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Advisory Council


We must do better. We will do better.

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The Advisory Council is composed of students, alumni, trustees, faculty, staff, and senior campus and local leadership. Individually and collectively, all of us are committed to helping Hamilton stand in greater solidarity with Black and other marginalized community members.  Our immediate work includes:

  • Conducting active listening sessions with community members;
  • Recommending immediate action steps aimed at transforming Hamilton;
  • Coordinating an external review of Hamilton's existing structures and policies.

In order to form more robust and engaged community-wide strategies, we seek your input. We encourage you to share your stories, ideas, perspectives, and feedback using Be Heard.

The Advisory Council meets weekly and is Co-chaired by Amari Leigh ’21, and Josie Collier ’97, P’14, Alumni Council Chair, and president of the Alumni Association.

Messages

We want you to Be Heard, August 4, 2020

Dear Hamilton Community:

As the co-chairs of Hamilton’s newly formed Advisory Council, we’d like to introduce ourselves. As two Black women, we know what it’s like to navigate this privileged space that feels like it’s not meant for you. Carrying this perspective, our work on this council is deeply personal. With that said, we’d like to tell you about the council and its next steps for improving diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Updates
Over the past six weeks, we have met with Council members weekly to lay the foundation for our group. We made introductions and spent time discussing the council’s values and structure. Now, we’re moving towards action.

Right now, the council hopes to facilitate much needed discussion in our community—including the past efforts of the college, areas we need to work on, and next steps for action. From past initiatives designed to address institutional inequities at Hamilton, we’ve learned there’s no such thing as a short-term fix. We are both members of a section of the larger community that feels ignored and because of this, we want to be thorough and transparent in everything we do as chairs. Ultimately, we want to hear from everyone. We hope that you’ll accept our invitation to this discussion.

As our first step towards transparency, a new Advisory Council webpage was created. Here, we will publish the meeting notes on the webpage after each meeting. You’re invited to “Be Heard.” With this link, any ideas, feedback and stories from all members of our community can be sent directly to specific members or the entire council. After all, this work cannot be completed by one group, one person, or this council alone.

Things to Know
This Council, as a cross-section of the Hamilton Community, belongs to us all. It was created in response to feedback from the community, including from the June 13th Alumni Association meeting to advise the school on the DEI work ahead.

While it’s not a governing body acting on behalf of the administration or trustees, its recommendations will carry weight with the President and senior leadership to implement long-lasting change.

We’ve heard the feedback and understand the perceptions about the appointment of this council. This Council is not a replacement or substitute for other groups focusing on DEI. We hope our efforts together will extend, deepen, and expedite goals of the college with regard to improving equity and inclusion at Hamilton.

Next Steps
First and foremost, we want to acknowledge that other groups in our community are already making progress in diversity, equity and inclusion work —often without acknowledgement and recognition. Since we have both participated in this work on multiple fronts, it is important to us that we emphasize the council is not here to overshadow the work of these groups. Our goal is to work in conjunction with these various groups as we collectively advance equitable and inclusive practices at Hamilton.

Next, we recognize the complexities of this work, so we hired Marta Esquilin to facilitate active listening sessions. We hope these sessions will candidly address the challenges and pain, identify areas which are working but could be improved, and help guide us towards some much-needed healing.

Lastly, this is a defining moment. We have the chance to re-imagine a more inclusive Hamilton — at all levels of the institution.

What does an equitable and inclusive Hamilton look like to you?

We want to know.

Warmest regards,

Amari Leigh ’21 and Josie Collier ’97 P’14

Initial Message from the Advisory Council, June 30, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

We write as members of the newly established Advisory Council to acknowledge the concerns we have heard from many of you. The Council was established to help the College address the ways in which institutionalized oppression manifests at Hamilton College. Work of this magnitude requires input and assistance from all parts of our community, and will entail ongoing discussion and revision of our goals.

The Council is beginning with a discussion of the equity and inclusion work done by the College and the senior staff last year under the leadership of Terry Martinez (our Chief Diversity Officer, Vice President and Dean of Students). To make sustained progress towards the kind of community we all want, which is a just, safe, and inclusive one, this review must be informed by many others in our community. Together, and with open minds, we can create the change that’s needed.

