Following the highly publicized murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as students of color voicing concerns through accounts like the “dear PWI” Instagram, Bates reaffirmed its commitment to inclusion on campus.
Part of this commitment included the formation of a new Equity and Inclusion Student Advisory Committee. According to Dr. Noelle Chaddock, the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, “this committee will work in a consultative and collaborative role in shaping the direction of equity, inclusion, access, anti-racism and educational justice work and programming at Bates College.”
The committee functions like an elective body. Students vote for representatives who are then available to listen to their concerns about inclusion on campus. The representatives then make recommendations about school policy to the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
“We envision that campus constituents can tap into this group of students as a way of including them in decision-making processes as we work toward equitable, inclusive and anti-racist framings in the work of the college,” Dr. Chaddock elaborated. By communicating with students directly, committee representatives can “tell us what they need to be successful and have a sense of belonging,” Dr. Chaddock added.
This framework for greater communication ensures that Bates takes the lived experiences of the student body into account when crafting anti-racism and anti-discrimination policies. Dr. Chaddock went on to say that “with an intentional space, an election process, transparent communication about and from the committee, and compensation for their time and expertise – students now will be an ongoing formal part of this work.”
According to Alyssa Shije, a first-year student elected to the committee, engaging students on campus presents a valuable opportunity to hear voices that are often shut out of the conversation. “Bates College is not as diverse as it could be with representation of minorities, and I think that the student committee is a perfect area for students to voice concerns and provides a safe space to discuss anything going on at campus,” Shije said.
By including students from a wide variety of class years, backgrounds, and life experiences, the committee can give a holistic view of life on campus.
Studies show that when colleges foster student involvement on diversity issues, students of color feel more comfortable, less isolated, and safer on campus. Creating an inclusive environment is uniquely important; in a hostile space, minority students can struggle with mental health and encounter obstacles to academic success.
As the committee moves forward, it will be able to influence how Bates responds to new challenges. By involving students directly, the Office of Equity and Inclusion is hoping that Bates’ policies better represent the concerns of the students who live on campus.
According to Dr. Chaddock, “Students have always played this role whether formally or informally.” The committee is just the next step in getting the campus community involved.
The members of the committee for 2020-2021 are as follows:
Ulyses Hernandez ‘24
Maya Karmaker ‘24
Fatina Mulumba ‘24
Miles Nabritt ‘21
Vidhya Pathy ‘24
Sydney Phan ‘24
Joshua Redd ‘21
Alyssa Shije ‘24
Muskan Verma ‘21
Ollie Young ‘23
The committee first met on Oct. 6, 2020.