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November 9, 2022: The HEDS Diversity and Equity Survey

From Dr. John Johnson, vice president for diversity and inclusion:

Audre Lorde notes that “there is no such thing as a single issue struggle, because we do not live single issue lives.”

It is essential that we recognize that all of us have complex identities and both hold and are read by others as simultaneously belonging to a number of different social groups. We also understand that power is not evenly distributed across those groups and that particular social group identities are rarely centered and often regarded and treated as lesser. The National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC) is a vital part of the college’s antiracism efforts and a focus on the racial climate was and remains appropriate given our institution’s context and history. Results from the NACCC student survey can be found here. The NACCC, however, is focused on a single issue. 

The HEDS Diversity and Equity climate survey provides students with an opportunity to share information about the multiple identities they hold and their perceptions of the institutional environment. Do you perceive the environment as diverse? Is the institution doing enough to address ableism? Sexism? Racism? Classism? Antisemitism and Islamophobia? Do you perceive the environment as segregated? Have you experienced marginalization or exclusion based on some form of bias associated with an identity you hold or are perceived to hold? These are the types of questions posed in the HEDS Diversity and Equity survey.

We want to acknowledge that sharing information about experiences of marginalization can be unpleasant. Subtle and overt acts of exclusion have lingering impacts and debilitating effects. We do not seek to retraumatize folks or place the burden of documentation on those who have experienced harm. But we are asking that, to the best of your ability and within the limits of your bandwidth, you share what you can. Your responses help paint the picture of the Whitman climate and the more of you that respond, the clearer that picture will be. We also pledge to take action to address the concerns that emerge from the survey results.

Filmmaker and trans rights activist Tourmaline, formerly known as Reina Gosset, has spoken about the need for us to fight, dismantle, and build. Fight for our rights. Dismantle systems of oppression. Build new systems that are inclusive in their place. Considering intersectionality and positionality, it is understandable that someone with multiple marginalized identities would lead with fight. When one’s default reality is to have their experience invalidated, it is necessary to fight to be heard, fight to be seen, fight to be regarded as fully human. Recognizing the significance and importance of struggle in the liberation process, and with much respect to Tourmaline, rather than fight, I want to invite the Whitman community to share. Share your experiences. Share your frustrations. Share your concerns about the climate and conditions at Whitman, by completing the HEDS Diversity and Equity survey. A black and white logo depicting three people with raised fists surrounded by a circle with the words "Share. Dismantle. Build."

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