We have reviewed the petition prepared by the Black and Latinx Student Union and supported by many others. We think we have some common goals and that we are striving for the same result. We hope that through further discussion we can solidify an action plan to achieve our shared objectives.

The Council is committed to engaging in the practice of active listening. Council members welcome the opportunity to hear from the students and organizations that have joined in the petition, and from all parts of our community. In that spirit, we hope you will agree to share your experiences and ideas. While we may not be able to meet in person for some time, we can meet virtually in the meantime.

We look forward to working with the entire Hamilton community in our efforts towards creating a more just and equitable institution.

Sincerely,
Hamilton College Advisory Council

Meetings

July 23, 2020

Attendees:
Steve Bellona
Phyllis Breland
Josie Collier
Mark Fedorcik
Todd Franklin
Maria Genao-Homs
Gill King
Amari Leigh
Nick Osarenren
Imad Qasim
Natalie Sanchez
David Saxe
Lisa Trivedi
Caleb Williamson
David Wippman

Unavailable:
Terry Martinez

Agenda:

  • Introductions (40 mins)
  • Hager Sharp presentation
    • DEI webpage
    • Timeline
  • General ideas for AC communications
  • New Business (35 mins) 
    • Lesson from previous task force (Ms. Breland and Caleb) (20 mins)
      • How do we avoid the same mistakes?
      • What was successful/unsuccessful?
      • Reflections
        Are we connecting with other community members and sharing our thoughts on Council/receiving feedback?
  • Old Business (no time given during the meeting -- discuss via email)
  • AC listening session with Marta (schedule via doodle poll)
  • Updates to AC webpage
  • Email process proposal/idea of email response team 
  • Discussion:

The meeting began at 3 p.m. eastern

  1. Hager Sharp joined the group – Samantha Prior, Crystal Brown, Aaron Murphy – to talk about the DEI Website and the effort that they are undertaking with Hamilton. They shared their newly developed strategic roadmap, the plan, and the process. They are now developing the messaging piece and the Council shared thoughts, and reflections on messaging and the value statement.
  2. Webpage – reviewed and discussed the updates and content on the webpage. Stressed the importance of making sure it was not buried deep into the website and accessible from multiple locations on the website.  Gill will make the updates as discussed
  3. Community Message from Council – Amari and Josie will look at the letter again and will work with Gill to send it to the community
  4. Message from David to Community – will go out shortly before the message from the Josie and Amari on behalf of the council
  5. Notes from July 16 - approved

The meeting was adjourned at 4:40 p.m.

July 16, 2020

Attendees:
Steve Bellona
Phyllis Breland
Josie Collier
Todd Franklin
Maria Genao-Homs
Gill King
Amari Leigh
Terry Martinez
Nick Osarenren
Imad Qasim
Natalie Sanchez
Lisa Trivedi
Caleb Williamson
David Wippman

Unavailable:
Mark Fedorcik
David Saxe

Agenda:

  • Introductions - 20 mns 
  • David introduces  Marta Esquilin (DEI Facilitator) 
  • Meeting with Marta Esquilin (DEI Facilitator) 
  • Old Business - 30 mins
  • DEI Webpage (language, location, name of share ideas form link, David's quote/picture, the overall tone)
  • Communications (President's letter, AC letter, Scheduling of letters based on campus mailings)
  • New Business - 40 mins
    • Reflections
    • Ideas for Immediate action items 
    • Introduction of the AC webpage
    • Improve the Our Diverse Community Webpage (ideas/comments from Maria, Terry, Natalie)
    • Schedule listening session for the Advisory Council
    • Provide on demand access to key content re: existing DEI work (where is this info? in archives???, dean of students office, etc)
  • Recap/Next steps  -10 min
    • Follow up steps/ assign owners

Discussion:

