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Final Report of the GSE&IS Committee on Race and Ethnic Relations

Committee Members:

Professor Daniel Solorzano, Education Department, Chair of the Committee

Sayil Camacho, Graduate Student, Education Department

William Dandridge, Chief Financial Officer, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies

Professor Johanna Drucker, Information Studies Department

Alma Flores, Graduate Student, Education Department

Professor Annamarie Francois, Director of Teacher Education Program

Patricia Garcia, Graduate Student, Information Studies Department

Professor Sandra Graham, Education Department

Timothy Ho, Graduate Student, Education Department

Professor Tyrone Howard, Education Department

Professor Sylvia Hurtado, Education Department

Professor Anne Gilliland, Information Studies Department

Professor Patricia McDonough, Education Department

Professor John Rogers, Education Department

Professor Robert Teranishi, Education Department

Professor Noreen Webb, Education Department

Brian Woodward, Graduate Student, Education Department

 

Committee Staff:

 

Cassandra Gonzalez, Committee Administrative Assistant

Kenjus Watson, Committee Graduate Student Researcher

 

 

 

 

June 2014

 


 

Prologue

 

The Graduate School of Education and Information Studies prides itself on its social justice mission and the abiding commitment to researching and providing evidence-based strategies to remedy inequity in Education and Information Studies.  Our mission is dedicated to:

 

“…inquiry, the advancement of knowledge, the improvement of professional practice, and service to the education and information professions.  We develop future generations of scholars, teachers, information professionals, and institutional leaders.  Our work is guided by the principles of individual responsibility and social justice, an ethic of caring, and commitment to the communities we serve.”

 

These unique commitments represent our collective strivings to build and sustain inclusive, fruitful, and democratic learning spaces for our faculty, staff, and students.  In turn, we believe the GSE&IS is a uniquely positioned social and public institution in the United States.

 

GSE&IS faculty conduct cutting edge research and teach with immediacy on relevant issues of inequity in Education and Information Studies.  GSE&IS staff work collaboratively and offer a myriad of intentional and engaged support for their colleagues.  The GSE&IS student body is one of the most diverse in the nation, generates research that impacts educational policy, and intellectual achievement.  However, as several GSE&IS scholars[1] noted some time ago, we understand that progressive intentions and representative diversity are necessary, yet ultimately insufficient organizational characteristics to ensure positive racial climates.  In fact, general interactions may be more conflict-laden and damaging if multicultural communities are not equipped to engage intergroup issues of diversity and equity intentionally and honestly.

 

In the Fall of 2013 three events occurred on the UCLA campus.

 

  • On October 15, 2013 the Moreno Report or the “Independent Investigative Report on Acts of Bias and Discrimination Involving Faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles” was released.  The Report found that “widespread concern among faculty members that the racial climate at UCLA had deteriorated over time, and that the university’s policies and procedures are inadequate to respond to reports of incidents of bias and discrimination.”

 

  • On November 8, 2013, the “Black Bruins” video was released on-line.  This five-minute video highlighted the small numbers of Black males on the UCLA campus (3.3% of all undergraduate and graduate males at UCLA) as well as the negative racial experiences that many encounter in everyday incidents on and off campus.

 

  • On Thursday November 14, 2013 a group of education graduate students named “Call 2 Action: Graduate Students of Color in Education” read a “Day of Action Statement” in a graduate level class and led a teach-in.  In part the statement read: “as a formal complaint of a hostile racial climate that we have been subjected to, and request that this be investigated and that appropriate actions, as suggested, be taken.”  Throughout the statement students documented their experiences in the class during the Fall quarter.[2]  This student action became the basis for the administrative and faculty response of Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSEIS) that follows.

 

While these three events are not exhaustive, they can speak to a pattern of overt incidents on college campuses that researchers have referred to as the campus racial climate.  In addition, these three examples don’t explicitly acknowledge the covert incidents that happen away from the news media or in the general public square both on and off the university campus.

