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Community Update

community update

From Regina’s Board reports (September 2017)

Power: A New Framework for Difficult Conversations

In 2016, I completed training with Cedar Barstow on The Right Use of Power (RUP) and since then I have been developing a greater understanding of the relationship between one’s personal power, role power, and status power, and how this framework can be helpful in navigating the concepts and living dynamics of privilege, power and oppression. This has enabled me to see how power is operating in a multitude of dynamic situations and to engage others in conversations about power in a more accessible way. This framework has become a part of our CORE Diversity Seminar and our second level training, The Four I’s of Oppression.  I also often refer to this framework in meetings and interpersonal interactions, and will be offering a specific training on this topic on October.   I believe that Naropa has been a power-averse culture, one in which we are afraid to name power and address both underuses and abuses of power because we believe this could cost us experiences of connection and community.  On the other hand, I believe if we engage in a collective exploration of how power operates on the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and institutional level, we might discover a new meaning to our slogan “Transform yourself, transform the world”.   As RUP teaches, a holistic, “right” understanding and use of power is actually radical—we can view power as simply energy that can be used to effect either positive transformation or abuse and destruction—and I have come to believe that if we were to truly realize, and engage in, the ethical use of our power and privilege, we could co-create a more just world.   

 I believe if we engage in a collective exploration of how power operates on the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and institutional level, we might discover a new meaning to our slogan “Transform yourself, transform the world”.  

 

Highlights of Progress

  • We have welcomed a couple new additions to our team. Sarah Silvas-Bernstein, in addition to remaining Title IX Coordinator, has assumed the responsibilities of Associate Director for Equity Compliance. Sarah’s oversight includes the University's Title IX program and compliance obligations, as well as protected class discrimination and harassment programs and policies, for the benefit of students, faculty and staff. We also have welcomed a new part-time Administrative Assistant, Natalie Schreiber, who is also a student in our undergraduate Contemplative Psychology program.

 

  • We have recently launched a new Equity Compliance and Anti-Discrimination policy which demonstrates Naropa University’s commitment to cultivating a university environment free of harassment, discrimination and violence and which outlines processes which safeguard against such conduct, its reoccurrence and discriminatory effects on members of the Naropa community.

 

  • We are also launching the Community Repair and Support Team (CReST) — a trained university collective committed to supporting and guiding the community towards repair of fractured relationships. In support of efforts towards cultural transformation, CReST utilizes a contemplative, integrated, anti-oppression and restorative practices framework to support community-conscious responses to conflict, complaints, and formal grievances.  In reports of discrimination and bias, CReST is available to assist and support community members through informal and formal processes.  In early August we conducted a 3-day Restorative Practices training. Restorative Practices offer a unique set of processes that can address conflict and violations in a way that honors each individual and cultivates mindfulness, respect, responsibility and relationship.  In this 3-day introductory training, 21 participants from 12 different departments gained a fundamental understanding of restorative practices as well as the ability to implement several restorative justice processes within their offices and in their work with students.  With further funding, we hope to offer additional trainings for other staff and faculty.

In support of efforts towards cultural transformation, CReST utilizes a contemplative, integrated, anti-oppression and restorative practices framework to support community-conscious responses to conflict, complaints, and formal grievances.

 

  • We have also been working closely with Human Resources to undertake a comprehensive review of our practices in the area of recruiting and retaining a diverse work force. This includes a specific goal of diversifying our applicant pools, refining the training and processes of our search committees, reviewing the interview processes and documentation, etc.

 

  • We have begun a new collaboration with the Office of Admissions to do in-service workshops at Denver Public Schools and potentially Boulder High Schools to recruit underrepresented students. The theme is self-love/reframing one’s life story as a form of activism/working with internalized oppression and also will feature a traveling installation, “Love Notes to a Stranger.”

 

  • We now offer a new two-part training, “Being the Change” which guides us into the first phases of Bobbie Harro’s “Cycle of Liberation” from waking up to reaching out.  Breaking from the cycles of socialization that perpetuates oppression, the training explores how to leverage our power and social locations towards collective liberation.  As we work to clear the smog of internalized superiority and inferiority, we explore the unique roles each of us can play in the movement for a more just and equitable society.  We also practice speaking out and naming injustice through role play, develop guidelines to support intergroup dialogue, and engage in micro-activism in real time.

 

  • In collaboration with the Diversity and Inclusivity Cauldron Committee, we launched Developmental Benchmarks Model (DBM) geared toward supporting faculty development and presented this framework at Academic Council, individual departmental trainings, and the faculty retreat.  We have also submitted a proposal to Cauldron and the Faculty Affairs Committee to include a commitment to social transformation in faculty promotion criteria.  Lastly, in collaboration with Candace Walworth, we hope to launch Faculty Learning Communities in October.

As we work to clear the smog of internalized superiority and inferiority, we explore the unique roles each of us can play in the movement for a more just and equitable society.

 

  • We’ve launched the Dharma of Solidarity Series: local community organizations offering workshops this semester (Queer Nature, Creative Strategies for Change, American Friends Service Committee, and Black Lives Matter) that explore such questions as what is the dharma that one relies upon to guide their social actions. The series will explore pathways for individual and collective action on critical local current affairs and seeks to create a sense of place for the Naropa student body and campus in the local social justice ecosystem.  

 

  • We continue to refine a proposal, and work with Development to seek funding for an “Inclusive Community Scholars Program” which would provide an annual cohort of approximately 10-15 economically disadvantaged first-year students with the financial, academic, and social support necessary to persist to completion of their undergraduate degree. Students targeted to participate in the program will be qualified based on economic criteria, and special attention will be paid to the inclusion of historically underrepresented populations and first-generation students. The program will provide enhanced scholarships, subsidized housing, as well as tailored support services for all four years until graduation. Support services will include a summer transition program, specialized proactive advising, academic coaching, academic writing skill development, peer and faculty mentorship, money management and financial aid counseling, community service and internship opportunities, social justice education, social skill development and leadership development. Such services are designed to guide and support students in navigating the university system and environment, as well as to connect them with fellow students, staff, and faculty members to cultivate academic camaraderie and a sense of supported belonging. These services would be “front loaded” during participants’ first year at Naropa and adhere to a developmental model adapting to student needs throughout the four years.

 

  • Lastly, we are in the early stages of planning a summer institute, Resistance and Resilience, around reinvigorating and sustaining contemplative social action, and which would provide an opportunity for those who have engaged in social action over time to both share their wisdom and receive support and inspiration for renewed action. This project will draw from outside budget sources for its implementation.