I am writing to follow up with you about the Open Forum on Tuesday evening.
I want to thank all of you for the respectful way in which you have come forward to express your concerns abuot my decisino to cancel “Trick or Drink” and about the issues of consultation, trust, and respect for tradition that you feel are at stake. I want you to know that I am listening and learning, and the intensity of your investment in these issues has registered with me. My hope now is that we can move forward together and rebuild the trust that will be required to make progress.
The conversation on Tuesday night was the first of many that we will need to have in order to tackle a set of issues that are obviously very important to you and to how you feel about your Bates experience. These issues are also very important to me and other staff and faculty as we try to build a richer array of healthy and safe social options on campus. Even after a short time here, I recognize that one of Bates’ most defining features is a strong sense of community built on values of mutual caring and respect. Our shared commitment to preserving the bonds of community should guide the work ahead.
As we discussed at the Forum, we plan to create a Campus Culture Working Group to address the broad range of issues that we need tackle in order to make progress toward a more positive and inclusive campus culture. Over the next week or so, I will be working with representatives of student government to develop an agreed-upon process for identifying students to serve on the working group, which will also include faculty and staff representatives. Once the working group is formed, we will begin the process of prioritizing the issues to be addressed and outlining the principles that will guide our work. My hope and expectation is that this work will proceed in a rigorous, creative, and highly consultative way.
Meanwhile, you have asked that I offer regular office hours, open to all students, and I am more than happy to do so, beginning immediately. My open office hours are posted at: http://www.bates.edu/dos/open-office-hours/. Additionally, similar to how I have approached my work at Bates over the past several months, I am accessible and available to you well beyond office hours and welcome a conversation with you about any matter. Please feel free to come see me during office hours, or you may schedule an appointment with me by contacting Donna Sevigny at [email protected]