 

On Saturday November 23, 2013, (within nine days of the Nov. 14th Teach-in) the Chair of the Education Department, Louis Gomez, sent an email to selected faculty in the Department.  It stated: “Marcelo [Dean of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies] and I would like your help to understand and improve the racial/ethnic social climate in our Department.”  On December 5th, Chair Gomez (on behalf of Dean Suarez-Orozco) sent an email to the Education and Information Studies faculty announcing the formation of the Committee on Race and Ethnic Relations (CRER).  It stated:

 

"The committee is charged with examining all aspects of GSE&IS’s operations and culture from the perspective of race and ethnic relations.  You are especially charged to speak to a very broad range of students, faculty and staff.  You are further charged with reporting to Chairs and to the Dean on these matters.  Should you identify aspects of GSE&IS operations, culture or both, either in GSE&IS in its entirety, or at the Department or Division levels, that contribute to an unhealthy climate for racial and ethnic relations, you also charged with making suggestions for repair to the Department Chairs and to Dean Suárez-Orozco.  The work is to begin immediately.  The work of this committee will conclude on June 30, 2014.  This committee charged with making three reports, all of which aim to ensure that the School understands the committee’s progress, between now and June 30,2014 and to ensure that the committee is comprehensive in its analysis of current conditions and potential remedies.  The reports from the committee will include (1) A brief, early view, temperature-of-the-department by January 31,2014, (2) A brief mid-course report by March 15, 2014 and (3) A final report by June 30, 2014.  Moving forward, aided by the Committee’s efforts, GSE&IS shall re-double its efforts to nurture a climate of respect, rigor and reflexivity in all scholarly and interpersonal interactions."

 

It is within this context that the GSE&IS Committee on Race and Ethnic Relations began its work.

 

The Work of the Committee on Race and Ethnic Relations

 

The GSE&IS Committee on Race and Ethnic Relations held its first meeting at the beginning of the Winter 2014 Quarter on January 8th.  We discussed the issues and events that lead to the establishment of the Committee, along with the Committee’s Charge and Milestones, and how the Committee would meets its Charge generally and the first Charge in particular—A brief, early view, temperature-of-the-department by January 31,2014.  The First Report of the Committee on Race and Ethnic Relations (below) was sent to Dean Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, Chair of the Education Department, Louis Gomez, and Chair of the Information Studies Department Gregory Leazer on February 8, 2014.

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

The First Report of the Committee on Race and Ethnic Relations

 

The Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSE&IS) prides itself on its social justice mission and the abiding commitment to researching and providing evidence-based strategies to remedy inequity in education and information studies.  Recently, a group of our students have courageously challenged us to reflect on how we enact this mission in our own community. We owe these students a debt of thanks.  We, the student and faculty members of the Committee on Race and Ethnic Relations (hereafter, Committee), enthusiastically undertake our charge to investigate conditions that enhance or undermine an inclusive and supportive climate in GSE&IS that builds capacity for high quality research on educational equity and critical understandings of racism.  We charge ourselves with the responsibility to make actionable recommendations to the GSE&IS in order to create classrooms and other learning spaces that are simultaneously brave and safe.

 

We want to remind us all of GSE&IS’ Mission, which is dedicated to:

 

…inquiry, the advancement of knowledge, the improvement of professional practice, and service to the education and information professions.  We develop future generations of scholars, teachers, information professionals, and institutional leaders.  Our work is guided by the principles of individual responsibility and social justice, an ethic of caring, and commitment to the communities we serve.

 

Since we take our Mission and value statements to heart, we are approaching this investigation into student claims of a hostile learning environment as an occasion for learning and growth.  We intend to cast our net widely.  The Committee will be assessing if we have (as we say in our GSE&IS value statement) created democratic environments where students can:

  • systematically pursue new knowledge and its application;
  • meet high academic standards and integrity;
  • participate in an intellectually open, collaborative, and collegial environment;
  • have the freedom to pursue one’s intellectual passions;
  • be encouraged to consider multiple points of view and rival hypotheses; and
  • benefit from a nurturing, caring, and empowering  professional environment.