The meeting began at 3 p.m. eastern

  1. Marta Esquilin, Associate Dean of the Honors Living-Learning Community and Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Rutgers University Newark (DEI Facilitator) – David W. introduced Marta who has been recommended to facilitate listening sessions with the Council
    1. Marta talked about the work she has done, and we discussed how she can help us with the DEI work that we have to do
    2. Decided to remove New Business topics on today’s agenda so that we could allocate more time for the discussion with Marta. New Business will be handled via email – Josie and Amari will initiate items this week.
    3. Decided to move forward with Marta and David will call Marta as soon as the meeting has ended
  2. 3:45 DEI Webpage (language, location, name of share ideas form link, David's quote/picture, the overall tone)
    1. Hamilton hired  Hager Sharp to help with the DEI website and Advisory Council page, and to advise on overall communications.
    2. Advisory Council page – Josie and Amari will give final language and other webpage updates to Gill to coordinate
    3. Gill will link individual email addresses to photos on DEI webpage
    4. Maria will meet with the Communications team and Hager-Sharp on Friday July 17.  She will be involved in the DEI webpage effort
  3. Communications (President's letter, AC letter, Scheduling of letters based on campus mailings)
    1. Discussed the timing challenge with the volume of emails that are being sent from the College and the possibility of becoming “white noise”
    2. Decided that the message from the Council will come from Josie and Amari rather than the full council – target next week or the week after
    3. Natalie, Todd, Lisa will be on point for communications following the letters
    4. If contacted directly by someone on a Council topic, please share with the Council only if given “permission” by the originator
  4. Ideas for Immediate Action Items – In addition to the listed items, all will work on additional ideas for next week
  5. Reflections 
    1. Each Council member talked about thoughts, priorities, and impressions

The meeting was adjourned at 4:40 p.m.

July 9, 2020

Attendees:
Steve Bellona
Phyllis Breland
Josie Collier
Mark Fedorcik
Todd Franklin
Maria Genao-Homs
Gill King
Amari Leigh
Terry Martinez
Nick Osarenren
Natalie Sanchez
David Saxe, Supervisor
Lisa Trivedi
Caleb Williamson
David Wippman

Our agenda included the following:

  • Old Business
    • Finalize the two letters (one from President Wippman and one from Advisory Council/co-chairs)
    • Update from Dean Maria and Dean Martinez (status on outside facilitator, DEI info)
    • Listening sessions: logistics, scheduling first sessions
  • New Business:
    • New webpage for the Advisory Council

Discussion:

Letters:

  • We decided to hold off on mailing the letters until we can add some wording that aligns with the website introductory paragraphs, including goals and objectives – Lisa and Natalie to work on updated language, target date July 14 for group comment.
  • Need to be mindful of additional mailings from the College so that the Advisory Council letter doesn’t get lost in all the email traffic, if possible.
  • Suggestion that we look at the “transitions mailings” and plan around those communications – Terry will get that schedule.

Advisory Council Webpage:

  • The webpage has been established.
  • We spent time discussing where the webpage should appear. It currently hangs off the President’s webpage. The group decided it would be best for the webpage to hang off the following areas:
    • Alumni
    • About
    • Student Life
    • Academic Affairs
    • Or, as its own entity from the main Hamilton webpage
  • Gill will follow up re: adding the link to more than one webpage.
  • We will invite Melissa Richards, VP for Communications and Marketing, to a subsequent meeting to get her insights.
  • We also discussed the current DEI webpage and the need to update it, which was in process when Covid-19 hit. Terry has already met with communications and has provided additional resources and suggestions (including updating the photos).
  • Modifications to the Advisory Council’s webpage were recommended and Gill and Natalie will explore the feasibility, specifically:
    • Ability to click on an AC member’s photo to send an individual email to the person.
    • With regard to the Google form inviting comments from the webpage:
      • Allow anonymous submission by making name and email address optional
      • Add a drop down to categorize the topic, including commendations, challenges, action items, other
      • Checkbox to indicate whether the recipient can share the content with the whole Council
  • All agreed that we need to add the meeting schedule, agendas, and minutes to the website. Going forward we will begin each meeting with a motion to accept and post the meeting notes from the previous meeting. Gill to ensure follow through.

