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One of the most challenging aspects of the ongoing situation between the EDC and the STLHE Board is that there are actually at least three unique, but interconnected, issues at play with overlapping timelines. While the EDC Executive has tried to be as transparent as possible, there have been a variety of communications and meetings about a series of issues that have converged through the October 2020 to April 2021 period. We try to bring those disparate threads together in the paragraphs that follow.
Chronologically, the first issue that was made public were the concerns expressed by the EDC Selection Committee that was tasked with choosing an EDC representative for the STLHE EDI Task Force. These concerns were initially shared via private letter to the STLHE President and the STLHE EDI Task Force Chair. When STLHE publicly announced the EDI Task Force composition, two days ahead of a scheduled meeting with the EDC Selection Committee and with no forewarning to the EDC Executive or the EDC members who had put their names forward to serve as members of the STLHE EDI Task Force, the EDC Executive released this detailed message to the listserv.
Following the release of that message, the EDC Selection Committee engaged in dialogue with the STLHE President and STLHE EDI Task Force Chair. Denise Stockley and Joy Mighty entered into an Indigenous Circle process, agreeing to pause the work of the STLHE EDI Task Force and continue to keep the Circle members informed of decisions as we worked toward a resolution of the concerns. Unfortunately, STLHE then made another public announcement via their listserv on November 24th without forewarning, that confirmed the EDI Task Force work had continued despite their promises. Their actions broke the Circle and damaged trust. This has had ongoing and exceptionally painful ramifications, particularly for Indigenous members of the EDC Selection Committee and the EDC more broadly, and is later referenced in letters and listserv posts by the Indigenous Knowledges Action Group (March 10, 2021 – a letter which was initially sent quietly to the STLHE Board on January 21, 2021, but received no acknowledgement or response) and Jennifer Ward, Tommy Mayberry and Dale Lackeyram (March 31, 2021) regarding the withdrawal of their chapter in Taking Stock 2.0. On December 14th, 2020, the EDC Executive hosted a special meeting of the EDC community to discuss and vote on the following motion: 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. The motion was passed and a notice was distributed to members on December 16th.
In the midst of these situations, the EDC Executive was informed that the STLHE Board had voted to suspend our EDC-member-elected Chair, Carolyn Hoessler for six months (ending April 15, 2021) under Policy 10 (Civility) of the STLHE Bylaws. STLHE refused to alert the EDC community of the suspension and no specific causes for the suspension were shared with the EDC Executive. Carolyn is seeking to overturn this decision, and the case is currently being litigated. The first court appearance took place on January 19th in Saskatchewan. The EDC Executive sent a series of communications via the listserv detailing our knowledge of this process, including notes on Jan 27th and Jan 30th. We also hosted a community conversation during the EDC 2021 Conference and a follow-up public meeting on March 3rd. We aggregated all of the questions asked by members through this period along with responses. On February 26th, a letter signed by approximately 80 EDC members was also sent to the members of the STLHE Board seeking clarity on what further information STLHE would share regarding the suspension of the EDC Chair and how they planned to rebuild trust with the EDC membership.
From the conversations at the Conference and the March 3rd meeting, an EDC Action Group has been formed to consider the future of the EDC and its relationship with STLHE. A call for members of the Action Group was shared via the listserv and the group has now begun its work. We continue to accept names for a “sounding board” group with whom the core Action Group can share their initial ideas to gather input and feedback. We anticipate that the Action Group will update the community on their progress at the EDC General Meeting (GM) typically hosted in conjunction with the STLHE conference in June. We have done our best to collect and consolidate all of the various listserv posts and key documents on the EDC website.
In ongoing solidarity and in continued action,
Educational Developers Caucus Executive