Frustration Grows Over Implementation Committee’s Effectiveness

Eliza Guinn, Copy Editor

Tensions have flared over stagnant progress within the Strategic Plan Implementation Committees over the last few weeks. Comparative American Studies Associate Professor Shelley Lee was on the Committee for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, but reportedly resigned due to frustration with the committee. Lee declined the Review’s request for comment.

College sophomore and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee Member Kameron Dunbar said that while the committee plans to have a series of recommendations produced by the end of the semester, it is unlikely to actually occur.

“I think we need to reconsider: Why are we together? Why are we doing this? We need to put together a document to go through General Faculty, where it will be watered down. I don’t want to be a part of a group that produces yet another document that doesn’t really do much.”

The committees are meant to implement the Strategic Plan, a document that supposedly will guide the Board of Trustees decisions for the next five to 10 years. However, it is unclear how they actually make changes and interact with the board.

The Strategic Plan consists of five implementation committees: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Curricular; Resource Management; Advising; and Governance. All committees have been formed and begun meeting, although some committees, such as Governance, have only recently been formed. Others, such as the advising taskforce, have been meeting for up to nine months including over the summer.
 For former Student Senate Liaison and double-degree senior Jeremy Poe, the lack of real progress is unsurprising.

“Student Senate unanimously opposed the plan because we didn’t see questions about implementation being answered,” Poe said. “ e plan is, by its nature, self-congratulatory and contradictory.”

One concern that had been raised by students in the past is the lack of implementation power held by the committees, which are only able to make recommendations for policy change. Poe also noted the necessity of student input when proposing changes, which he did not feel was respected in the strategic implementation process.

“The Strategic Plan [is] an endorsement that students don’t matter to the planning process,” he said. “Students have repeatedly predicted problems with the strategic plan and have been repeatedly ignored.”

Meredith Raimondo, dean of students and co-chair of the committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, commented on Lee’s resignation. “We appreciate her important contribution and recognize the many demands on the time and energy of faculty, staff and students engaged in diversity, equity, and inclusion,” she wrote in an email to the Review. “The committee will continue to move forward in developing an implementation plan in draft form, to be workshopped with the broader Oberlin community as the year progresses.”

According to Dunbar, another faculty committee member has also threatened to resign. Dunbar noted the necessity for substantive change, saying, “When you rely on areas throughout the College to become more diverse by themselves, it doesn’t really work.”