With four different recommendations for cultural competency training on the table, the College Council will meet Dec. 12 to hear testimony from the instructors who would be affected by the new policy.
The recommendations were all rejected in May 2013 after the College Council failed to find a compromise.
“Cultural competency training is necessary for instructors,” said Paul Zito, the student government president, because “we have (heard) a very large amount of personal stories from students who’ve been in classrooms and experienced that disrespect.”
Lane’s student government, the Associated Students of Lane Community College, has submitted a policy this year, which places responsibility of designing and implementing the policy on the Diversity Office and division deans, and requires all employees to attend 18 hours of training a year.
The Lane Community College Education Association, Lane’s faculty union, has also submitted a proposal that would place responsibility of designing and implementing the policy on Lane’s College Administration and Lane Workgroup Representatives, and would ensure they support employees attempting to meet this expectation.
In a faculty-wide email sent Nov. 14, Salt described the union’s stance, that the initial proposals placed the
focus “on problematic faculty statements and behavior. … Which means these issues are our responsibility to address and can largely only be addressed by us. … The fact that student proponents don’t get that is understandable; the fact that the administration rejects it is indicative of a broader problem.”
In the email’s closing paragraph, Salt drew on lessons from his own class.
“Finally, we recognize, of course, the sensitivity of this issue,” Salt wrote. “As I say in my own courses on race and ethnicity, ‘Talking about race, racism and related matters is probably the hardest conversation to have in the U.S. today’ … . But as I also say, ‘We are all responsible for ensuring that we can talk about it, and that we do talk about it in appropriate ways,’ and I’m confident that we can and will.”
The debate is part of a discussion that some, such as Lane ethnic studies instructor Mark Harris, said has been going on for more than two decades.
“I sent an email out once and got about 23 responses: ‘Yes, we should have mandatory cultural competency training.’ So the head of the faculty union is not representing us on this matter,” Harris said.
“Please know that we’ve hesitated to communicate in depth about these developments, preferring to bring all
parties together and work out our differences in private,” he said in the email. “If you have opportunities to communicate with student leaders on this matter, please assure them that you, and the faculty as a whole,
are responsive to their concerns, and want to work with them. “
Zito said he is concerned the faculty union is pushing for autonomy when conducting the training.
“As wonderful as that sounds … it shouldn’t take this many concerned students to bring it up. (Instructors are) the ones in those positions, they see those things happening and they have yet to deal with it themselves,” he said. “They’re not here to put anyone down or to be bigots or whatever. But with the lack of participation in dealing with those issues in the past, I don’t think it would be right for them to develop it
when they’re coming into it this late in the game.”
In the past, discussions regarding the need for cultural competency training have ebbed and flowed, Lane
political science instructor Steve Candee said.
“It’s been driven by particular incidents that will happen and then, after a discussion, a suggestion will be made to (provide) sensitivity training,” he said.
Candee, who played no role in crafting the proposals, said the last incident he could recall happened “five or six years ago,” and the social science department attended “sensitivity training.”
“People attended because they were told they had to, but I doubt the level of commitment they had … was very strong,” he said. “I think it’ll happen, and I think it should happen, but I think in order for it to happen, you definitely have to appease those who are the most resistant in ways that allow them to buy into it. You’re not gonna get everybody, but you’re gonna get a certain percentage.”
At the Nov. 14 College Council meeting, several Lane employees weighed in.
“When we talk about diversity, I always say we’re in a globalized world. We need to have diversity skills,” Advanced Technology adviser Claudia Riumallo said at the meeting. “Sometimes we don’t realize
the micro-aggression we’re perpetuating as an institution. … It doesn’t provide a safe place to
talk, and it doesn’t provide an environment for higher education.
“In a globalizing environment we should know how to listen to different stories, because everybody this room has a different story,” she added.
Information technology analyst Susan Iverson also spoke at the meeting.
“I agree that being sensitive to cultural differences and avoiding discrimination are important. That said, I am insulted by the idea of mandatory cultural competency training or of requiring employees to plan for or report on their professional development efforts in this area,” she said.
Native American programs coordinator James Florendo likes the idea of an 18-hour minimum.
“Eighteen hours a year is a good place to start. Everybody needs it,” Florendo wrote in an email. “The fact that this is even an issue points to the need.”
(Copy Editor Sean Hanson contributed to this report.)