 

In assessing how GSE&IS supports students, we will be investigating the processes of graduate training.  We plan to identify prevailing norms for having open and challenging (but not debilitating) discussions, and how those norms are conveyed, displayed and modeled.  GSE&IS has long been enthusiastically committed to reflecting on our pedagogical success and missteps, and elevating the state of our pedagogical practice.

 

Some of our community’s perspectives on our racial and ethnic climate have been covered by web media, which has unfairly reduced the students’ legitimate concerns over the faculty engagement in research proposal conceptualization and design to merely problems of grammar and inadequate student preparation for graduate work.  We stand by all the students in our programs as being capable and owning their place at our table.  Many of the web comments have vilified our students, while other GSE&IS students have come forward with additional claims of a hostile learning climate.

 

Any incident or experience shared by a community will always generate multiple narratives, each of which has the right to be respected and validated as an experience of events.  No single version of any incident is a full explanation of a complex situation, particularly one that carries the heavy weight of issues emotionally charged by historical legacies of racism, power imbalance, and systematic abuses that often go unrecognized and without articulation in our culture.  But no matter what the inequities are that need to be addressed and understood within complex and subtle perceptions, some behaviors are categorically intolerable in this community, and any community based on an ethic of respect, social justice, and fundamental values of fairness.  Any activity, speech, or behavior that has even a whiff of hate, retaliation, or ad hominem attack will not and should not be tolerated under any circumstances.

 

GSE&IS is a social and public institution in today’s America.  As such, addressing and discussing issues of race and ethnicity are often difficult and painful.  Because of the common conditions of pain and difficulties in talking about race and racism, most of America avoids these discussions.  We don’t and won’t.  We welcome the opportunity to step up to the leadership role that accompanies our social justice mission to work on remedying the unsafe and not brave learning spaces within our community and pledge to improving our pedagogical practices and classrooms so that all our students feel their work is valued.  The faculty are committed to supporting students through their graduate studies, and together we will create safe and productive classroom spaces.

 

Our commitment to the broader community, as expressed in our Mission and Values webpage (http://gseis.ucla.edu/about/mission-values), states that we value the pursuit of social justice as we look at the research agendas of our faculty and students, the missions of our research centers and institutes, and the pedagogical practices in our classrooms.  Starting from the GSE&IS Mission and Values, we provide an initial “brief, early view, temperature-of-the-department/school” by exploring the following areas.

 

Teaching and Mentoring: In the weeks ahead, the Committee will be exploring the need for professional development for faculty around issues of race based epistemology, theory, methodology, and pedagogy.  In our discussions so far, we have talked about the difference between disagreeing and being dismissive with each other on issues of race and ethnic relations.  We have discussed the importance of recognizing the differential faculty/student power dynamics inside and outside the classroom and how these power dynamics carry over to student/student interaction.  We have talked about the importance of the ethic of respect for each other (i.e. faculty, students, staff) in these contexts.  We have asked ourselves these questions:

  1. How can we create spaces where conversations on race and racism (and other forms of marginality) can happen in a constructive way?
  2. How do we have more inclusive discussions on the various theoretical and methodological frameworks that deal with issues of race and ethnic relations?
  3. How we challenge an intellectual/classroom culture where it’s OK to disrespect and dismiss issues of race and ethnic relations?
  4. How do we emphasize the importance of dialogue (deep conversations leading to a robust learning experiences) around issues of race and ethnic relations?
  5. How do we take our pedagogy more seriously—especially around issues of race and ethnic relations?
  6. How can we make an ethic of respect the core of our pedagogy?

 

Answers to these and other questions will come in discussions with faculty and students in various forms of professional development, faculty meetings, GSE&IS Town Halls, and in classrooms.

