BY ANNA SHORTRIDGE ’19
In an email sent to the Mount Holyoke community on Jan. 20, acting president Sonya Stephens announced the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference, a learning conference that will take place from March 26-27. The event is a part of the college's plan for Mount Holyoke 2021, which according to the email outlines Mount Holyoke's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
All classes and other scheduled activities will be cancelled on March 27 in order to ensure full participation from students, faculty and staff.
Acting president Stephens gave a brief description of the event in the Jan. 20 email: ™This is not a day off, but rather a day on, to address how we can best work together as a community. There will also be activities on Sunday, March 26, as well as multicultural events and food. An organizing committee will shape the events, with a dialogic approach designed to stimulate and extend thinking, and to advance learning across the spectrum of experience and knowledge.∫
The DEI conference will lead to the MHC community, creating ™concrete recommendations for ensuring change∫ that will be presented to the board of trustees. These recommendations will eventually be developed into a ™clear plan of action prior to the start of the 2017-2018 school year.∫
Kathleen Pertzborn, acting president Stephens' chief of staff and one of the two DEI steering committee co-chairs for the conference, also addressed the DEI conference in an email sent out on Monday Feb 6. ™We will explore what it means to be a women's liberal arts college in the 21st century with an emphasis on valuing our diversity, building inclusive relationships and ensuring equity in our policies and practices,∫ said Pertzborn.
Little information about the event has been shared with the Mount Holyoke community, aside from the few emails sent from members of the administration. There also is not any information about the event on the Mount Holyoke website.
The DEI Steering Committee is currently seeking members of the Mount Holyoke community to help create the program for the conference. Title IXcoordinator Rene Davis and Kathleen Pertzborn asked that students interested in joining the committee to contact them directly.
The vice president for student life and dean of students, Marcella Runell Hall, is optimistic for such a conference to take place at Mount Holyoke. ™I am so very excited about this event, and thrilled for our community to be able to spend this time together,∫ she said.