In his message on Thursday, President Salovey reaffirmed Yale’s commitment to equity and inclusion, and called on all of us to take actions to make our campus community better, more welcoming, and more inclusive.
Together with other university leaders, I have been meeting with groups of students to hear you relate your experiences and ideas for action. Last Friday, with graduate school dean Lynn Cooley, vice presidents Janet Lindner and Eileen O’Connor, and Chief Ronnell Higgins, I heard from students from across the university. Further listening sessions will take place this week.
I want to highlight some points from Friday’s session and my other conversations with students:
• Students have asked what will change about police interactions, and whether the police should even have responded to the call made from HGS last Monday night. Yale Police officers respond whenever they are called for any number of reasons. Only after they respond can police determine the actual situation. To do so, they speak with the caller and anyone else who can help them assess whether the police are needed. It is standard procedure to ask everyone for identification when officers arrive in response to a call. In the HGS incident, the effort to determine the identity of one student took longer than usual because of our recently implemented preferred name policy. The university is resolving this issue within our directory system and is ensuring that Yale Police dispatchers are trained to quickly identify students using their preferred or legal names. To learn from the encounter and determine how to improve future responses to calls, Chief Higgins has reviewed the police response to the incident with the officers involved and their supervisors. Yale Police officers will receive additional training in de-escalation, problem solving, and unbiased policing, supplementing their existing training on inclusion, diversity, and unconscious bias.
• Students have asked how the university responds to incidents of discrimination and harassment. There are a variety of responses, which are tailored to the preferences of affected students. If you experience or witness discrimination or harassment, please visit the Resources for Students to Address Discrimination and Harassment Concerns website which outlines options, and speak with a Dean’s Designee who can offer you individualized support. Dean’s Designees can receive your concerns, and offer advice and guidance on issues of equal opportunity, inclusion, discrimination, and harassment.
If you would like to talk with someone confidentially about sexual misconduct or gender discrimination, I encourage you to reach out directly to a Title IX coordinator. The Sexual Misconduct Response & Prevention website highlights Title IX and other resources.
• Students have asked whether there will be disciplinary consequences for the resident of the Hall of Graduate Studies who reported another student to the Yale Police. As an academic institution, the discipline of students is conducted according to the rules and practices of our various schools. Federal law and the university’s commitment to student confidentiality prevents us from discussing discipline or other educational matters regarding individual students.
I also want to highlight the university’s next steps:
• The Advisory Committee on Student Life—which brings together student life leaders from all units of the university—will meet at a retreat to develop the next phase of equity and inclusion programming. This retreat will also provide for the sharing of best practices across the university and build upon cross-school collaboration.
• A group of faculty members and administrators are providing me with advice to coordinate our long-term planning for student diversity and inclusion programming.
• The Dean’s Designees, the point-persons for students’ discrimination and harassment concerns, will continue to meet throughout the summer with me. We will determine how best to increase their visibility on campus.
• University administrators are continuing to meet with students at ongoing listening sessions, and with student leaders to discuss their concerns, gather student input, and support their events and programming. These conversations will continue over the summer and into the next academic year.
• Lynn Cooley, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, has written to the graduate community outlining next steps for addressing issues of diversity and inclusion in the graduate school, including implicit bias training for staff, students, and directors of graduate studies.
There are two further upcoming listening sessions this week that I will attend with other Yale leaders, and a special meeting of the Graduate Student Assembly:
• Thursday, May 17, 3:00 p.m., Loria Center, 190 York Street, Room B51.
• Friday, May 18, 12:00 p.m., Yale Child Study Center, 230 South Frontage Road, Cohen Auditorium.
• The Graduate Student Assembly is also hosting a special meeting of its general assembly on Wednesday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m., to promote discussion among graduate students and student groups, and to draft a message to the university community on diversity, inclusion, and equality. GSA meets at Watson Center, 60 Sachem Street, Room A74. Food will be provided. To help with catering, please let GSA know that you plan to attend.
My thanks to everyone who has spoken with me. I am compiling the various suggestions you are offering. I will review these with colleagues over the summer, and look forward to announcing next steps. There is, indeed, much more to do. I ask for your help to continue building an ethical, interdependent, and diverse community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni, where all are respected and all can thrive in their research and scholarship, education, preservation, and practice.
Kimberly M. Goff-Crews
Secretary and Vice President for Student Life
Kimberly M. Goff-Crews, Secretary and Vice President for Student Life