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Toward Equity & Inclusion

Panoramic shot showing Chapin House and the Campus Center

Smith College’s strategic plan, Lives of Distinction and Purpose, commits us to building “a just and inclusive campus community founded in respect and trust.” Together, we are called to think, act and speak across difference; to foster belonging; and to change systems and practices that stand in the way of a truly inclusive community. This “living document” reflects commitments and investments made in recent years in support of equity and inclusion; it will be updated regularly in order to make our progress on this critical work accessible and transparent to every member of the Smith College community. 

President Kathleen McCartney, September 2019

Programmatic improvements

  • Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Floyd Cheung is chairing a working group charged with analyzing data from the April 2019 Inclusion in Action conference. The group is distilling themes from the data and creating action teams to explore each theme. The action teams will develop recommendations to share with the campus community and with President McCartney.
  • Dean of the College Susan Etheredge is leading a comprehensive review of the first-year student experience to improve the ways Smith supports incoming students in designing and navigating their curricular and co-curricular paths.
  • OneCards may now carry preferred names. Students, staff and faculty who do not already have their preferred name on their OneCard are able to obtain replacement cards from ITS. (Note: a legal name change still requires formal documentation.) For further information, please consult these instructions on the ITS site
  • Vice President for Information Technology Samantha Earp and Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Floyd Cheung will convene a technology inclusivity working group that will focus on the use of names and pronouns in Banner and Workday, with other systems to be reviewed in a second phase.

New or modified positions

  • The Counseling Center has hired two additional mental health counselors with the capacity to respond effectively to the needs of a diverse student body: Jamecia Estes, LICSW, staff therapist, and Lil Kraus, MSW, postgraduate counseling fellow.
  • As of August 1, 2019, the Office for Equity and Inclusion encompasses the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life.  
  • The Office for Equity and Inclusion hires a program and outreach coordinator, Raven Fowlkes-Witten '17, who will also serve as an advocate for undocumented, trans and gender-nonconforming students. The search for an inclusion education trainer/facilitator who will also serve as an advocate for low-income and first-generation students is underway.
  • The Lazarus Center for Career Development will appoint a staff member specializing in helping international students secure internships and jobs.
  • Author and organizer Loretta Ross holds a one-year appointment as associate professor and activist in the Program for the Study of Women and Gender. Professor Ross and Carrie Baker, professor of the study of women and gender, will host a one-day skill-building conference for students, “Calling In the Calling Out Culture,” to be held February 22, 2020.

New or improved spaces 

  • Facilities Management renovates Martha Wilson House for first-floor accessibility. Scheduled for completion in September 2019. 
  • The Office for Equity and Inclusion is working with Facilities Management to implement gender-inclusive bathroom signage in all non-residential buildings.

Training and development

  • The college institutes a requirement that all current and newly hired staff and faculty complete online Title IX training. The training program “Not Anymore” covers consent, bystander intervention, sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking, and healthy relationships, and integrates Smith College’s Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy.
  • Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Floyd Cheung will lead a team of eight professors to teach IDP102: Thinking Through Race in Spring 2020. Students may earn one credit, and staff and faculty members are welcome to audit.
  • Professor Peggy O’Neil will lead several workshops for faculty and staff who teach to develop critical conversation skills for managing difficult dialogues.
     

Events

  • President McCartney will host a number of inclusion-focused speakers as part of her ongoing Presidential Colloquium series. Speakers of note: Cristina Rodríguez, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy ’02, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Bryan Stevenson.
  • The alumnae relations and development offices host “Dining With Diversity,” a series of panel presentations by alumnae followed by dinner conversation with students of color. The series is supported by a Presidential Innovation Challenge Grant.
  • The 2019 Otelia Cromwell Day celebration focused on the theme “Acknowledging Injustice and Practicing Anti-racism” and featured keynote speaker Deborah Archer '93, a civil rights lawyer, activist and professor. Workshops throughout the afternoon offered opportunities for students, staff and faculty.

Policy changes

  • The college issues statements highlighting changes it has enacted in the areas of policing policies, employee training and support, and communitywide education, all aimed at minimizing the potential for bias in campus policing.

Programmatic improvements

  • In January 2019, the Classroom Committee submits a Learning Spaces Plan to guide renovation of instructional spaces in support of face-to-face teaching and inclusive teaching.
  • A working group of faculty and staff meets throughout summer 2019 to develop pedagogical and curricular strategies to foster equity for all students in introductory gateway courses in the sciences. An institutional team develops a proposal for this work while attending the June 2019 Summer Institute on Equity in the Academic Experience sponsored by Georgetown University, the University of Texas at Austin and the American Talent Initiative.      
  • Following the recommendations of the Residential Experience Working Group, the college expands student housing options by launching a two-year pilot of identity- and interest-based affinity housing; student polling results in Park Annex and Parsons Annex being designated as housing communities “that aim to cultivate and foster a sense of belonging for students of color.”
  • The Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning devotes the bulk of its programming to developing and fostering inclusive classrooms.
  • Staff in the Office of the Dean of the College complete a strategic plan for student mental health, informed by Jed Foundation research and consulting; work with the Jed Foundation continues.

