Faculty assembly votes for permanent cultural competency committee

Faculty assembly voted to form a permanent committee dedicated to educating staff and students on cultural competency and making the curriculum more inclusive on Tuesday.

The proposal faculty voted on said the Educational Equity and Justice Committee is “tasked with ensuring that Emerson College fulfills its commitment to educational equality and social justice.” Members will include faculty, staff, and student representatives from organizations such as Student Government Association and Protesting Oppression With Educational Reform.

Two members of POWER submitted the proposal alongside faculty members.

The body serves a similar role to the the Ad Hoc Committee on Cultural Competency, which was created in 2015 to address concerns brought up during a student protest against racism. This committee taught faculty members and students about cultural competency and reviewed the college’s curriculum to see if it met standards of “diversity and inclusion.”

“Technically, it’s a new committee, but in fact it’s a new generation of the Ad Hoc Committee,” Robert Colby, former faculty assembly chair and professor, said in an interview the day after assembly.

Colby said it was probable members already on the Ad Hoc Committee would remain on its successor.

According to the proposal, the assembly stipulates that ad hoc committees operate on a temporary basis, but the work done by the Ad Hoc Committee on Cultural Competency was ongoing. Therefore, the faculty assembly needed a lasting committee dealing with the same issues.

Forty-seven members voted in support of the proposal, and eight voted against it. One faculty member abstained from the vote, which was cast on paper ballots to preserve anonymity.

The Ad Hoc Committee met last semester after the #ThisIsEmerson protest, another student demonstration against racism and discrimination on campus, which prompted former Faculty Assembly Chair Anthony Lowrie to author a memo accusing student protestors of abusing and intimidating faculty.

Lowrie’s memo also encouraged both faculty and students to take legal action against the college.

Lowrie stepped down after he received a vote of no confidence from Faculty Assembly during the committee’s last meeting of fall semester. Associate Journalism Professor Tim Riley is serving as interim chair.

A vote at the beginning of faculty assembly meeting determined Riley will remain interim chair through April.

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