Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Letter from the Administration on Who’s Teaching us coalition

Dear Editor:

We wish to update the Stanford community on the discussion of the demands issued recently by the Who’s Teaching Us coalition.

We want to emphasize that underlying these demands are important issues to which the university administration has been and will be devoting serious attention. Stanford is deeply committed to further strengthening diversity and inclusion in our campus community, and despite the progress that has been made in many areas, we share the view that more progress is needed.

The four of us met with representatives of the WTU coalition on March 15, one day after receiving their March 14 letter. In that meeting, we reached agreement on a process for addressing the issues raised by the coalition.

That process is an attempt to move beyond the polarizing nature of demand and counter to one of structured conversations around each of the major issue areas identified by the coalition: faculty and administrative diversity, university curriculum, residential life, extracurricular diversity programs and divestment. The president and provost have assigned teams of senior administrators, including the four of us, to participate in the conversations in each issue area.

In addition, President Hennessy wrote to the coalition on March 28. In a letter that also has been provided to The Daily, expressing his support for this process and his recognition of the importance of the underlying concerns, not only to the WTU coalition but also to the wider campus community.

“These are difficult, longstanding issues, and we must never become complacent in our efforts to create a campus environment that is truly inclusive and a society that recognizes and addresses the concerns of marginalized communities,” his letter read in part. “Student voices about their experiences at Stanford, and student ideas for improving those experiences, are critical to making progress together as a university community.”

All parties agreed that it would be impossible for the university to respond to WTU’s concerns by the coalition’s original April 8 deadline. Many of the issues are complex, require detailed analysis, and involve a variety of stakeholders from across our highly decentralized university. With that understanding, WTU leaders agreed in mid-March to move ahead with the process described here in lieu of their original deadline.

We are making progress. Since our first meeting on March 15, for example, follow-up meetings have occurred with WTU representatives regarding the concerns in the residential life area and regarding the timeline for the overall process. We are now scheduling additional meetings, primarily pending the availability of students.

We realize that not all of this information may have been shared with the wider student community, and we believe it is important for our campus community to be informed about the process.

We sincerely appreciate the work being done by many students to identify priorities for improving our students’ experience at Stanford. Both individually and as representatives of the senior administration, we are deeply committed to collaborative and substantive engagement with students in order to identify the optimal solutions to these concerns.

Sincerely,

Harry J. Elam, Jr.

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

 

Patricia J. Gumport

Vice Provost for Graduate Education

 

Matthew Snipp

Senior Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity

 

Nicole Taylor

Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Community Engagement and Diversity