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Suzy Kim / Gavel Media

LSOE Students Advocate for More Diverse Faculty

A coalition of Lynch School of Education undergraduate and graduate students will be meeting with Dean Stanton Wortham, Associate Dean of Students Elizabeth Sparks, and Professor Ana Martinez-Aleman to encourage administrators to hire more faculty of color on Thursday, May 4 at 10:30.

LSOE will be hiring six new faculty in the next few years, and the search process for three of those faculty members will begin this summer.

“The presence of faculty of color is important in promoting a richer learning environment that lives the social justice values in our institution’s mission,” said the coalition of LSOE students, in a statement to The Gavel.

“Having racially equitable practices and policies that truly value the voices, interests, experiences, and skills that people from historically minoritized groups bring is important in creating a socially just institution, and as a community we should be accountable for this.”

For students of color at a predominantly white university, a lack of faculty and student diversity causes “tokenizing of non-white students,” and contributes to the lower retention rates for non-white faculty and students.

“It is important to establish meaningful mentor relationships with faculty who have had similar experiences and/or faced similar barriers in institutions of higher education,” said the student statement.

“This is not necessarily available to students of color, partly because there are few faculty of color within each department, and partly because those who are there tend to provide mentorship to a great number of students who share their racial or ethnic identity, leaving them with little time to take on new students.”

Additionally, if a faculty member is mentoring a greater number of students, there will be less time to focus on their own scholarship, which would increase the likelihood of tenure and promotion.

In light of LSOE’s mission to educate future teachers and counselors, diversity of faculty becomes especially important.

“The recruitment and retention of faculty of color improves the experience and preparation of all students by providing an institutional space that better reflects a diversity of experiences, perspectives, and intellectual and pedagogical approaches,” stated the LSOE student coalition.

“This strengthens the institution and begins to reflect the communities LSOE educators and psychologists-in-training will be serving. Overall, these efforts are crucial to making the institution more equitable, accountable, and responsive.”

Although faculty retention is often described as a pipeline problem, in which few qualified candidates of color are looking for jobs and top schools are all competing to diversify their faculty, the LSOE students disagree.

“We see the primary challenge being that many job descriptions center a particular type of candidate with particular qualifications—those that require a certain educational or professional background, which isn’t always available to candidates of color,” the LSOE students objected. “Centering the oftentimes under-acknowledged skills and qualifications that candidates of color can bring to the table is therefore crucial in any hiring process.”

While hiring faculty of color is the first step to increasing the faculty diversity, it is important that BC makes an effort encourage a school environment that is welcoming to all races.

“All of this is underscored by the idea that concerted efforts must be made to ensure that Boston College is a place faculty of color want to be; recruitment without retention does very little to improve institutional equity,” added the student coalition.

“This means adapting the tenure and promotion process in ways that reflect an understanding and valuing of faculty of color who may bring historically marginalized epistemologies, pedagogies, and interests. It also means creating a climate in which those perspectives are no longer marginalized.”

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I’m a future elementary teacher who enjoys dabbling in news coverage of politics and social issues on the side.