.

With the header of “Sustainability”, the Working Group’s recommendations for sustainable change on campus are actually not quite sustainable. We agree that there is a need for a permanent group on campus to continuously investigate and challenge the institution’s current structures, but the make-up of the potential group includes members of the president’s leadership team, athletics, music, race and ethnic studies department (which is currently a program and not a department), students, faculty, staff, and alumni with the suggested option of including an outside expert. These members, according to the Working Group, will be “chosen for this work…to eliminate racism and enhance social justice at St. Olaf” (pg.22). That is a wonderful, potential charge, but which one of these members will have the experience and knowledge on making policy changes within the institution? Outside of the race and ethnic studies program representative, who else will have the knowledge and experience when it comes to institutional racism, systemic racism, and intersectionality?

The inclusion of outside expertise should not be a second suggestion, but rather should be an investment.The permanent group should be making proper, policy changes for the institution where institutional and systemic racism and intersectionality are highlighted, so that their strategic equity and inclusion plan can be properly implemented and differentiated from other strategic plans in place in other areas of the institution. We appreciate the want to make this group “transparent [and] collaborative”, but why will this process begin in the summer of 2018 when there are no students and other representatives of the campus to partake in this process? “Students members [will] join in the fall” because the “President and the Board of Regents chair [will] select the chair of the Council… and help recruit members” (pg.22); this is problematic because once again, we find ourselves in a similar situation on how the Working Group members were chosen. The want of transparency and collaboration calls upon a democratic election where the voices of the St. Olaf community is probably heard and acknowledged.

With the subsection of “Access and Inclusion”, the Working Group addresses similar sentiments found in the previous subsection of “Climate and Community”; they look at Admissions practices and make similar suggestions that we make in this letter, but the formation of this document seems to be too scattered where direct connections between suggestions are not being made.

One portion of this subsection that we would like to note is the end of “Student recruitment and retention”, it highlights the disparities among the demographic of students that study abroad. Some recognizable barriers not mentioned in the recommendations is the $100 fee for applying to abroad programs that is difficult for many students to cover, as well as the programs themselves. Resources should not only be “better marketed”, they should be better structured and implemented, so that students that need them have more access to study abroad programs, and the programs themselves should be analyzed and revisioned to ensure that the abroad opportunities offered by St. Olaf do not follow in the tradition of exotification of the countries traveled.

As part of our List of Demands, we demand better support for Faculty and Staff of color, and we are glad to see a similar suggestion within the Working Group’s Recommendations, but one of their focuses is on having the “faculty [undertake] work concerned with diversity and inclusion and/or developing new courses that explore matters related to equity and inclusion” (pg.26). We agree these topics are important, but there should also be a focus on having classes that cover race relations, exploration of white power/privilege, etc. Currently, some courses of the Race and Ethnic Studies Program are undergoing a pattern of high demand from the student body, but those demands are not being met due to inadequate funding. Having more faculty within this area of expertise will meet this demand and help further and foster conversations on campus that will produce this change within the campus culture, as well as provide more even distribution of labor so the same professors are not taking on the full brunt of this task. These ideas connect to the following subsection of “Scholarship and Learning”.

Within this subsection, we find suggestions for the curriculum, general education requirements, classroom environment, and student retention and graduation rates. Again, we believe that the Working Group should have developed a better relationship with the General Education (GE) Taskforce, but we hope to see that with this new, permanent group. The college undergoes the process of rethinking, relooking, and reestablishing the curriculum and and the general education requirements every twenty-five years- that process should be looked at and reexamined. The Working Group acknowledges the changes found within our society, but those changes are not met with how the general education requirements are examined. We agree with the Working Group’s recommendation of having the “College provide the resources required for departments and programs” (pg. 28), but as we had mentioned before the Race and Ethnics Studies Program is not being adequately funded. As part of our List of Demands, we address the need of mandatory, introductory courses in Race and Ethnic Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies which is similar to the Working Group’s recommendation, but their focus is on “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (pg.28). We understand for this need to be met within the classroom environment, but in order to tackle the issue of institutional racism there must be an acknowledgement of it within the classroom setting as well. The sole promotion of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” will not bring this naturally.

Within this same section, the Working Group calls upon the need of “faculty [being] culturally competent” (pg.29) which highlights another portion of our List of Demands. The College tried to meet this demand through the use of DiversityEdu and poorly advertised, follow-up, in-person sessions. As part of that demand, the students needed to partake within the training prior to registration, but we are not certain if the faculty or staff underwent that training. We hope that there is an implementation of a cultural competency training for everyone in the St. Olaf Community, but we hope that is does not come from DiversityEdu and that efforts to continue the conversation following the training are given adequate time and attention.

The final subsection of the Working Group’s recommendations highlights many of the main issues we find with the document as a whole. This section is the weakest of the entire document, as it takes the time to again highlight that the purpose of these recommendations and the language used are not those of directly addressing institutional racism, or even address the institution directly. Instead “the language of these recommendations- engagement, listening, welcome- is relational”, which misses the point of institutional racism completely and takes the burden of work off of the institution and places it upon students, urging them to simply live with and work with one another. This section lacks the assertiveness and urgency needed to prompt an institution into action, rather, it makes the mistake of portraying St. Olaf, the institution, as a neutral party in addressing issues of racism on campus, which is completely untrue.

Sustained Dialogue is a program lauded by many on campus as a useful and necessary resource for facilitating dialogue, and the Working Group mentions this program as a way of achieving their wish for “the formation of deep human relationships across barriers” (pg 30), yet this year we have seen the program effectively stifled and its content edited and clipped, with little, full institutional support. If following the Sustained Dialogue model is a recommendation, it should also be asserted that the model must be fully realized in its intended form in order to reach its full effectiveness on campus, as well as be officially supported by the school administration. As it stands, much of the work to pull together the initiative falls to a handful of students and a couple of staff members in varying departments on campus, which is an ineffective and unsustainable model.