New or modified positions

  • President McCartney appoints Floyd Cheung, professor of English language and literature and of American studies, as vice president for equity and inclusion.
  • Nine tenure-track faculty searches result in the appointment of four faculty members of color.
  • The Provost’s Office appoints Associate Professor of History Elizabeth Pryor to the position of teaching mentor for inclusive and equitable pedagogies.

Financial support

  • President McCartney offers innovation challenge grants to advance inclusion and equity; 39 applications result in 14 awards totaling $103,000. Funded projects include a conference on diversity and inclusion in athletics, classroom visits by children’s book creators of color, and workshops on self-care for people of color. 
  • President McCartney establishes a fund to address the costs of learning disability testing for low-income students.
  • President McCartney launches “Here for Every Voice,” a five-year, $75 million initiative to ensure access for low-income students via endowed and expendable scholarship funds.

Training and development

  • The college requires all staff and faculty to complete mandatory diversity and bias training through the EverFi platform.
  • Members of the President’s Cabinet participate in 12 hours of face-to-face training on critical conversations, identity conscious leadership and understanding bias.
  • Eighteen faculty members participate in 30+ hours of critical conversations training aimed at noticing, naming and discussing issues of power and privilege in the classroom and addressing bias and microaggressions. Training will be expanded to faculty and staff in fall 2019.
  • 120 staff members participate in workshops on such topics such as identity and inclusion, interpersonal communication, and TRANSlation.

Events

  • Funded in part by a $10,000 grant from President McCartney, Smith helps organize a five college conference titled “Intergroup Dialogue: Pedagogy of Possibilities.” Some 250 people from across the country attend. Smith College Trustee Beverly Daniel Tatum gives a keynote address. 
  • President McCartney hosts a number of inclusion-focused speakers as part of her ongoing Presidential Colloquium series. Speakers of note: Freeman Hrabowski, Ijeoma Oluo, G. Gabrielle Starr.
  • A Black Alumni Reunion is held in conjunction with Amherst College. Taking place in Washington, D.C., the event draws more than 100 Smith alumnae and includes a private tour of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. 
  • Colorado State University Professor of Education D-L Stewart presents the Otelia Cromwell Day keynote address. 
  • The dedication of the Wurtele Center for Leadership features a keynote address by ‘me too.’ Movement founder Tarana Burke.
  • The college hosts a daylong, campuswide conference titled Inclusion in Action: Learning and Organizing Across Difference. Harvard Graduate School of Education Assistant Professor Anthony Jack, author of The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, delivers the opening address. 
  • Alumnae Relations hosts a showing of the documentary Suited, showcasing clothing designed for those outside of the gender binary. 
  • Reunions I and II feature receptions for alumnae of color.

Policy changes

  • Faculty approve a new Statement on Inclusion and Equity in the Learning Environment, a companion to the Statement on Academic Freedom and Inclusivity approved by the board of trustees.
  • The college eliminates the requirement that first-year students with work-study positions be assigned to work in dining or housekeeping.
  • The college eliminates dining charges for students staying on campus over Thanksgiving and spring breaks.

Programmatic improvements

  • The offices of the provost, information technology and libraries begin collaborating on an open educational resources project to promote equitable access to curricular materials and textbooks. 
  • The Committee on Educational Technology explores ways to increase students’ access to technology devices for use in and out of the classroom.
  • Smith establishes a working group to address inclusion issues faced by undocumented students.
  • The Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning and the SGA Curriculum Committee partner to launch the first “What I Wish My Professors Knew” and “What I Wish My Students Knew” surveys.

Financial support

  • President McCartney offers innovation challenge grants to advance inclusion and equity; 24 applications result in 16 awards. Funded projects include a program to train students as Dreamer supporters, a career network for African and Caribbean students, a three-part workshop series for staff on inclusive philanthropy and a project to provide equal access to computing resources.

New or improved spaces

  • The college renovates and rededicates the Mwangi Cultural Center.

