Campus Climate Themes
Whether student, staff or faculty, the "Whitman experience" is not the same for every person, though there are general themes that repeat. Through a review of historical documents, task force members have begun identifying particular concerns as they relate to diversity, equity and the inclusion of specific populations in our campus community.
Further themes identified by community members will be gathered in upcoming listening sessions and through an online questionnaire and added to this compilation.
The information identified here provides a critical foundation for understanding our current campus culture and creating the action plan that the task force will present to President Murray.
- There is a theme of being unheard, lack of acknowledgment, and adequate supports. Perceptions of college readiness and success exacerbate this theme.
- There is a theme that expresses inadequate space for race-based discussion in academic and social settings. This theme is exacerbated by the lack of acknowledgment of White privilege and spills into online platforms.
- There is a general mistrust theme and that the current channels for addressing issues are not adequate or transparent with limited follow-up. There is not a sense of safety on campus or in the Walla Walla Valley generally.
- Lack of understanding of what is in the purview of the administration, what is governed by regulatory, federal, and state guidelines. (Title IX, Clery, Financial Aid Packaging, etc.)
- There is a theme of fear in offering complaints, organizing, or offering dissenting opinions due to at-will status and power differential. The perception that some staff members are an exception to this rule because of positionality (perceived as a leader, married to a faculty member or alum of the institution) exacerbates this theme.
- There is a theme of lack of transparency in the hiring and promotions process.
- There is a theme of voicelessness among the staff and no space to elevate the voices of staff of color.
- There is a theme of lack of representation of Faculty of Color and a retention concern around faculty of color (systems of support and recognition).
- There is a theme of surface-level inclusion tactics that don't transform the experience of faculty. This theme is exacerbated by the feeling of sharing experiences and trauma that has not turned into long term actionable change.
- There is a theme of needing cultural competency training and faculty accountability for all faculty to participate and a way for that learning to be assessed.
- There is a theme of lack of transparency in hiring, promotions, and the investigation process when issues or concerns are reported. The mistrust exacerbates this theme in our communication channels.