By Brady Antonelli /// Managing Editor
AFTER MANY months of revising and clarifying the language, the Proposal from Lewis & Clark College Faculty for Increasing Faculty and Curriculum Diversity finally went to a vote on April 5 with a final ballot reading 55 votes in favor of the proposal, 9 against, and 2 abstaining.
The vote came just after a brief discussion on the floor. One professor spoke in favor of the proposal as not only a plan to increase diversity in faculty and curriculum, but also as a statement of support for the students, especially after the events of fall semester.
Only one faculty member spoke openly against the proposal. They did not oppose it, but urged against putting it to vote because of the vague language on how to fund the proposal as a whole, given Lewis & Clark’s tight budget.
“The administration and students as well have noticed some needs that we have that everyone agrees are important and need correction,” Dr. Todd Lochner, Associate Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department, said. “One, for example, would be sufficient financial aid for students. Another would be more diversity hires. A third would be getting faculty salaries more or less consistent with our peer institutions.”
Although it may not be common knowledge among students, LC faculty are paid comparably less than faculty at similar institutions.
“Faculty salaries are running about 10% beneath our peer institutions,” Lochner said.
With money being tight for LC, decisions are made deliberately, especially decisions as to where money will go. After racist Yik Yak posts, the reported racially motivated attack on
an LC student and the call from the student body to move toward a safer, more diverse campus, the diversity proposal is a movement in the direction which the community at large supports.
In terms of faculty diversity, the proposal sets out to immediately use institutional resources in order to hire more diverse faculty, such as a revision of the Opportunity hiring policy, in order to better reflect the demographics of the world.
In order to diversify curriculum, faculty have agreed to hire professors to teach in fields that are current left as holes in the curriculum, continue the evolution of the Exploration & Discovery program to be more diverse and revise general education requirements to support and represent the underrepresented.
To address the issue of finances, the proposal includes a section on the Diversity Fund, which has already been created, and encourages seeking donors to the fund.
The proposal itself is a testament to the commitment of the faculty and community to fixing a problem that has existed for longer than just the past year. Since the meeting last month, there have been some revisions to the proposal, many of which were the product of goals that had already been completed. The proposal is split into ten parts, one of which has already been completed in its entirety, while some other parts have sections that also have been completed. Now that the proposal has passed the vote, there is a concrete next-step in the struggle for a more diverse faculty and curriculum, which could have lasting effects in the quality of an LC education.