Dear President Perez,

Thank you for your letter dated August 7, 2020 and for your thoughts and experience you shared on the Melmira episode dated August 28, 2020. We recognize that Gallaudet’s failure to follow through on the agreements made in response to the Latinx Student Union’s (LSU) 2018 letter has caused pain, trauma, hardship, and a loss of trust in the University. As a University, students are at the heart of our experience and community. The President and the members of the Executive Team are personally disappointed that we did not demonstrate stronger responsiveness and caring for you. We are committed to setting this right and we are committed to addressing the issues you brought up in your recent letter on an institutional level.

It is our goal to build a strong collaborative relationship with LSU to build a healthy climate where Latino/a/x/Hispanic and all other students can thrive and feel at home here at Gallaudet.

We also want to thank you and LSU Vice-President Sharon Castillo for participating in the stakeholder meetings to review and give feedback on the Gallaudet Belonging and Equity Priorities.

As requested, we have outlined some action steps that we will take that will directly address the concerns you brought up in both your 2018 and 2020 letters. These action steps will be included in Gallaudet’s Belonging and Equity Imperative which contains our Anti-Racism commitments:

1. The Hate Crimes/Bias Incident Reporting Protocol is a work in progress. Our Director of Equal Opportunity Programs, Sharrell McCaskill, has been working with a cross-disciplinary team to develop those institutional protocols, which will also include a list of resources for students, faculty, and staff who have experienced racism. A plan for communication to the community in instances where racism occurred will be developed as well. The team will share the draft protocol with the University’s shared governance groups and student organizations of color for review and feedback.

This team, led by Ms. McCaskill, includes representatives from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Department of Public Safety (DPS), Human Resources (HR), Office of the Ombuds and the Office of Residence Life and Housing.

This will be part of the Improving the Campus Experience and Climate section of Gallaudet’s Belonging and Equity Imperative plan.

  1. Gallaudet is proposing the establishment of an University-wide social justice committee by January 2021. The committee will consist of representatives from each division, shared governance group, student organizations of color, HR, Equal Opportunity Programs, DPS, Gallaudet University Alumni Association, and others (invitations will be sent out in November 2020). LSU will be invited to send a representative to serve on this committee.

    The purpose of the University-wide social justice committee is to examine concerns, policies, and procedures related to injustices and make recommendations.

    This will be part of the Improving the Campus Experience and Climate section of Gallaudet’s Belonging and Equity Imperative plan.

  2. In collaboration with the Division of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), Gallaudet will continue to listen to and engage diverse students, faculty, and staff. We will talk with individuals both inside and outside Gallaudet, and with organizations including student organizations of color, the Student Body Government (SBG), the Organization for Equity of Staff of Color (OESOC), the Faculty of Color Coalition (FOCC), Black Faculty, and external deaf organizations of color.

    Student engagement, particularly from student organizations of color, will be part of the hiring process for the Department of Public Safety.

    Dialogues between students of color and DPS co-facilitated by EDI and Ombuds will take place at least once per semester.

    Students of color will also be invited to participate in the University hiring process.

    This will be part of the Improving the Campus Experience and Climate section of Gallaudet’s Belonging and Equity Imperative plan.

  3. Facilitating Mindful Dialogues with all students, staff, and faculty. This includes students, staff, and faculty who identify as Latino/a/x/Hispanic. This will also include addressing and developing awareness about the experience of members of our community who are Latino/a/x/Hispanic.

    This is part of the Social Justice and Anti-Racism Leadership Development and Capacity-Building section of Gallaudet’s Belonging and Equity Imperative plan.

  1. Continue to, in conjunction with the Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions, Academic Affairs and Residence Life, strengthen the University’s efforts to recruit, retain, and graduate Latino/a/x/Hispanic and other BIPOC students. Continue to transform University communications and marketing for prospective students to highlight the BIPOC student experience, organizations, and resources available to support BIPOC students to graduation and beyond.

    Part of the efforts in retention is the resuscitation of the Mentoring Program and rejuvenation of Keeping the Promise, both under the leadership of Ms. Thuan Nguyen-Lakrik.

    This will provide direct mentoring and other support for all BIPOC students with an emphasis on first year students.

    Gallaudet Development Office and Financial Services will review and revise

    student financial services policies with anti-racist lens.

    Implement a Student of Color Resource Center to provide space and support for students of color.

    EDI continues to address other pressing issues around equity and inclusion including but not limited to those which impact DeafBlind and other Deaf Plus students in collaboration with the Division of Academic Affairs and the Division of Student Affairs.