The following bullet point regarding holding listening sessions further emphasizes the Working Group’s fixation on markedly not addressing the institution, asserting that “diversity, equity, and inclusion are relational issues”. We disagree. These issues can be relational to the extent that individuals can participate in the maintenance of disparities, but are ultimately issues of policy and structures and should be talked about and addressed as such.

The remainder of this subsection furthers this idea that the institution need not make immediate structure or policy changes, as the “Points of welcome” portion suggests that the challenges students face adjusting to the hill only occur in the first year, or that the issues that need to be addressed as simply the initial “welcome” students, faculty, and staff encounter during their first moments at St. Olaf. This fails to address the concerns brought up repeatedly, year after year, by older students, who these suggestions fail to acknowledge.

We feel that the document as a whole provides a vague selection of recommendations that call for very little critical, urgent, institutional change, and continues in the St. Olaf tradition of painting “diverse students” as different through the language used throughout the document, and depicting “diverse students” as ways to enrich other students’ experiences on campus.

We acknowledge that that the production of these vague recommendations comes with the vague term of “recommendation” itself and the very broad charge that the Working Group had during its seven month service, but The Collective for Change on the Hill will continue to push for institutional changes. We will continue to push the importance of institutional change since that is the way that the Working Group’s focus of a cultural, campus change will occur. The formation of the Collective was based on this charge, and we will not lose sight of it.



The Collective

5/1/18 Working Group Recommendations Released and STAR Collab

Hello all,

On May 1st, as per their charge, the Working Group released their “Report to the Community” outlining their recommendations to the college.

  • With this update, the community has the chance to submit their thoughts, comments, or suggestions on the recommendations through a feedback forum, which will be open until May 15th.
  • On the same day, President David Anderson sent out an email regarding the Working Group’s release of their update, announcing that he and his leadership team will be reviewing the recommendations as well as the comments on the forum.


On May 2nd, The Collective, in collaboration with STAR (SGA Task Force on Anti-Racism), held an event titled “One Year Later: What Now?” to reflect on where the movement for change started with the events of last school year, and what is still left to be done.

  • At the event, an alum of St. Olaf informed students of the efforts that a group of dedicated alumni are undertaking in order to provide support for the Race and Ethnic Studies Program on campus.
  • Professor Joan Hepburn gave an update as to an open letter regarding the Working Group and their recommendations that she has been working on, which can be read here.
  • The Collective gave a rundown of our extensive timeline, which outlines the events of the 2016-17 school year that precipitated the creation of the Collective, as ell as documents the events of the 2017-18 school year. This timeline can be viewed here

We ask that as many people as possible read the Working Group's recommendations and provide feedback on the form provided by the deadline, so that your voice and input are taken into account when President Anderson and his team decide on the next course of action. 

The Collective is currently working on releasing our own remarks regarding the document, which will be posted as soon as possible.


The Collective

Posted here is the latest update from the Working Group and the email from President Anderson:

Email from the Working Group 5/1/18

"Dear Members of the St. Olaf Community,

Over the past year, St. Olaf has been addressing issues of racism, bias, and exclusion on campus. Our Working Group on Equity and Inclusion has been a part of this process — listening to the community and developing recommendations to make St. Olaf a more inclusive and welcoming place for everyone.

We are pleased to submit our recommendations for long-term, effective, and sustainable solutions to create an inclusive campus culture at St. Olaf. You can read our full report here. This report is not intended to be the conclusive answer to racism, equity, and inclusion, but represents our best thinking given the current context. The work of equity and inclusion is ever-changing, and our recommendations suggest an approach that will allow St. Olaf to adapt and engage in new ideas, approaches, and mechanisms for our community’s worktoday and into the future.

The report has been released to President Anderson, the Board of Regents, and the St. Olaf community at the same time. We encourage you to provide your feedback directly to President Anderson and his leadership team. You can do so here.

We were humbled to chair the Working Group on Equity and Inclusion and are grateful to the members of the Working Group for their unwavering commitment to the process and their thoughtful input and perspectives. We also thank everyone in the community for their engagement with these issues.

The work of creating an inclusive and welcoming campus is complex, challenging, and nuanced. We hope that the recommendations outlined in this report help move St. Olaf beyond demographic diversity to true equity and inclusion.

Respectfully submitted,

Glenn Taylor '73 and Phil Milne '81

Chairs, Working Group on Equity and Inclusion"

Email from President David Anderson 5/1/18

"Dear Members of the St. Olaf Community,

Our college has been working to identify, acknowledge, and address policies and behaviors that stem from the systemic racism that lingers in American society and that results in an environment at St. Olaf that prevents our community from being consistently welcoming, inclusive, and equitable.

Eliminating the effects of racism requires not just changes in policies but also deep-seated changes in culture. Last fall I appointed a Working Group on Equity and Inclusion co-chaired by two members of the College’s Board of Regents, and with representation from students, faculty, staff, alumni, and experts from outside the College, to listen to the voices of our community and to examine what barriers there are to St. Olaf offering a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. I asked them to complete that work by May 1, 2018, and to recommend actions the College should take to eliminate those barriers.

The Working Group has today released its report, which the Working Group has shared with you. You can read it here. The President's Leadership Team will be studying its findings and recommendations in the coming days, and I invite you to do the same. Your comments or suggestions about the Working Group's recommendations are welcome and encouraged. I invite you to submit them here by May 15.

