Not to be overly dramatic, but Lane’s lack of a policy on cultural competency is the single greatest nonfinancial issue currently facing the college.
That’s why we encourage members of Lane’s faculty union to join many of their students on the correct side
of history, by demanding their representatives on the College Council find a way to reach consensus on a policy regarding cultural competency as soon as possible.
For a number of years, student activists have been trying to gain enough momentum to pass such a policy, educating its faculty on cultural subtleties and sensitivities in hopes of making Lane a more welcoming place for all.
Max Jensen, a student-advocate for gender and sexual diversity, told Lane’s Board of Education during its Nov. 13 meeting that most incidents of cultural insensitivity on campus are preventable, as they usually are perpetrated by teachers who aren’t bigots at all, but by those who simply don’t know any better.
During the meeting Jensen described situations where students shared their experiences of being marginalized in the class room.
Later in the same meeting, Jim Salt, the faculty union’s president and its representative to the LCCEA on the
College Council, responded to Jensen and addressed the policy in general.
“You heard a story that could only leave you outraged. You heard students were outraged,” Salt said. “What
kind of right-wingers, racists, misogynists, liars and other things people have been called, could possibly be
getting in the way of a policy when we’re all on the same page? Well, let me tell you some of the people who are opposed to it … ”
Salt went on to list several people by name, all of them “anti-racists,” as he put it.
According to Salt, just because consensus wasn’t reached, does not mean he or anyone else on the faculty
opposes the contents of the policy.
In a June interview with The Torch, Salt said his issue with cultural competency at the time was the wording of the policies, which he said required faculty members to take additional hours out of their schedules to be “forced to learn” about how to not be ignorant.
The fact is, teachers should be required to posses the necessary skills to teach their students without offending them, at all costs.
This is not to lay cultural responsibility entirely on instructors’ shoulders. We’ve heard offensive comments from students and community members, too. Such training should be available to them, and we’d like to see mandatory cultural competency training for students as well.
According to the student government’s proposals, instructors would be required to attend 18 hours of such
training. That’s equivalent to two hours per month.
“Is that too much? … I’m a licensed psychologist in this state,” Lane counselor Doug Smyth said at the Nov. 14 College Council meeting. “My requirement for my license for twelve months … that’s 25 hours.”
We don’t think 18 hours is too much, Mr. Smyth. Instructors work with students more than any other position on campus — even psychologists. Lane’s diversity is changing before us, as international enrollment increased by 50 percent this school year.
No amount of additional faculty hours could offset the loss of kinetic energy caused by a single student
turning his or her back on their education due to discrimination, intentional or not.
The socially accepted, sporadically rewarded, prejudices against religion, race and gender identities are arguably still as prevalent in America today as they’ve ever been.
Jensen is correct. The majority of the people who make us bring our palms to our faces aren’t bigots; they’re just unaware of subtleties.
Our status quo was bred from institutionalized prejudice. Even those of us who say we would never take
part in any form of bigotry are still able to benefit from an exploitative social ladder in ways that we could hardly imagine, let alone see.
We have the opportunity as a community to reverse course.
By passing a cultural competency policy, we can take the first step to change the way we learn about social
constructs in academics, allowing future generations the ability to study prejudice and exploitation with no
guilt, no fear and no lies.
We support the faculty in seeking compensation for the time they will be required to spend in training.
All we’re asking from Lane is that they do what they ask Lane students to do every day: Find a way.
That’s why we encourage all of our readers, especially those on the College Council, to put their personal defenses aside and allow themselves to be open to understanding and compassion.
Yasher koach. As-salamu alaykum. In the interest of raising cultural awareness, we urge you to Google these salutations.