Section: News

Trustees will discuss campus culture of racial insensitivity

The Board of Trustees will discuss what it means to build an “inclusive community” during its spring meeting this weekend, a departure from typical Board agendas which revolve around business decisions. Members of the Board will attend events planned in response to recent allegations by students and faculty that campus culture enables racially insensitive and discriminatory behavior.

The College has been grappling with allegations of racism and censorship in light of recent events including James Michael Playwright-in-Residence Wendy MacLeod’s decision to retract her play The Good Samaritan following criticism of its depiction of a Guatemalan minor and a public letter disseminated by black students that stated non-black students often say the “n-word.”

President Sean Decatur said there will be “an opportunity for there to be a bit of discussion among the Board, not necessarily rehashing the specifics of campus events but looking at it in a broader context … [of] an institution that clearly has historical legacies.”

The Office of the President is sponsoring two events with Jelani Cobb, a Pulitzer finalist and professor at Columbia School of Journalism who focuses on race, which will coincide with the Board of Trustees’ annual meeting. Cobb is on campus to answer “questions on topics including diversity, free expression and inclusion,” according to the event page.

Members of the Board of Trustees attended Cobb’s April 18 talk “The Half-Life of Freedom: Race and Justice in America Today” and will participate in Cobb’s April 19 Q&A with Decatur. They will also attend an April 19 panel with students, faculty and staff to explore these issues.

The Board of Trustees will then vote on which professors will receive tenure and the College will update them about campus construction.

“This will be the first time folks have been on campus since we started digging holes and tearing things down so it’s a chance to see that, to see the bookstore, to get a sense of the progress,” Decatur said.

The Board will then vote to move the College into the public phase of its capital campaign in the coming year. The College’s capital campaign, a focused effort to meet specific fundraising goals, has been in the “quiet phase” since 2014. During the “quiet phase,” the College is seeking out gifts from specific donors before soliciting donations from the public. They will move into the public phase this fall if the Board of Trustees votes “yes” this weekend.

“They will officially set the goal of the campaign,” Decatur said. “The campaign will have a name which — I will save the suspense until after the Board has officially voted on it.” Decatur said the measure will likely pass.

Lauren Eller contributed reporting.


Comments for this article have closed. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor for publication, please email us at