I. Minutes to Feb. 3 meeting approved with corrections.
II. Naomi Miller Reports on "Common Ground"
The Common Ground committees have been formed. Since the initiatives resulting from the Common Ground studies will require support from as many constituents as possible, the members of the alumnae committee represent a wide range of class years.
Common Ground committees have covered a lot of territory since their first meeting in December 2004. Among the committee members, Miller has found there’s been a high level of cooperation and respect. Miller noted, as well, that confidentiality and understanding are prerequisites to the process.
Miller said anyone is welcome to contact Common Ground committee members and that soliciting feedback from the Smith community is an ongoing effort of the committees.
One of the things the Common Ground committees have decided thus far is to conduct confidential randomly-selected focus groups for staff, faculty, students and alumnae to determine what the issues are. These groups will be led by a professor of higher education who specializes in diversity research and who has worked among a broad range of instituions and groups.
An example of the kind of question that will be asked of the focus groups is “How can issues of class become visible and how do those issues get heard?”
Miller expects that the research component of Common Ground will be completed in the fall.
Following are some interesting data that have come out of the Common Ground discussion groups thus far concerning perceptions of diversity issues:
For alumnae, diversity issues varied with class years: Graduates from the 1970s were concerned with racial issues; i.e. black and white; 1980s graduates were concerned about multiculturalism; and classes from the 1990s saw diversity issues in terms of gender and sexual orientation.
For members of the campus Common Ground committee the least helpful definition of “diversity” were statistics and quotas by color, and the most helpful definition of “diversity” seemed to be community.
Members of the Alumnae Common Ground Committee live nationwide and therefore conference calls will be the main way they communicate.
During Discovery Weekend, the campus and alumnae groups will get together and discuss their findings as a group.
III. Committee Reports
Nominations & Elections:
President Christ approved Staff Council’s revised bylaws.
There are 13 Staff Council openings and 13 nominations for the 2005-06 term.
A forum is scheduled for late April. The group discussed what brings people to meetings or forums. Some thoughts were movies, current issues, staff morale, changes in payroll. It’s an opporutnity to bring more staff together. The group decided that there needs to be a question and answer period.
One suggested topic for the forum is for the ad hoc parking committee to discuss finalized changes--there have been new rules and regulations since the changes.
Stacey Anasazi is looking for items or comments for the upcoming Chronicle
Next meeting is scheduled for March 8.
Ad Hoc Staff Morale:
Since the issues and possible solutions raised in the Staff Morale Report dovetail with programs and groups already in place--like SAMS, Common Ground and Human Resources--Merrilyn, Steve and Patty met with the leaders of these various groups, including Candace Baer, Carol Fuller, Jennifer Walters; and Naomi Miller, to discuss how these various groups might address the issues raised in the report.
Karen Hebert of Physical Plant was wondering how the above-mentioned groups will reach the appropriate persons.
Patty said that since managers are part of SAMS, that will be a major way that the report will be conveyed.
IV. Old Business
Staff Council will host Brown University staff group for a luncheon on Thursday, April 21.