 

GSE&IS Racial Climate: The Committee plans to conduct a poll of students, faculty, and staff around issues of the race and ethnic climate.  In addition to providing us with critical and actionable information in the short term, the poll also will serve as a pilot for ongoing data collection that can be used to understand and improve our learning climate.  We also plan to consider using course evaluations to gauge the race and ethnic climate of the school.

 

Grievance Process for Students:  At the moment, the GSE&IS doesn’t have a mechanism for students who have concerns with race and ethnic relations to go and seek redress.  The Committee agreed that this is an area for further investigation and we will pursue an analysis of policies and procedures within GSE&IS and in the university more broadly.  Also, do we need a process and structure that deals with the differential power dynamics for students who feel they are mistreated?  How do we deal with questions of student anonymity in the grievance process?  How do we deal with the vulnerability that students feel when are in situations where they are mistreated?  At some point, the GSE&IS faculty must meet and discuss the issues of student grievance.  Our Associate Dean, Pat McDonough, is working on this issue for the GSE&IS.  Also, the UCLA Moreno Implementation Committee and the UCOP Student-Administration Work Group on the Moreno Report are also working on this issue.  The work of the Committee should be aware of how these efforts are moving forward.

 

Other Structural Issues.  The Committee has discussed other structural challenges that need to be addressed to ensure a positive learning environment for GSE&IS students.  For example, we recognize that too many of our students receive inadequate financial support, which undermines the development of our learning community.  The Committee also has discussed student-faculty ratios and their impact on our learning environments in and out of the classroom.  At future meetings we plan to explore further opportunities for enhancing student financial support and providing students with more faculty attention.

 

Next Steps:  We agreed that these are not mutually exclusive issues.  We want to understand and address the ways in which one problem may be leading to others.  For example, the faculty to student ratio may be impacting mentoring, classroom dynamics, and peer relationships, etc.  We agreed to continue our discussion of these and other issues as we move toward making these issues more specific and actionable.

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

The Committee continued its work to and to meet the second charge and provide “A brief mid-course report by March 15, 2014.”  After a series of meetings and discussions the Committee decided that the Second Report (below) would include a set of recommendations that the Dean, the Chairs of Education and Information Studies Departments, and the Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee could move on before the end of the 2013-14 academic year.  The Committee submitted the Second Report on May 5, 2014.

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

The Second Report of the Committee on Race and Ethnic Relations

 

The Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSE&IS) prides itself on its social justice mission and the abiding commitment to researching and providing evidence-based strategies to remedy inequity in education and information studies.  Indeed, the GSE&IS Mission is dedicated to:

 

…inquiry, the advancement of knowledge, the improvement of professional practice, and service to the education and information professions.  We develop future generations of scholars, teachers, information professionals, and institutional leaders.  Our work is guided by the principles of individual responsibility and social justice, an ethic of caring, and commitment to the communities we serve.

 

Since we take our Mission and value statements to heart, we approached our task as an occasion for teaching, learning, and growth.  The Committee is presenting a set of recommendations that can create new and reinforce existing democratic environments where students can:

  • Systematically pursue new knowledge and its application;
  • Meet high academic standards and integrity;
  • Participate in an intellectually open, collaborative, and collegial environment;
  • Have the freedom to pursue one’s intellectual passions;
  • Be encouraged to consider multiple points of view and rival hypotheses; and
  • Benefit from a nurturing, caring, respectful, and empowering professional environment.

 

Our commitment to the broader community, as expressed in our Mission and Values webpage (http://gseis.ucla.edu/about/mission-values), states that we value the pursuit of social justice as we look at the research agendas of our faculty and students, the missions of our research centers, institutes, programs, and the pedagogical practices in our classrooms.

 

This 2nd Report has gone through a rigorous process of discussion, reflection, and revision to come to these seven recommendations.[3]  It is our hope these recommendations will move the GSE&IS forward as we create a climate of respect, safety, and support for our students, staff, administration, and faculty.  We believe that, when implemented, these recommendations will help answer and give guidance to some of the questions surrounding the race, ethnic, gender, sexuality, and disability climate laid out in the first report of the Committee.