    This will be part of the Improving the Student Experience and Sense of Belonging section of Gallaudet’s Belonging and Equity Imperative plan.

  2. Academic Affairs is working aggressively to recruit and hire more deaf BIPOC faculty members and implementing a mentoring program for new faculty with the intention to retain them at Gallaudet and ensuring that they excel. For Academic Year 2020-2021, 18 new faculty have been hired, and 9 of them are BIPOC. We will continue to apprise the community of our progress as part of our reports to the community.

    This is part of the Creating More Welcoming and Stronger Multicultural Learning Experiences & Research and Discovery Opportunities section of Gallaudet’s Belonging and Equity Imperative Plan.

  3. We will continue to provide training, personal development, resources and co- curricular learning opportunities to students through the Students of Color Leadership Institute, and workshops and retreats on leadership, diversity, discrimination, identity development, cultural heritage, racism and other matters for BIPOC students. Additionally, our General Studies redesign includes a more comprehensive and holistic approach to student development that will include identity development, racism and cultural heritage.

Student Affairs will also continue its commitment to sending a cohort of Latino/a/x/Hispanic students to Council de Manos national conference (Student Affairs budgeted and planned to send several Latino/a/x/Hispanic students to the Council de Manos national conference in Connecticut in October 2020, which was postponed to October 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

This work will be included in the Social Justice and Anti-Racism Leadership Development and Capacity-Building, Create More Welcoming and Stronger Multicultural Learning Experiences & Research and Discovery Opportunities, and Improving Student Experience and Sense of Belonging sections of Gallaudet’s Belonging and Equity Imperative plan.

  1. Planning for Heritage and History months has always been done for, in other words, without external input. Now we will shift to a different, collaborative model of planning with. In other words, we will bring LSU and Manos Unidas (MU) into the planning of Hispanic Heritage Month. Other cultural heritage month programs will be planned and executed in a similar manner, with participation from student organizations.

    This will be part of the Improving the Campus Experience and Climate section of Gallaudet’s Belonging and Equity Imperative.

  2. The John Lopez, ’65 Scholarship Fund was started in 2009 and in order to become endowed, $25,000 needed to be raised in five years. After eight years, less than $1,000 was raised and as outlined in the memorandum of understanding, the fund was closed and the monies were rolled into the general endowment fund. Within the guidelines of federal laws related to scholarships designated for students of color, the Office of Development will examine how to revive the John Lopez, ’65 Scholarship Fund and to look at other fund possibilities for scholarships for Latino/a/x/Hispanic students. Our Development and Alumni Relations Office is prepared to work with LSU and other interested parties to fully endow this fund.

    This is part of the “Mandate and integrate racial justice fundraising via the Office of Development” portion of the Accountability and investing in Our Anti- Racism Commitment.

10.There is a Gallaudet University Recognition Committee, which is charged with the responsibility of, among others, naming, unnaming and renaming Campus buildings. We are aware, for instance, of the drive to unname Dawes House, an initiative which we fully support. In order to get this process moving forward, a proposal will need to be developed. We will work with you to identify a faculty or staff member who will collaborate with you to develop a proposal for consideration by the Recognition Committee.

page4image3349248 page4image3351744

This is part of the commitment in “Address concerns brought up regarding Gallaudet University history, buildings and monuments” under the Improving the Campus Experience and Climate section of Gallaudet’s Belonging and Equity Imperative.

11.Diverse students, faculty, and staff will be spotlighted weekly on a rotating basis, highlighting the contribution they make to the larger Gallaudet community.

Diverse students and members of the community at large will make public statements at their events based on the values of belonging and equity.

This will be part of the Improving Community Relations, Communications, and Admissions section of Gallaudet’s Belonging and Equity Imperative.

In the Melmira episode, you and Vice-President Castillo mentioned that LSU has received new information regarding some of the unresolved incidents you listed in the letter. We would like to have a discussion about the new information received.

Thank you for your work with us to develop the commitments above. We appreciate your input and feedback to assure that Gallaudet University will move forward in a more positive and productive manner with LSU and other members of our Latino/a/x/Hispanic community. You are important to us and we promise to work with you toward a more lasting resolution to these matters. We recognize our humanity and realize that Gallaudet may falter on the road ahead, and if we do, we will try to acknowledge it immediately and set the course right. If we appear unaware of our impact, we welcome your direct and immediate feedback so that we can continue to move forward positively in our journey to become a truly anti-racist community.

Sincerely,

Dr. Elizabeth Moore
Interim Chief Diversity Officer
Division of Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

Mr. Travis Imel
Dean, Division of Student Affairs