Events

  • The Office of Alumnae Relations hosts a three-day  Women of Color Conference titled “Persistence, Possibilities and the Power of Our Voices” attended by 150+ alumnae. The conference dovetails with the 50th anniversary of BASC (Black Alumnae of Smith College). 
  • President McCartney hosts a number of inclusion-focused speakers as part of her ongoing Presidential Colloquium series. Speakers of note: Ruby Bridges, Juana María Rodríguez.
  • Author and cultural critic Roxane Gay presents the Otelia Cromwell Day keynote address. 
  • Twenty-two alumnae of color from classes ranging from 1972 to 2017 participate in facilitated focus groups to give feedback on their interactions with the college. 

Institutional advocacy 

  • President McCartney signs college and university presidents’ letter urging U.S. to uphold and continue DACA. (Nov. 21, 2016)

Policy changes

  • The Smith College Board of Trustees votes to clarify Smith’s undergraduate admission policy to include self-identified transgender women. (May 2, 2015)
  • Smith admission begins considering undocumented applicants among the domestic (versus international) applicant pool. (Fall 2016)
  • President McCartney pledges that Smith will “continue to adhere to our policy of not releasing information about students’ citizenship or immigration status unless we are compelled to do so,” and “continue to consider undocumented applicants in the same way as U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and documented nonimmigrants, without discrimination on the basis of their citizenship or immigration status.” (Nov. 28, 2016)

Programmatic improvements

  • Smith joins the American Talent Initiative, an alliance of leading colleges and universities committed to expanding the number of talented low- and moderate-income students at America’s undergraduate institutions. (April 25, 2017)
  • Smith joins Posse, whose programs recruit and select multicultural cohorts of student leaders from public high schools to attend top colleges and universities across the country. (Jan. 16, 2014)
  • The Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning launches the Student-Faculty Pedagogical Partnership Program, designed to pair student partners with faculty working on improving their teaching. (2016)
  • Smith implements NameCoach software, enabling faculty, staff and students to record and share the correct pronunciation of their names. Work to expand Namecoach functionality is ongoing. (2017)
  • Smith creates a website aggregating resources and policies for undocumented students. (2017)

New or modified positions

  • President McCartney elevates role of chief diversity officer to a Cabinet-level position. (2017)
  • President McCartney provides funding to expand staffing in the Office of Multicultural Affairs; the dean of the college appoints an assistant director of multicultural affairs to focus on student development, cultural programming and support for the Unity organizations. (Jan. 2019)

Financial support

  • Smith concludes the “Women for the World” campaign, significantly surpassing the goal of $450 million—including nearly $130 million for financial aid. (Dec. 2016)
  • President McCartney offers innovation challenge grants to advance inclusion and equity; 28 applications result in 11 awards. Funded projects include a student leadership development built around radical deep listening and storytelling, a field trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and a social justice mediation institute. (Sept. 2016)

Training and development

  • Harvard University Professor Mahzarin Banaji, author of Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, presents training on implicit bias to 600+ Smith employees and students. (Oct. 28, 2016)
  • The college conducts a campuswide climate survey, known as Pathways, to understand and address the needs of underserved and underrepresented members of our community; surface the experiences of all community members; and collect data to support the creation of tangible actions to improve campus climate. (2016-17)

New or improved spaces

  • Smith names five new student residences for pioneering Smith alumnae: Cromwell House, after Otelia Cromwell, class of 1900, Smith’s first African American graduate; DeCora House, after Angel DeCora, class of 1896, Smith’s first Native American student; Hashimy House, after Sabiha Yassin Hashimy, class of 1937, Smith’s first Middle Eastern student; Machado House, after Salomé Amelia Machado, class of 1883, Smith’s first Latina student; and Ninomiya House, after Tei Ninomiya, class of 1910, the first Asian student to graduate from Smith. (May 6, 2016)

Events

  • President McCartney hosts a number of inclusion-focused speakers as part of her ongoing Presidential Colloquium series. Speakers of note: Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (March 27, 2017), Ana Navarro (Jan. 24, 2017), Gloria Steinem ’56 (March 28, 2016), Imani Perri (March 1, 2016), Jennifer Finney Boylan (April 30, 2015), Claudia Rankine (Feb. 23, 2015).
  • Poet and activist Sonia Sanchez (Nov. 3, 2016), filmmaker Dawn Porter (Nov. 3, 2015); journalist and public radio host Michele Norris (Nov. 6, 2014); and author, commentator and labor economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux (Nov. 5, 2013) present Otelia Cromwell Day keynote addresses.
  • The Smith-founded journal Meridians, a feminist, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal for and about women of color, celebrates its 16th year with a symposium. Featured guests and speakers include Smith College President Emerita Ruth J. Simmons, as well as Black Lives Matter leaders Janaya Khan and Opal Tometi. The president and provost provide substantial funding for this initiative. (Oct. 6, 2016)