 

Recommendation #1—Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity/Chief Diversity Officer

 

The GSE&IS Committee on Race and Ethnic Relations is recommending the establishment of an GSE&IS Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity along with the requisite responsibilities.  This person should be a ladder faculty member—preferably at the Professor rank.  While the Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity would serve in the Dean’s Cabinet, she/he would also serve as the GSE&IS Chief Diversity Officer with direct line of communication with the UCLA Chief Diversity Officer(s).[4]  The Associate Dean would help shape policies, procedures, and practices related to racial/ethnic, and sex/gender equity and diversity in all units of the GSE&IS.[5]  The Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity would be responsible for and provide guidance in the implementation of Recommendations #2 through #7.  This position should have the essential resources for the Associate Dean to carry out her/his responsibilities.

 

Recommendation #2—GSE&IS Committee on Equity and Diversity

 

The Committee recommends the creation of a permanent GSE&IS Committee on Equity and Diversity.  This Committee will serve as the voice and action team on issues related to racial, ethnic, gender, sexuality, and disability bias, equity, and diversity in the GSE&IS.  This Committee will also advise the Dean, Dean’s Cabinet, Department Chairs, and Division/Program Heads on matters affecting recruitment, selection and retention of tenure and non-tenure track faculty to support the GSE&IS goals of equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice.  The members of the Committee will be made up of senate and non-senate faculty, staff, and students from both Departments and Professional Programs in the GSE&IS.  As with other standing Committees in the GSE&IS, members will be elected by their respective units.[6]  The Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity will co-chair the Committee along with another elected chair from the members of the Committee.  The Committee’s work will be reported on a regular basis to the faculty at the All Personnel Meetings (Fall and Winter) and when needed.

 

Recommendation #3—GSE&IS Grievance Process

 

The Committee recommends the development of a GSE&IS Grievance Process for students, staff, and faculty regarding incidents of racial, ethnic, gender, disability, religion, and sexuality bias.  This system is currently under development led by Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Patricia McDonough.  The Committee on Race and Ethnic Relations supports this effort.  We are recommending that the Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity be responsible for the oversight and coordination of the GSE&IS Grievance Process.  The Associate Dean takes first responsibility for organizing a response to grievances in the GSE&IS.  Using data from the Grievance Process and other sources, the Associate Dean will also prepare a report at the end of each quarter cataloguing grievances and incidents of racial, ethnic, gender, sexuality, religion, and disability bias in the GSE&IS community.  The Associate Dean will share this Grievance Process with the GSE&IS community at Convocation at the beginning of each academic year and when needed.

 

Recommendation #4—GSE&IS Climate Assessment

 

The Committee recommends a regular on-going GSE&IS Climate Assessment.  With the consultation of the Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity and the GSE&IS Committee on Equity and Diversity (Recommendation #2), this can take the form of surveys, focus groups, course evaluations, and other methods of assessment.  Students, staff, administration, and faculty will be asked to participate in assessing the race, ethnic, gender, sexuality, religion, and disability climate in the GSE&IS.  In addition to providing the GSE&IS with critical and actionable information, the assessment will also serve as an ongoing data collection process that can be used to understand and improve the teaching and learning climate of the GSE&IS.  The Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity and the GSE&IS Committee on Equity and Diversity will be responsible for planning and monitoring these regular on-going GSE&IS Climate Assessments.

 

Recommendation #5—Professional Development

 

The Committee recommends regular on-going Professional Development for all students, staff, administration, and faculty.  With the consultation of the Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity and the GSE&IS Committee on Equity and Diversity, this Professional Development will focus on curricula, pedagogy, and mentoring issues related to racial, ethnic, gender, sexuality, religion, and disability bias, equity, and diversity in and out of the GSE&IS.  Through this Professional Development, the Associate Dean and GSE&IS Committee on Equity and Diversity will provide leadership and strategic direction in creating and nurturing a school climate that is welcoming, inclusive, respectful, just, and free from all forms of discrimination and harassment.  The Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity and the GSE&IS Committee on Equity and Diversity will be responsible for planning this Professional Development.