I extend my deep appreciation to every member of the Working Group, as well as to everyone who came forward to share their experiences, ideas, and suggestions with them.

After the comment period closes on May 15 and I have completed my review of the report and consulted with others, I will be in touch again with information about the next steps we will take in response to the report's recommendations.


David R. Anderson '74"

Stakeholder Meeting Followup 3/19

Greetings all,

On March 19th with the return of Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington to campus to deliver the annual Reeb Lecture, The Collective for Change on the Hill, President David Anderson, the summer Task Force on Institutional Racism, the Working Group, and Rev. Dr. Washington met to continue the conversation we started on February 23rd.

Following our first meeting, it became clear to us that there has been some confusion on the part of the Working Group as to what we mean when we say we want to address institutional racism, as it appears that their main focus has been on finding ways in which to enact campus-wide change through addressing campus culture.

After this last meeting, we hope that our conversation has helped some come to understand our position, as well as understand that current campus culture should not only be changed but challenged, in order to trace the issues we see to their roots to be addressed head-on to create a better St. Olaf for people of color on campus.

Posted here is the Update published by the Working Group on 4/21/18.


The Collective

"Dear St. Olaf Community,

Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington returned to campus Monday and Tuesday to meet with the Working Group and speak to the broader campus community.

On Monday, Dr. Washington spoke at chapel in the morning and as the 2018 James Reeb Memorial Speaker in the afternoon. His lecture “Social Justice 2018: The Work Continues …” centered on the idea of building an institution’s capacity to engage injustice and create more inclusive, equitable communities. We encourage you to watch the lectures linked above.

Dr. Washington then facilitated a second conversation with members of the Working Group, the Collective, the Task Force, and President Anderson. The goal of the conversation was to continue to have authentic, open conversations with the students and faculty/staff members who initially brought these issues forward. We are grateful for their leadership in elevating issues of racism, diversity, and inclusion to the highest level at the college.

On Tuesday, the Working Group met to discuss our initial recommendations for our report. Our recommendations are focused on providing greater accountability, intentionality, alignment, and sustainability for work in equity and inclusion across the college. We began considering recommendations in the areas of access and inclusion, climate and community, scholarship and learning, institutional commitment, and sustainability.

We look forward to further engaging with the community on recommendations in these strategy areas, including participating in a student forum the first week in April. Details will be shared as soon as they are available.

Respectfully submitted,

Glenn Taylor ’73 and Phil Milne ’81
Chairs, Working Group on Equity and Inclusion"

3/7/18 Community Rebuilding

On March 7th, 2018, The Collective for Change on the Hill collaborated with the Student Government Association's Task Force on Anti-Racism (STAR) to begin a monthly series titled "Community Rebuild". 

The purpose of this series of discussions and workshops is to provide a space for people of color on campus (students, faculty, staff) to brainstorm and collaborate ways to strengthen the POC community on campus in a self-sustainable way. 

Although the first Community Rebuilding event was led by The Collective, the project is sponsored by STAR and will hereafter be by headed by this initiative. 



The Collective

Stakeholder Meeting 2/23

Hello all,

On February 23rd, we met with the Working Group, the summer Task Force on Institutional Racism, and President David Anderson in a conversation facilitated by consultant Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington. This meeting was the first coordinated effort in which all of these groups were gathered to discuss the issues pertaining to the work that is to be done as well as to address the existing tensions among us. 

Posted here is the update released by the Working Group about the meeting (posted on March 1st). 

We will be meeting again with the same members when Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington returns to campus in mid-March. 


The Collective


Dear St. Olaf Community,

Last Friday, Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington facilitated an important conversation with members of the Working Group, the Collective, the Task Force, and President Anderson.

After his initial visit to campus in January, Dr. Washington felt that it was critical to bring this group of stakeholders together to create a space for deep, authentic conversations; to begin the process of building trust and real relationships; to explore where we have been, where we are, and where we want to be; and to share hoped for outcomes to move this effort forward.

At the beginning of the meeting, each participant was given the opportunity to share what was on their mind and in their hearts about the past, present, and future of inclusion at St. Olaf. The group acknowledged the historical challenges and frustrations with campus climate issues associated with civility, bigotry, and systemic racism. Over time, these factors have eroded the level of trust and transparency among and between various communities on campus and their relationship with the college’s leadership.

Participants sought deeper engagement with race and racism at the interpersonal and institutional levels. A common fear among all stakeholders around the table was that the movement was stalling and that we as a whole won’t make lasting change.

As a Working Group, we know that increased training and changing policies aren’t enough. We need to change the culture on campus to create an environment where all of us thrive. Our recommendations will strive to accomplish this with both short-term and long-term efforts.

We appreciate the willingness of all stakeholders to be vulnerable and open in our meeting. We plan to convene this group again to continue our important conversations when Dr. Washington returns to campus on March 20.

In addition to this meeting, Dr. Washington and the Working Group also met with other stakeholders on campus during the day on Friday to help move forward the efforts of the Working Group. Stakeholders included:

  • President’s Leadership Team (Dr. Washington only)
  • President Anderson (Dr. Washington and Working Group)
  • Race and Ethnic Studies Director Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Professor Jon Naito, and Professor Lisa Moore (Working Group only)

From all of us on the Working Group, thank you for your continued interest in and feedback on our work. Your participation and support are crucial to our success.

Respectfully submitted,

Glenn Taylor ’73 and Phil Milne ’81
Chairs, Working Group on Equity and Inclusion

Collective Update- Working Group Meetings

Last week, we met with a few members of the Working Group so that we can begin the process of creating an actual line of communication between the two groups. We saw it as an overdue first step, but we are appreciative that the Working Group has realized that in order to create change on campus it is imperative that a communicative relationship is maintained. This relationship will continue to hold administration accountable and highlight the importance of transparency.

