In an email written to the St. Olaf community, the Council on Equity and Inclusion released their end-of-summer report, detailing their vision and plan for the next year as well as a recap of the previous year.
Created in 2018, the Council is tasked with, “the development and monitoring of the College’s strategic equity and inclusion plans and metrics,” as they work alongside the Working Group on Equity and Inclusion to implement the report’s recommendations and serve as a resource for both academic and administrative departments.
“The Council is the body that listens, that observes and that advises.”
– Marci Sortor
The end of summer report outlines the plan for improving equity and inclusion on campus, breaking it up into five detailed parts ranging from developing a more culturally aware community to accountability of the Council itself. Each section contains a list of how the Council will accomplish each goal and how it is actively working towards its goals of equity and inclusion.
“The Council is the body that listens, that observes and that advises,” said Chair of the Council and Provost and Dean of the College Marci Sortor. This plan will serve as a guide for the Council as they continue to meet and create growth on campus, according to Sortor.
Following the plan is a brief summary of all the Council has accomplished over the last year, as well as ongoing projects and goals. These accomplishments consist of the opening of the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion, the hiring of a rabbi as well as the creation of programs such as St. Olaf Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR) and Connect For Success to help improve retention rates.
The Council plans to move from the planning stage into a more concrete presence on campus. According to the report, the Council will normalize their role of listening and advising, as well as continuing to coordinate activities involving equity and inclusion while working towards the goals of the plan. Much of this work will come through meaningful dialogue with students, faculty and administrators to ensure the Council is meeting their unique mission on campus.
The Council will finalize a set of metrics to assess the College’s progress and where they can improve going forward later this month.
“We’re going to have to craft them [metrics], then we have to think about once we get the information, how do we help our community act on it?” said Sortor.
For the Council, that means advising on policies as well as discussing what areas can be improved and what they can do differently. The Council will continue to host weekly office hours for students to share their thoughts or ask questions with Council members. This year, the Council hopes to become more accessible and add office hours when the St. Olaf community may need it more.
“What the Council has tried to do is add office hours when something is happening or has just happened,” Sortor said. “That’s when people really need to talk and are thinking about the Council.”