To our EDC Community

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To our EDC community,

This post is to update you on the EDC’s concerns with involvement in the STLHE EDI Task Force. 

The EDC Executive has been engaging in unlearning and learning for the last few years to understand how our processes and systems perpetuate colonialism, marginalization, and racism. In response to recent actions by STLHE with and through the STLHE EDI Task Force, the EDC Executive proposes “Non-Participation”’ in the STLHE EDI Task Force. We are also in the process of revisiting and revising our EDC Values, Mission, and Living Plan.

Read more for the background, Proposal of Non-Participation, and the commitments outlined by the EDC selection committee co-created with EDC Executive and colleagues with expertise and lived experiences in their September 21, 2020 letter “To the Chair of the STLHE and the Chair of the STLHE’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Background

In July 2020, the STLHE board of directors struck an STLHE EDI Task Force. The STLHE EDI Task Force comes at a pivotal time in our global social context that demands of higher education deep, critical, self-reflexivity and emboldened commitment to change. 

August 3, 2020: The Task Force was publicly announced, with an application deadline of August 19, 2020

As a constituency group, the EDC Executive was asked to identify a selection process for the EDI Task Force EDC Representative. The EDC, in light of our values of openness, collaboration, and in commitment to unlearning, relearning, and action, identified that our Executive needed the lived experiences and expertise of colleagues whose perspectives addressed key gaps in our own – to put it boldly, we recognized that we are all white-presenting people who have lived experiences privileged and powered by our whiteness and that we could not responsibly do the work of choosing our Task Force Representative from our limited perspectives alone. To centre and empower wider voices, we created a Selection Committee in which EDC Executive members did not outnumber those whose perspectives are critical to the work. The process was one of centering anti-racism, Indigenous, and decolonizing perspectives, as well as intersectional lived experiences.

The names and accompanying 150-word statements of interest for those individuals who indicated an interest in serving as the EDC Representative to the Task Force were shared with the EDC Chair in late August.  

Task Force leadership requested that a decision be made prior to the week of September 7th (when the STLHE originally intended to announce the Task Force membership).  

The EDC Selection Committee first met to consider applications: August 31st.

Following that meeting and a subsequent meeting in early September, two emails were sent to STLHE EDI Task Force leadership, indicating that the EDC Selection Committee had concerns about the process and that their deliberations were ongoing. During this period, the STLHE Task Force continued to move forward with their coordination efforts, announcing that the Task Force members had been selected and scheduling the inaugural Task Force meeting via the listserv on September 17th.

After multiple deliberations, the EDC Selection Committee returned time and again to the same deep concerns about the EDI Task Force call and selection processes. The Committee collectively determined that these would be best captured in a letter. Attached is that letter from the EDC Selection Committee sharing concerns and outlining requests for three key commitments by STLHE and the STLHE EDI Task Force. This letter was sent to the President of the STLHE and the Chair of the STLHE EDI Task Force on September 21st.  

September 22nd, late evening: The STLHE EDI Task Force and STLHE leaders responded, offering three possible meeting times across September 24th and 25th. Because of the limited notice and existing work commitments outside of their volunteering on the Selection Committee, not all of the Selection Committee members could be present during any of the offered times. The Selection Committee felt it necessary to have the perspectives of each member present in any meeting with STLHE and thus declined to participate in a September 24th or 25th conversation.  

October 8th: Prior to re-engaging the STLHE, the EDC Selection Committee met with the EDC Executive to convey their concerns regarding the response of STLHE to the letter and their subsequent communications. 

Joy Mighty, Chair of the STLHE EDI Task Force, reached out on October 16th to seek another meeting opportunity. All members of the EDC Selection Committee, as well as Joy Mighty and Denise Stockley (President of STLHE) are, as of the writing of this message, scheduled to meet on October 30th, 2020.  On October 28th, with no forewarning to members of the EDC Selection Committee nor the EDC Executive, the STLHE publicly released the names of the EDI Task Force members. They chose not to include any information regarding the individuals’ affiliations to STLHE constituent groups in their announcement, effectively masking the fact that an EDC representative has not been selected. This created confusion among those individuals who had put their names forward to serve as EDC representatives on the STLHE EDI Task Force and further demonstrated a lack of regard on the part of the STLHE for the concerns raised by the EDC Selection Committee. 

The EDC Executive, in hearing from our EDC Selection Committee on October 8th, affirmed the three commitments stated in the selection committee’s letter:

  1. A commitment to centering BIPOC and other equity-denied individuals by respectfully engaging them and supporting their agency in the ideation, planning, and enactment of such initiatives.
  2. A commitment to explicit inclusion of Indigenous and anti-racist expertise in the composition of EDI Task Force membership and within the positions allocated to constituent groups. As members of the EDC selection team, we request the ability to name at least two additional representatives onto the Task Force – a dedicated Indigenous/decolonial representative, and a dedicated anti-racism/anti-oppression representative.
  3. A commitment to more meaningful, regular, and respectful engagement of constituent groups and members throughout the remainder of this process and in future initiatives, particularly those focused on addressing racism and fostering equity.

Again, a meeting was set after discussion for October 30th, and on October 28th, STLHE chose to announce the membership of the Task Force prior to meeting with those who raised concerns despite a scheduled meeting two days later.

Based on the learning and unlearning of the EDC Executive along with our Selection Committee, we recognize the necessity of an approach that identifies and challenges rather than perpetuates systems that exclude. The approach of STLHE’s call and responses to the EDC Selection Committee did not build relationships, nor trust. Their response to concerns did not take ownership for the issues and actions that were perpetuating harmful systems and processes, dismissed voices of individuals with lived experience, and did not seek relationships to move forward together.

The EDC Executive have voted to approve sending this letter to our EDC Community to be transparent about the process and considerations and to make this recommendation. We bring it now to you, our community.

Proposal of Non-Participation: The Educational Developers Caucus officially declines participation in the STLHE EDI Task Force and declares we are not represented by the current STLHE EDI Task Force processes.

We will engage with our community. Our doors as always are open to you as your EDC Executive. We will be hosting an opportunity to discuss with our community in the form of an EDC Special Meeting of the Membership – more details to come soon.

In solidarity and in action,

Educational Developers Caucus Executive

Encl. (PDF of September 21, 2020 letter “To the Chair of the STLHE and the Chair of the STLHE’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion)

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