During the meeting on Monday, both parties agreed that change on campus is necessary, and we acknowledged it'll be a slow process, but in order for that process to begin there is a need for the Collective and St. Olaf community to thoroughly understand how the Working Group, as a whole, is committed in ensuring that this process continues, and that it does not stop after the recommendations are released on May 1st. 

We will be meeting with the Working Group, Task Force, and consultant Jamie Washington this Friday (2/23) to begin the first of these conversations.  

Working Group Update: 1/30/18

On January 30th, the Working Group’s update announced that they had met with the Dean of Students and Provost.

Dear St. Olaf Community,

Yesterday the Working Group on Equity and Inclusion met with Provost Marci Sortor and Dean of Students Roz Eaton, both of whom implement diversity and inclusion efforts. We entered the meetings with several questions and came out encouraged by the care and attention they are putting to fight racism at St. Olaf. We believe that everyone has a role to play in creating a welcoming campus community, and our challenge as a Working Group is to help guide these efforts and recommend areas of improvement.

We first talked to Provost Sortor, who oversees all faculty members as well as the college’s curriculum. She shared several related efforts that are already underway:

  • The General Education Task Force is reviewing the college’s general education requirements. There could be opportunities to better weave elements of diversity and equity into these requirements, especially in first-year courses.
  • Faculty recruitment processes seek applicants with both academic expertise and emotional IQ.
  • The To Include is To Excel grant provides opportunities to review our curriculum in light of how our diverse student body engages with that knowledge, as well as examine faculty and staff development opportunities.

We next spoke with Dean Eaton, who oversees student life on campus. She reflected on this spring’s protest and shared several interesting insights about the work ahead:

  • Dean Eaton is working closely with the Student Government Association, which has prioritized race and inclusion as an issue they want to continue to focus on this academic year.
  • She has received feedback that the community would like to have more conversations about race and racism in the classroom, at residence halls, and throughout the campus.
  • She is working to improve Week One, the first-year orientation program, to better prepare students for school and life on a residential liberal arts campus. Done right, Week One could help create a common experience and starting point for people of all backgrounds.

At the end of each meeting, the Working Group shared with Provost Sortor and Dean Eaton that the issue of racism and diversity has been elevated to the highest level. As co-chairs and members of the Board of Regents, we are here to eliminate barriers at the institutional level to ensure that we create a more inclusive campus. This issue is so fundamentally important to the college that we plan to continue to engage with this issue at the board level well beyond the tenure of the Working Group.

Respectfully submitted,

Glenn Taylor ’73 and Phil Milne ’81
Chairs, Working Group on Equity and Inclusion

Working Group Update: 1/26/18

On January 26th, the Working Group released another update stating that they intend to meet with the Dean of Students and Provost, and plan to meet with the Regents when they are on campus. They also announced that Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington would be returning to campus on February 23rd.

Dear St. Olaf Community,

The Working Group on Equity and Inclusion is continuing to meet and learn from campus leadership. On our conference call today, we prepared for meetings next week with Dean of Students Roz Eaton and Provost Marci Sortor. We are also planning to brief the Board of Regents during their meeting next week and seek their feedback. Next month, Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington will return to campus. Preparations are underway to make productive use of his visit on February 23.

We have received the results of the Campus Living, Learning, and Working Environment (CLLWE) survey that was administered to St. Olaf students, faculty, and staff in November and December 2017. Here are links to the executive summary and full survey results. While the results provide some insight, the Working Group recognizes that many in our community felt that the survey tool itself was problematic in the way it framed questions about incidents of discrimination. We interpret these results with caution and know that statistics alone cannot accurately reflect the lived experiences of racism and discrimination. This survey and the critical feedback we received in response to it are just one of many data points the Working Group will consider as we focus on developing solutions to create a more inclusive campus climate at St. Olaf.

Respectfully submitted,

Glenn Taylor ’73 and Phil Milne ’81
Chairs, Working Group on Equity and Inclusion

Working Group Update: 1/5/18

On January 5th, the Working Group’s published and update stating that they held a conference call with Rev. Dr. Washington and held listening sessions with representatives from CMIE (Center for Multicultural and International Engagement), Admissions, and Athletics.

Dear St. Olaf Community,

The Working Group on Equity and Inclusion gathered on campus this Thursday, January 4, for a meeting that spanned much of the day. It was an extremely productive gathering, and we are grateful for everyone who continues to invest significant time and energy in this important work.

We began our meeting by looking at best practices at other colleges. While the recommendations that we develop will be specific to St. Olaf, it is invaluable for our group to have an understanding of the work that is taking place on campuses across the nation.

We also received a preliminary update on the campus climate survey that the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) administered on behalf of the Working Group this fall. More than 25 percent of the St. Olaf community participated in the survey, which is the highest response rate among the five schools that HEDS administered this survey to this cycle. We are cross-referencing this data with the data that was collected by students in Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Ryan Sheppard’s class this fall as part of their research on racial microaggressions in the classroom. As soon as this work is completed, we will release it publicly.

We then held a video conference call with Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington, the highly respected expert in multicultural organizational development that the Working Group has retained. He shared a number of insights that he has gained in working with colleges across the country on issues of diversity and inclusion. In addition to his own experience as a faculty member, Rev. Dr. Washington has spent time helping both corporate and nonprofit organizations work toward long-term, sustainable cultural change. As part of his first visit to campus on January 17 and 18, we will arrange meetings for Rev. Dr. Washington with students and stakeholders on campus.