 

Recommendation #6—GSE&IS Support for Students

 

Students need an array of supports – financial, social, and academic – to pursue scholarly interests and contribute to a vibrant and collegial intellectual community.  This need is particularly felt amongst students who are first-generation college-goers, and hence strong supports are essential for advancing GSE&IS’s social justice mission.  The Committee recommends that the Dean establish a GSE&IS Committee to assess and report to the Dean on the sufficiency of financial support and the quality of faculty mentoring available to students across our educational programs.  This assessment should consider how financial support and mentoring differ across departments, divisions, and programs as well as how supports in GSE&IS compare with those provided to students at comparable institutions across the country.  We also believe this effort can be well-informed through consideration of the admissions process and how it intersects with issues of financial support, sufficient access to mentoring, and diversity throughout the school.

 

Recommendation 7:  GSE&IS Support for Intellectual Engagement Around Issues of Diversity

 

The Committee recommends that the Dean work with the Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity and the GSE&IS Committee on Equity and Diversity to promote and incentivize intellectual opportunities (such as conferences, seminars, and/or speaker series) that bring together ladder and clinical faculty, doctoral and professional students, and staff to examine the meaning and possibilities of diversity in Education and Information Studies.

 

We trust that action in this set of recommendations will move the GSE&IS forward in meeting our goals of equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice.

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Epilogue

 

The students, staff, and faculty of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies have and continue to go through a painful period in our history.  The leadership of the GSE&IS identified the racial climate challenges that emerged in the Fall Quarter and moved quickly and decisively to address them.  To meet those challenges, the Committee on Race and Ethnic Relations went through a rigorous process of discussion, reflection, and revision to produce the recommendations included in this Report.  It is the Committee’s expectation that this Final Report will serve as an equity, diversity, and social justice roadmap for the GSE&IS.  This Report and its recommendations are the continuing steps in the GSE&IS’s commitment to educational equity, diversity, and social justice in all aspects of our mission.



[1] Hurtado, S., Milem, J., Clayton-Pedersen, A., & Allen, W.  (1999).  Enacting Diverse Learning Environments: Improving the Climate for Racial/Ethnic Diversity in Higher Education.  ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report Vol 26 No 8. Washington DC: The George Washington University, Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

[2] UCLA defines underrepresented minorities as “domestic faculty or students identified as American Indian/Native American, African American/Black, Mexican American/Chicano, Latino/Other Hispanic, and Filipino.”  In 2011-12, 39% of the Education faculty and 42% of its graduate students were underrepresented minorities.  In addition, 41% of the faculty and 71% of the graduate students were women.  These numbers show that the Education Department is one of the most structurally diverse Departments at UCLA.  However, as the incidents on November 14th show, there is an area of academic diversity that the Department and the GSE&IS could work on.  As the student protest demonstrated, there can be a greater diversity and appreciation of various theoretical, methodological, or epistemological frameworks (e.g. critical, qualitative, and feminist).

[3] The Committee may have additional recommendations as we move forward in our charge.

[4] These UCLA Chief Diversity Officer(s) are yet to be established but as far as we know the GSE&IS and the Law School are the first units to be recommending this position along with its requisite responsibilities.

[5] This would include issues related to faculty and student diversity.  For example, the Committee is recommending that the Department Chairs meet with the Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity before Departmental searches begin.  Also, the Committee is recommending that all members of faculty search committees participate in the campus-wide diversity training  that now only includes search committee chairs.

[6] In the first year (2014-15), the Committee will be appointed by the Departmental Chairs in consultation with the Associate Dean for Equity and Diversity.