Letter to the Editor: On-campus DEI Response

by All-Campus Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ACDEI), Special to the Simpsonian

We write this response as members of the All-Campus Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ACDEI), but more importantly as members of the Simpson community who, like the anonymous author of the recent letter published by The Simpsonian, are deeply invested in creating a culture of inclusion. 

We are sorry to hear about these incidents and that you may not have felt comfortable reporting them using the channels we have in place at Simpson. We strive to make the reporting process accessible and approachable, and we wish to understand its flaws, as it currently stands. 

We also wish to speak up as a cross-campus committee of students, faculty, staff, and administration because the work of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is something we take very seriously. It is a commitment to which we have volunteered our time to advance our campus, because we know that it takes all of us to learn, grow, and become a community that can be known by its unwavering commitment to ensuring the voices and experiences of marginalized and minoritized groups are not just heard, but uplifted. 

To quote Lilla Watson: “If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” 

We are deeply concerned about the stated fear from the author for students to report on these matters. The Bias Response Advocates, a student-led team, have been working hard for the last two years to implement this process; our structure has recently been developed and instituted, and if we need to adjust, we are open to hearing how the process can improve. 

In case any member of our campus community is not aware of this process, you can access it here: https://simpson.edu/campus-safety/Bias-Reporting-Form 

For positive change to occur, a community must be committed to the challenging work of discomfort, of listening not to respond but to understand and valuing the learning process wherein we can admit when we have made a mistake. When we know better, we do better. 

As we hear often, the work of equity, inclusion, and belonging is a marathon—not a sprint. The only way to keep moving forward is through responsiveness to concerns when they are made known—and a reiteration of our values of showing support (and speaking out) for those who experience harmful instances of bias, racism, belittling, micro-aggressions or anything else that otherwise dehumanizes any person for any aspect of their identity. 

Students, your values and motivations help us to progress. We want to hear from you. We want to know when a process is not accessible or equitable, because that process cannot fairly be utilized unless it works for those who need it. Your energy and passion in pushing our administration to both acknowledge fault and make progress has inspired us and continues to do so. We want to join in learning from and being energized by that passion and using the gifts of our campus students, staff, faculty, and administrators to come to solutions supporting our common goals. Many who have been a part of Simpson for years have witnessed the positive changes in policies and practices that have occurred over time and continue transforming Simpson College into the welcoming and inclusive community we aim to be. 

However, with a shorter lens during their time at Simpson, our students more clearly see the deficiencies of the moment and they rightly remind us of how far the work has yet to go.

If you would like to attend the next ACDEI committee meeting, you are welcome. These meetings are for any member of our campus community committed to the ongoing work of promoting diversity and supporting equity and inclusion efforts on campus, including ongoing communication. ACDEI meets the last Friday of the month 12-1 pm, the next meeting will be April 28 at: https://simpson.zoom.us/j/95718996085#success

As people who are deeply invested – individually and collectively – in creating a culture of inclusion for Simpson College, we respectfully offer these words in the hopes that dialogue around this vital work can continue. We commit to finding ways to ensure that the campus community is aware of our work and that they are fully welcome to be a part of it, too.