After our discussion with Rev. Dr. Washington, we held listening sessions with representatives from St. Olaf Admissions, the Center for Multicultural and International Engagement (CMIE), and Athletics. In each of these listening sessions, we reviewed the college’s current practices, asked for historical data, and discussed both college practices that have worked well and those that need to be improved. These sessions were helpful in giving all of us an understanding of how specific offices have approached equity and inclusion efforts over time. We plan to continue these listening sessions with the campus community in the coming months. Throughout this process, we encourage and ask for feedback to be submitted to the Working Group here.

The Working Group will convene again via conference call on January 12 and will meet on campus again on January 18. At that meeting, the Working Group will meet in person with Rev. Dr. Washington to review what he’s learned through initial discussions with campus stakeholders.

From all of us on the Working Group, thank you for your continued interest in and feedback on our work. We have a significant task ahead of us in the coming months, and your participation and support is crucial to our success.

Respectfully submitted,

Glenn Taylor ’73 and Phil Milne ’81
Chairs, Working Group on Equity and Inclusion

Working Group Update: 12/22/17

On December 22nd, the Working Group announced the consultant that they will be retaining to advise them is Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington of The Washington Consulting Group. They also announced that Rev. Dr. Washington would be visiting campus on January 17th and 18th to meet with various groups on campus.

Dear St. Olaf Community,

The Working Group on Equity and Inclusion met via conference call this morning. We are grateful that the members of the Working Group prioritize coming together regularly. The magnitude and importance of our charge cannot be overstated, and we are encouraged by the members’ commitment to giving this work the time and attention it deserves.

Impacting real change and building a more equitable, inclusive campus community at St. Olaf will require the input and commitment of many people. Throughout this process, we encourage and ask for feedback to be submitted to the Working Group here. We will also continue to provide opportunities for input from students, faculty, staff, and other members of our community.

We are excited to announce that Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington has been retained to assist the Working Group. Rev. Dr. Washington is a highly respected expert in multicultural organizational development. He has served as an educator, administrator, and consultant in higher education for more than 30 years. He serves on the boards of Many Voices, a black church movement for LGBT persons, as well as Campus Pride and Beyond Diversity. Rev. Dr. Washington will visit campus multiple times, beginning with a visit January 17 and 18 to meet with various constituencies as well as the Working Group.

The Working Group’s next meeting will take place in person on January 4, 2018. At that meeting, the Working Group will have a conference call with Rev. Dr. Washington and will focus on the tools and preparation we need in order to have effective engagement with on-campus groups in the coming months.

From all of us on the Working Group, thank you for your continued interest in and feedback on our work. We wish you a joyous holiday season, and are looking forward to many productive and meaningful conversations in the new year.

Respectfully submitted,

Glenn Taylor ’73 and Phil Milne ’81
Chairs, Working Group on Equity and Inclusion

Working Group Update 12/15/17

On December 15th, the Working Group released an update that detailed a conference call they held that day. The update stated that the Working Group would be searching for an outside consultant to visit campus in mid-January to meet with students, faculty, and staff. The email is as follows:

Dear St. Olaf Community,

The St. Olaf Working Group on Equity and Inclusion held a conference call meeting on December 15. In addition to meeting in person each month, the group has agreed to hold a weekly conference call in order to keep this important work moving forward.

On this call, members provided several important updates:

Consultant Search
Bruce King and Donna Lee have been working to identify a consultant to assist the Working Group. They have narrowed the list, and all Working Group members agreed to move forward with retaining the consultant that Bruce and Donna recommended. Bruce and Donna will continue making arrangements, and it’s expected that the consultant selected will visit campus in mid-January to meet with students, faculty, and staff. The Working Group will provide more information on the consultant as soon as these arrangements have been finalized.

Student Research on Racial Microaggressions in the Classroom and Curriculum
Katie Fick, Phil Milne, and Bruce King shared what they learned at a student research presentation on December 13 titled Racial Microaggressions in the Classroom and Curriculum: Student Experiences and Perspectives. Students in Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Ryan Sheppard’s class conducted research on racial microaggressions in the classroom throughout the course of the semester on behalf of the To Include is To Excel initiative. The student researchers examined survey responses from more than 700 St. Olaf students and outlined a number of key takeaways. Katie, Phil, and Bruce all agreed that the information presented was insightful, powerful, and will be useful for the Working Group to examine and consider as it moves forward. They have requested all the presentation information to share with other members of the Working Group. On behalf of the entire Working Group, they offer their thanks to the faculty directors of the To Include is To Excel project, Mary Carlsen and Maggie Broner, for the invitation to the research presentation, and their congratulations to Ryan Sheppard and her students on their excellent work.

The Working Group’s next meeting will be another conference call on Friday, December 22. As always, we are grateful for the commitment of every member of the group and the time they continue to invest each day in this important work. We are also grateful for the support we have received from the St. Olaf community, and we look forward to continuing to hear from and work with you.

Respectfully submitted,

Glenn Taylor ’73 and Phil Milne ’81
Chairs, Working Group on Equity and Inclusion

DiversityEdu Poster Making Session

DiversityEdu Poster Making Session

On November 13, 2017, we held a poster making session surrounding the concerns about DiversityEdu. Here is the turnout from our event. All images can be found on our Facebook Page. We have sent these images to Glenn Taylor ’73 and Phil Milne ’81 of the Working Group, who have yet to respond.


