E-Mail from California Institute of Integral Studies President Joseph Subbiondo to Diversity Action Team, April 13, 2006

From: Joseph Subbiondo

Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2006 10:20 AM

To: Diversity Action Team

Cc: Katie McGovern; Leland Van den Daele

Subject: Regarding Today’s Meeting

Dear Members of DAT:

Due to a long standing commitment for my holiday travel, I cannot be at the DAT meeting today. I would appreciate your considering this note in your deliberations today.

Yesterday, on short notice, I called a meeting with students who wrote me a letter regarding their distress over the article that Leland van den Daele wrote and made available to his class — an article that they considered to be extremely racist. To my surprise, more than sixty-five students came to the meeting.

This cross-cultural, cross-gender group of students intensely raised concerns about their educational experience. They could not understand how this article could be included in the CIIS curriculum without any action taken by the Institute. It was apparent that many of the current CIIS student body are extremely frustrated because they expect an engaged and scholarly informed education that will prepare them to be culturally competent professionals; and that they do not believe that this expectation is being met consistently throughout all departments. They believe they have raised these issues repeatedly, indicated their opinions on faculty evaluations, and complained to various program directors – all to no avail. They raised many issues including curriculum quality, academic standards, current scholarship, faculty competence, grievance process, and retaliation by faculty to dissenting faculty and students.

L’esa also attended the meeting, and she and I discussed several question that we would ask DAT to consider today:

  • Would the faculty and academic administrators inform the committee when does “academic freedom in selection of textbooks, audiovisual aids and other teaching materials” fall below academic standards of a “graduate level education”? By what process does the faculty determine this balance?
  • Would DAT, or individuals serving on DAT, recommend to the appropriate faculty committee that it investigate this incident?
  • Would DAT support a reorganization of Human Resources to be Diversity and Human Resources with L’esa Guilian serving as Director and that she appoint a person in human resources for the day-to-day HR functions leaving her with the role of Diversity Coordinator? (The position of Diversity Coordinator is already in the 06-07 budget and is currently held by two students)
  • At the student meeting yesterday, many expressed in the most heartfelt and positive terms the impact that Building Alliances through Differences has made on them, and suggested that this or a similar course or educational experience be required for all students, faculty, and staff. Would DAT act to appoint a committee to consider and develop a course or a co-curricular program proposal that would provide a common educational experience for all CIIS students. The proposal would be brought to the faculty for its consideration. I believe that such a course and/or educational experience would attract students to CIIS as it would embrace the rich diversity of CIIS as well as of the San Francosco Bay Area.

I promised the student group that I would send a letter to the community indicating the steps that we have taken and will take to address this incident; and more importantly, how we will ensure them that CIIS will live its ideals. I need to express that there is an urgency that requires us to act thoughtfully and immediately.

I look forward to your actions as individuals and recommendations as a committee so that I can include them in my letter which I hope to get out tomorrow.

Thank you for your prompt consideration and attention, Joe




Schools: California Institute of Integral Studies Cases: California Institute of Integral Studies: Assault on Professor’s Academic Freedom