Issues in Progress:

President's Commission on the Status of Minorities

Vice President and Dean for Campus Life Frances Lucas-Tauchar explained at the Commission's Oct. 28 meeting the need for flexibility and multiple approaches when disciplining students who commit acts of bigotry and intolerance.

Lucas-Tauchar said her primary role is that of educator and that whenever possible she tries to make the student conduct and disciplinary processes educational in nature. "We're not a police state at Emory," she said. "A university needs to have a free exchange of ideas." Lucas-Tauchar said she does not want to create a situation where rigid, inflexible disciplinary sanctions have a "chilling effect" on legitimate speech.

Using multiple strategies to address unacceptable student behavior is the best approach, Lucas-Tauchar said. Those strategies, used in many different combinations depending on the context of the violation involved, include removing a student from a residence hall, having the student write a paper on a topic relevant to his or her violation, placing a student on probation, writing a letter of apology to the victim or victims and performing community service.

In extreme cases, where a student who has committed acts of intolerance "just doesn't get it," Lucas-Tauchar said, the student can be removed from the University altogether.

Lucas-Tauchar also pointed to a revised Freshman Orientation process that stresses the importance of diversity. She said that about 45 percent of this year's Freshman Orientation leaders are students of color, which she said sends a strong initial message to freshmen that Emory values and fosters a diverse community.

In addition, Lucas-Tauchar said a search committee is identifying candidates for the new position of dean of students. She said she expects the new dean to focus much of his or her efforts on building a stronger community among the entire student body.

Other initiatives Lucas-Tauchar is working on include strengthening the Study Abroad program, a priority that she said President Bill Chace identified almost immediately upon arriving at Emory, and expanding the scope and capacity of the International Students and Scholars Program. Lucas-Tauchar said the office traditionally has focused on graduate students and scholars, as opposed to undergraduates. Because the number of international undergraduates has increased in recent years, Lucas-Tauchar said, she is committed to ensuring that the program expand to address the unique needs of those students.

Prior to Lucas-Tauchar's presentation, Oxford College Dean Bill Murdy discussed the steps Oxford has taken to recruit minority faculty over the past few years. Murdy said that while 36 percent of the Oxford student body of 600 is composed of minority students, the college had no minority faculty members until just a few years ago. He said Oxford's ability to attract both minority and non-minority faculty is affected by the school's small size and small-town location. For those reasons, Murdy explained, standard recruitment methods proved unsuccessful in minority faculty recruitment.

To address these problems, Murdy and his staff began pursuing a new approach several years ago: growing their own minority faculty. Murdy said the focus of minority faculty recruitment was shifted to Oxford alumni who had gone on to become rising stars in their disciplines and who might be interested in coming back to teach at Oxford to perpetuate the good educational experience they had as undergraduates. The first success for Oxford using this strategy came two years ago with the appointment of Oxford alumnus Ken Carter to teach psychology and sociology.

Murdy said he has used the same strategy this year by recruiting a recent Emory graduate who had attended Oxford to fill a library information technology position. Oxford also is aggressively recruiting minority candidates to fill adjunct faculty positions to replace permanent faculty members on sabbatical.

In other business, Stephen Thomas suggested that the Commission coordinate an Emory community survey of attitudes toward Affirmative Action programs. Thomas said such a survey would help fulfill President Bill Chace's recent request that the Commission help him develop strong arguments for preserving Affirmative Action programs at Emory and in higher education generally.

In discussion of the proposal, Glenn Williams said the survey must make clear that Affirmative Action works to ensure equal opportunity for all, rather than quotas for specific groups. Ken Carter suggested that the survey go beyond asking about whether Affirmative Action should be continued and explore the question of how useful Emory community members have found Affirmative Action programs to be.

Commission Chair Bob Lee asked Thomas and several other members to bring a specific plan forward at the November meeting.

--Dan Treadaway

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