Our Stance: DiversityEdu

Hello All, 

This fall St. Olaf College made an effort to educate the St. Olaf community on diversity and inclusivity with an online module called DiversityEdu which was mandatory for all students in order to register for interim and spring semester classes. This was a direct response to Article I Section B of The List of Demands:

We demand the implementation of an equivalent and mandatory racial and cultural sensitivity training session similar to the Think About It and Bystander Training that is enforced on Week One for all incoming first-years. This training would be conducted in person and online. The completion of the online portion will determine student’s accessibility to registration. This needs to be implemented by the Fall of 2019.

While this was an online module that taught about diversity, inclusivity, subconscious bias, and microaggressions, it never acknowledged the existence of overt racism, institutional racism, systematic racism or specifically racial and cultural sensitivity.

St. Olaf College did have a campus-wide follow up for DiversityEdu with four dialogue sessions that were facilitated by Inclusivity Advocates, an Area Coordinator, and staff from the Dean of Students Office. However, students were not required to attend the four dialogue sessions, nor were they given adequate notification time, which lead to the attendance of less than 10 students at each session.

We are calling all students to join us in expressing your feelings about the shortcomings of DiversityEdu. Monday, November 13th, 2017 starting at 10:00am in Buntrock Commons we will all be coming together to make posters. This is a chance to use your voice to bring awareness and impact institutional change. We will be showcasing your posters all around Buntrock Commons. This will be a day-long event, so drop by at any time to get your voice heard.

We will see you Monday!


Update: #inSTOtutional Racism Exists

Hello All,

On September 25th, President David Anderson released an email detailing the list of members they chose for their working group, entitled “Working Group on Equity and Inclusion”. The email is as follows:

“Dear Oles,

I am pleased to announce the next step forward in our continuing efforts to ensure a welcoming and inclusive community at St. Olaf: the appointment of a Working Group on Equity and Inclusion.  I am pleased that the Task Force that met this summer agreed that this was a necessary next step.

The membership of the Working Group is shown below.  Co-chaired by two members of our Board of Regents, the charge of the Working Group is to:

Conduct a comprehensive review of the way persons from underrepresented groups experience life at St. Olaf with an eye to identifying the reasons why they experience it in this way.

Assess the overall climate of the College as it relates to the full participation and inclusion of underrepresented members of our community, ensuring that diverse backgrounds and perspectives are included, and voices of all are heard.

Identify barriers that exist to members of our community experiencing a consistent sense of belonging and to recommend ways to eliminate those barriers.

Consider best practices of other colleges and universities as they relate to access, equity, and inclusion.

Provide informed and specific recommendations to the President by May 1, 2018.

I have asked the Working Group to be inclusive in reaching out to members of the community for input, to be generous in its communication about its activities and progress, and to be fearless in its analysis and judgments. I thank them in advance for the work they will do.

Our other efforts to support inclusiveness won’t halt while the Working Group is doing its work. The “To Include is to Excel” initiative, new training opportunities for members of our community, and continued emphasis on recruiting diverse students, faculty, and staff to St. Olaf are three examples of the ongoing work.

This is an important moment in the life of our college. We are provided with the opportunity to look deeply into ourselves as individuals and as an institution to discern how we can create and sustain a welcoming and inclusive environment and then to commit to doing and sustaining that work.

David Anderson ‘74


The members of the working group are as follows:

Glenn Taylor '73 - A St. Olaf Regent and co-chair of the Working Group. He is a retired healthcare executive who lives in Libertyville, Illinois.

hil Milne '81 - A St. Olaf Regent and co-chair of the Working Group. He is the owner of the Rapid Packaging company and lives in Wayzata, Minnesota.

Mary Barbosa - Jerez serves as the head of strategy for library collections and archives at St. Olaf.

Katherine Fick is the associate college pastor at St. Olaf, and she plays a central role in nurturing the college's values and supporting the health and well-being of the community.

Bruce King is the assistant to the president for institutional diversity and chief diversity officer at St. Olaf.

Donna Lee is Macalester College's vice president for student affairs. She has presented numerous workshops on topics related to diversity, leadership, organizational development, and community engagement.

David Merchant '77 is an attorney based in the Twin Cities who has dedicated much of his life to working on civil rights, racial equality, and justice for all.    

Mario Paez '01 is a vice president in the Wells Fargo Insurance Services' Professional Risk Group and lives in St. Paul. He is a member of the St. Olaf Alumni Board.

Anantanand Rambachan is a professor of religion at St. Olaf and a renowned Hindu scholar who has been involved in the field of interreligious relations and dialogue for over 25 years.

There are also two students on the working group, one domestic and one international. Both are students of color of the class of 2020.


Our Stance: #inSTOtutional Racism Exists

The charges that the PLT’s working group are tasked with addressing allows the institution to avoid conversations about the existence of institutional racism that has time and time again been proven to exist at St. Olaf. The institutional racism that St. Olaf continues to perpetuate has been proven through multiple reports from independent parties across decades.

Not only does this proposed Working Group focus, yet again, on proving that students of color face race-specific challenges at this institution, it presents a lack of urgency in the assumption that we will wait until May for mere suggestions on how to address this. While we wait on the Working Group to deliberate, we are still experiencing injustice. The time is over for contemplation and recommendations. It is time for action.

How can the college community expect this Working Group to be "fearless in its analysis and judgments" when the college won't even respond to the recommendations of the Task Force on Institutional Racism?

It is time for the institution to engage in the very “dialogue” that it holds in such high regard.

Where is the dialogue, when those in power repeatedly exclude the voices of those affected from the conversation? The “voices of all” are not heard. This Working Group includes only two students, yet it is to address racism and concerns that would affect student life. Two students, selected by a process unknown to said students they are to represent, are not enough.

It is time for this conversation to leave the closed door practices favored by administration, and engage with the greater St. Olaf community. This includes students, faculty, staff and alumni.