DEI Goals and Facilitator Update

  • Terry reported that the divisional goals have been added to the shared drive.
  • David W. has a list of potential facilitators for the listening sessions and has a call set up to talk to one of them. Another indicated that he/she is not available for an initial conversation until late July.
  • Would like to have names of a/some facilitators by next week – Terry and David
  • Maria reported that she has talked to some members of BLSU as well as other students and she said they are in pain and “traumatized”. She stressed the importance of using a facilitator who can focus on healing because this is what many members of our community need right now.
  • Todd has a document with ideas for next action items (some align with feedback received from BLSU) and he will post it to the shared drive.

Other items:

  • The Council discussed compensation for student members and decided not to act at this time.
  • We talked about how/if/when we can work with those who do not want to work with us. How can we best build relationships across the board?
  • We talked about the structure of the Council at some length. Do we have sub-committees? Are we the facilitators? Are we the workers? What is most effective? Do we add more members? Everyone was asked to think about the structure for discussion next week.
  • Listening sessions – all agree they are very important; can we do them in person somehow? Make sure we include faculty and staff as well?
  • Each member shared his/her thoughts about the work we are doing (reflections will be added to the agenda moving forward)

Action Items:

  • Lisa and Natalie to work on website language and additional content for the letters including goals and objectives – target date July 14
  • Terry will get the “transitions mailings” schedule  and will post it to the shared drive
  • Gill will explore possibilities for the placement of the Advisory Council webpage on the Hamilton site
  • Natalie and Gill will work on modifications to the google form for submitting experiences and ideas to the Council
  • Gill will make sure that we add an agenda item to accept notes/minutes from the previous week and will post them to the webpage
  • Todd will post his next action steps ideas to the shared drive
  • Terry/David – name(s) of a facilitator by next week if possible
  • All need to think about the Council structure for next week
  • All need to note Josie’s new email address hamalumpres@gmail.com

July 2, 2020

Welcome

  • Introduce Nick

Old Business

  • Decision on Co-chairs
  • Review email response to community message [please see the attached]

New Business

  • Discuss Council structure and schedule  
  • Listening sessions: content, logistics, initial sessions  
  • Walk through of shared drive and materials
  • Ideas for next meeting agenda (see below)

Next meeting ideas

  • Creation of Goals 
  • Listening sessions schedule
  • Action plan in response to community concerns

Discussion

  • Old Business
    • Co-chairs for the Council are Amari Leigh and Josie Collier. The Council expressed thanks and remarked on our confidence in their leadership.
    • The shared drive was established and shared with all council members
      • Items to add to the shared drive include
        • emails were received in response to the community message via the advisory-council@hamilton.edu mailbox.
        • resources to help with DEI work
        • meeting notes
        • Communications (within the council and to/from the community)
    • The automatic response wording for the AC mailbox needs to be developed. We will revisit this at our next meeting.
    • Advisory Council webpage development review on the Hamilton website was discussed.
      • Beyond informational content, we want the website to provide a platform for the community to ask a question, make suggestions, offer to help, and perhaps to record or video a message.
  • New Business
    • Creation of Goals
    • Discussed terms for members and the co-chairs and agreed that we don’t yet know the answer and agreed on the following:
      • The Council should not be a permanent fixture of the College
      • We need to work to make sure the Council is embraced by the community
      • We need to figure out the end point and then work backwards to determine terms, checkpoints, members etc.
      • Ultimately we want to advise on matters that can/will move the full community forward and then pass the baton to existing entities within the community
    • To devise goals, we talked about having three goals per person that will propel the community forward (this was raised the preceding week as well);
    • We have many groups that are engaged in this work already, including the faculty, student organizations, DMC, MARC, DOS Office, Student Assembly.
    • We should examine the current structure/groups to see if there is work we can help with (e.g are the groups working together on common goals?).
    • Commented on the fact that the work ahead needs to be everyone's work, not just the work of the few groups.
    • We must have accountability across the groups and the community.
    • We discussed the possibility of hiring a new VP for DEI, given that Terry is DoS and the CDO. The group reviewed the current structure which includes Maria Genoa-Homs who is the Associate Dean for DEI and supports the CDO aspect of Terry’s role.
    • Everyone was asked to think about the structure and terms for next week (our “homework”).

