Smith’s Office for Equity and Inclusion (OEI) was created in 1996 with the belief that diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the educational environment is necessary for achieving the highest level of academic excellence. We believe that when a community is rich with varying perspectives, outlooks and values, the potential to prepare its members to deal more readily with complexity and to participate productively in a pluralistic society is greatly increased.
OEI includes Smith’s Chief Diversity Officer, the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion; the Title IX Coordinator and Institutional Equity Officer; two staff members in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Dean for Multicultural Affairs and the Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs; and the Director of Religious and Spiritual Life and her team.
From COMMON GROUND: COMMUNITY IN DIVERSITY AT SMITH COLLEGE: “Creating a community that is accepting and respectful of all its members is not simply one of our goals; rather, the vision of such a community must be recognized as central to every aspect of the priorities for the college, from curriculum to co-curriculum, associated with providing an excellent education.”
Smith College fosters free access to knowledge, its unfettered discovery and communication through research and education and the creation and sustenance of a community of scholars, students and staff. The Smith community can realize these goals only in an atmosphere of trust and respect. The college aspires to create and maintain an educational, working, and living environment that is respectful of differences and free from harassing behavior.
To foster trust and respect in a diverse community, Smith College encourages community members to behave in ways that affirm respect for each other. Within an academic institution, teaching, doing research and learning are subject to the protections of ‘academic freedom’ as described in the college’s policy on academic freedom. Actions or words used in the context of the academic curriculum and teaching environments that serve legitimate and reasonable educational purposes will not be evaluated as violating policies that bar certain behaviors, sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination.
In a diverse community, disagreements and conflicts of various degrees of seriousness are inevitable. The college strongly encourages informal resolution of disputes and conflicts. Many issues are best resolved by direct communication between the individuals involved, sometimes with the help of a third party. Community members are expected to engage in good faith attempts to mediate their differences. To that end, all members of the Smith community are encouraged to use student affairs staff members, human resources staff members, deans, academic department chairs, the chaplains, supervisors, and the director of institutional diversity and equity to discuss concerns and seek resolution to differences.
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