It is time for administration to be transparent. It is time for the College to put a name to what we are fighting against.

This is an important moment in the life of our college, but we are not “presented” with merely an “opportunity”. We are at a point of crisis.

We are fighting institutional racism. It is present. There is no room for debate.

There is no question as to whether these barriers exist, as they have already been identified. The charges of the Working Group have already been addressed— it is up the the College to fully listen to those who have and are providing the answers.

President's Leadership Team Response to Task Force and The Collective's Response to PLT

Hello again,

On September 6th, 2017, the St. Olaf student body received an email response from the President’s Leadership Team to the Task Force on Institutional Racism’s email of recommendations for St. Olaf they developed this past summer.


“The President’s Leadership Team thanks the Task Force for its report and the members for their work. When the Task Force was formed, the PLT agreed to respond to its report within 30 days.


President Anderson has exhorted us at the beginning of this school year to give one another grace. He describes this as, while holding one another accountable for our words and deeds, “presuming the best intentions from others, being slow to anger and quick to forgive, seeking understanding, engaging in authentic dialogue rather than rhetoric, looking for common ground, being aware of our own failings, de-escalating, and remaining resolutely hopeful.” It is in that spirit that we offer this response.


The charge to the Task Force was “To consider the demands presented by the Collective for Change on the Hill and the response to those demands from the President’s Leadership Team, and to make any recommendations regarding the demands by September 1, 2017.” The Task Force chose to fulfill that charge through a series of meetings in which members of the Task Force discussed among themselves the concerns raised by students and the College’s response to them.


Based upon those discussions, they issued their report.


As the Task Force itself recognizes, it is time to invite more voices into the conversation. We agree that a Working Group should be formed to listen to those voices, and we therefore believe it is premature to respond to the Task Force’s other recommendations.


The Working Group’s charge should include activities that the Task Force did not undertake. There should be open forums, updates to the community on its work, and opportunities for those with information, experiences or opinions regarding the campus climate to be heard. The Working Group should meet with offices on campus upon whose work it considers. Experts and best practices at other institutions should be consulted.


We will move forward with appointing members for the Working Group and the President will share the group's membership and charge with the campus community as soon as it is formed.


The President's Leadership Team”


This email was sent out two days after the Task Force’s email containing a documentation of their suggested actions the college should take.


We, as The Collective, appreciate the hard work the Task Force has done this summer, and their willingness to devote their time and energy to such an important but complex task. Although our views of some of the demands differ, they have shown themselves to have had extensive conversations about each point, which is necessary for dialogue and subsequent change on campus.


We, therefore, are disappointed in the Administration’s response to The Task Force’s recommendations. We believe that by disregarding the efforts of the Task Force and attempting to create a separate working group does not show an effort towards creating an “authentic dialogue”, as this shuts out those who have spent hours upon hours this summer to present a comprehensive document.


We believe that the college should take the Task Force’s recommendations more seriously, and set up a plan of action to implement them.


The College should be able to properly respond to the recommendations that the Task Force has provided in either agreeing or disagreeing with the recommendations. Instead they believe that by creating a Working Group they will be able to achieve this. By creating their non-transparent working group, they are presenting a lack of willingness to engage in true “dialogue”.


As the Task Force recognizes, it is time to include more voices into the conversation. It is time to act on the recommendation of a Title VI Working Group. It is time to clarify the College's definitions on actions of hate. It is time to take into account the needs of a diverse population, in ways the College has failed to do so previously. It is time to turn discussion away from what the College has been doing to what the College can do better or start doing. It is time for the College to work with those who want change.


The Collective will continue to hold the St. Olaf Administration accountable in how they choose to accept or ignore the advice of the people their actions will ultimately affect.


We will not allow this to be swept under the rug. We will not allow meaningless respectability to precede justice and meaningful action, or for the Administration to take this behind closed doors.

Task Force Update

September 11, 2017

Hello all,
As of September 4th, 2017, the St. Olaf student body has received an update from the Task Force on Institutional Racism that was formulated at the end of the spring semester of last year.

"Dear St. Olaf Students,

We write to present the Report of the St. Olaf Task Force on Institutional Racism. Our Task Force officially ends with the release of this report. But the work ahead continues and we hope this report is a helpful step in the process of making St. Olaf an even more inclusive and welcoming community for all.

We thank everyone who helped us in our work this summer, and in the preparation of this report.

Best regards,

Joan Hepburn and Chris Chiappari, Co-Chairs
On behalf of the St. Olaf Task Force on Institutional Racism"

Here is a link to the full 43-page document of their recommendations for St. Olaf. 


In Support of Cosimo Pori

June 17, 2017

We, The Collective for Change on The Hill, stand with and support Cosimo Pori. We stand in solidarity with them as they were willing to critique the institution of St. Olaf College and the flaws it holds. We came together to promote change and unity within the St. Olaf Community by addressing institutional forms of oppression to marginalized groups on campus. We value the ability to protest and speak out against oppressive powers as a way to call for action but when that ability is withheld from us, it promotes that cyclical power of oppression.

Individuals, especially members of St. Olaf’s “community”, should be able to speak out against Administration and the Institution without being threatened. Raising awareness about the institutional racism that St. Olaf College perpetuates is the change that St. Olaf desperately needs. Cosimo Pori pushed for the awareness of St. Olaf's institutional racism and has been silenced by its Administration. This act of disciplinary action against Cosimo goes against the values that this institution claims it seeks.