Listening Sessions

  • We spent a lot of time talking about the listening sessions, including the timing structure, audience, topics etc.
  • Nick and Amari stressed that we want to get some in place quickly – that’s one of the things the students are looking for from this group.
  • David W. mentioned that we have three groups that we can start with right away – ALANA (faculty and staff), MARC (alumni), and the Student Assembly Inclusivity group (students).
  • We need to move forward with inviting these groups asap (in July) and decided that we want an outside facilitator(s) to run the listening sessions. Terry and Maria will work on identifying a facilitator.
  • We can’t stop there – need to have a plan for after listening sessions.
  • Need to be careful how we define “groups”  since many do not identify with any group per se.
  • We talked about issuing a student survey asking what is working, what the challenges are, and what action steps need to be taken. There was concern that the response would be low, or that participation might not be representative.
  • We need to prep for the listening sessions by providing information about where we are, and we need to ask if there is a better way to do thing
  • Imad recommended that we have an initial listening session for the Advisory Council and all agreed that we want to do this before conducting other listening sessions.

Action Items:

  • Move weekly meeting from Fridays at 1 pm to Thursdays 3-4:30 pm (Gill to update mtg invitation)
  • Terry & Maria will provide facilitator(s) info for listening session with Council, ALANA, MARC, and SA
  • Gill will work with Council members on scheduling the sessions
  • Gill will add a topic for the 7/9 meeting on possibilities for those who can’t attend a session, and finding a forum for them to do so
  • Phyllis and Gill will continue to log emails
  • All need to come to next meeting with final thoughts about Council terms and structure

June 26, 2020

Our agenda included the following:

  • Introductions (brief)
  • Purpose, scope of work, and Council structure
  • Discussion and potential action on matters of immediate concern, including the petitions
  • Schedule going forward, including the design of, and audiences for, the listening sessions

Purpose, scope of work, and Council structure

  • Decided to have co-Chairs rather than a Chair and Vice-Chair
  • Discussed whether to rename the Council. Decided upon Hamilton Advisory Council
  • All agreed that the Council needs to be action oriented and focus on facts brought to the council
  • The Council doesn’t have governing power, per se, but recommendations will be very influential with all constituencies (Administration, Board, etc.)
  • The Council will “advise” all constituencies not replace any existing groups
  • Council meetings and all proceedings should be considered a safe space
  • Agreed that the work will take time and is challenging
  • Council members will advocate for their own point of view, and each member should think of three personal/individual priorities for the group as we develop the Council priorities
  • We may add members to the Council, particularly students, in the future
  • Need to understand our current status. Terry Martinez will post the divisional goals and progress toward the goals to the council’s shared drive
  • Terry/Gill will also gather information about the current landscape such as diversity within student and employee populations, growth over time, etc. and will post it to the shared drive
  • The Council recommendations should be aimed at long-term gains and benefits
  • In the beginning, the Council will meet weekly on Fridays at 1 pm. Gill will send a recurring meeting invitation to all

Discussion and potential action on matters of immediate concern, including the petitions

  • Decided that the Council will not make a public statement at this time
  • We discussed the Listening Sessions design and will continue that discussion when we meet next week. Ideas included:
    • Hosting individual sessions with 1-2 Council members to achieve a broad reach
    • Having four or five Council members host a listening session with a group (e.g. ALANA)
    • Aligning listening session Council members with their individual constituencies (students talk to students, Trustees with Board members etc.)
  • Guidance on active listening is widely available and Council members are encouraged to read up on the topic. Terry/Gill will share some resources on the shared drive.

Advisory Council Members

Josie Collier ’97, P’14

Josie Collier ’97, P’14

Chair of the Alumni Council and President of the Alumni Association
hamalumpres@gmail.com

Gill King P’16

Gill King P’16

Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Board of Trustees, ex officio
gking@hamilton.edu

Contact Information


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