St. Olaf College values that “conversation is at the heart of [its] education”, but not everyone at St. Olaf is free to converse. According to St. Olaf College, it wants its students to “develop the ability to listen carefully, argue forcefully, and be the kind of engaged thinker”, but when students such as Cosimo are denied the freedom to speak, we find ourselves in the face of a hypocritical institution. St. Olaf allows for dialogue and conversation to be held within their terms, and we will not stand for that type of hypocrisy.

St. Olaf “strives to be an inclusive community, respecting those of differing backgrounds and beliefs” and the institution has failed to do so. This institution decides to silence those who have spoken out against the “community” it has created. The value of inclusivity that St. Olaf College claims to hold did not include Cosimo’s criticism of St. Olaf’s participation in institutional racism. It is apparent that St. Olaf College and its Administration only seeks "dialogue" between themselves and not the members of the community that their decisions directly affect. In order to dismantle institutional racism in the institution of St. Olaf College, Cosimo participated in valuable forms of dialogue such as protest and freedom of criticism, so The Collective for Change on the Hill supports Cosimo Pori. 


May 22, 2017

In the second week of May, the Collective invited applications from students of color to be nominees for the Task Force on Institutional Racism. The Collective held open elections to determine the top 5 student applicants. For sake of autonomy, it was decided that no Collective member would be on the Task Force.

The final list of students in our nominee pool are listed below:

  1. Yishu Dai
  2. SuSu Almousa
  3. Atefeh Alavi
  4. Said Alhouseini
  5. Muhammad Lucman

On May 12, 2017, Rosalyn Eaton sent out an email to the student body announcing the "Diversity and Inclusion Initiative." 

By May 16, 2017, we had also received confirmation from two faculty members (Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Chris Chiappari), one alumni member (Katie Barnes) and one attorney (Tom Fiebiger). 

On May 17, we were scheduled to meet with the President's Leadership Team (PLT) to discuss the membership of the Task Force. Two hours before the meeting Professor Kwon Dobbs withdrew her application. 

President David Anderson and Bruce King were the only members of the PLT at the meeting. We discussed and agreed upon a few amendments to the Terms and Conditions of Negotiations.  

In the meeting we only presented the names of the students, the attorney and the alumni member.  Concerns were raised regarding the alumni member's ability to be present on campus over the summer. 

It was decided that we would reconvene on May 22, 2017 to finalize the task force and that the PLT would send us a list of their own nominees before today. We did not receive any such list.

After May 17, Wednesday, the Collective sought to recruit more faculty and alumni nominees. Our final list of nominees are listed below:

Faculty Members:

  • Chris Chiappari
  • Joan Hepburn
  • Lisa Moore


  • SuSu Almousa
  • Atefeh Alavi
  • Yishu Dai
  • Muhammad Lucman
  • Said Alhouseini


  • Thomas Fiebiger


  • Katie Barnes
  • Adrian Benjamin
  • Sheridan Blanford

On May 19, 2017, PLT published their initial report on the List of Demands

Today (May 22, 2017) at 9 AM we met with the PLT again (only President David Anderson and Bruce King were present). At the meeting President David Anderson proposed that he would appoint a new committee for a "larger consideration of campus climate." 

 PDA's Proposal

PDA's Proposal

After sufficient consideration and deliberation, we decided that this proposal violates the Terms and Conditions of Negotiations and hinders the work of the Task Force. The proposal to establish a committee appointed by the PLT displays a lack of transparency.  

At 12 PM today we reconvened and agreed to the constitution of the Task Force. The President mentioned that he may still consider appointing a separate committee. The Collective will not support any committee that the PLT appoints behind closed doors. 

The PLT agreed that the Task Force will evaluate the Collective's List of Demands, and the PLT's initial report. The Task Force will provide its recommendations to the Administration by September 1, 2017. The newly instituted Task Force will consist of the following individuals:

Chris Chiappari, Co-Chair
Joan Hepburn, Co-Chair
Sheridan Blanford, Alumni Member '15
Tom Fiebiger, '78 Attorney
SuSu Almousa, '19
Yishu Dai, '18
Atefeh Alavi '20
Carl Lehmann '91, PLT member

The Administration has not clarified if it will nominate more external members. Based on the amended Terms and Conditions for Negotiations PLT can nominate at most 2 external members. 

The History of #InSTOtutionalRacism

The Collective is presenting a study on the History of racism at St. Olaf.

"Racism and Change on The Hill, 1874-2017" was sponsored by the Collective. 

This paper is part of our attempt to shift the attention from individual perpetrators of hate crimes and racism to Institutional problems.

We are grateful to Claire Bransky, Udeepta Chakravarty, Camille Garrett, Graham Glennon, Andrew Lee, Pearl McAndrews, Sam Seo and others who have helped in the drafting of this report.

Please Read and Share!!!!!!!!!




Members of the community and the general public,

On April 29, 2017, a black student found a note on their car which personally addressed and threatened them.

We, the members of The Collective, have learned from an email from the President that this event was “fabricated.” 

This has been a terrible revelation for us, not only because this “fabricated” incident sparked spontaneous solidarity within the entire community, not only because this movement and its unprecedented achievements relied on this spontaneous solidarity, but also because this movement, that occurred in a microcosm of the United States, reflects the resistance of peoples  to the larger issue of systemic racism in this country.

We believed the legitimacy of this incident like many members of the community because of our familiarity of such things happening. We unconditionally condemn such an attempt at fabrication because it questions the legitimacy of our demands for institutional change — reform that has been long overdue.

We call on all the members of the community to understand that the focus of our movement and our List of Demands is on transforming the institution and is necessitated by the alienation of people of color. This “not genuine” incident does not invalidate the experiences of others and it does not invalidate institutional racism.

The Collective stands unified in challenging institutional racism and in seeking institutional change.