The island of Bermuda has just one institution of higher education serving the population. The two-year Bermuda College offers Associate of Arts, Science and Applied Science degrees, as well as diploma and certificate programs. With only one higher education institution, Black men in Bermuda face an entirely unique experience that has not been the context of previous Colloquia. Following degree attainment at Bermuda College, students seeking further education must travel more than 1,000 miles over the Atlantic to get to the nearest four-year institution, or consider on-line degree options.
Previous Colloquia have brought participants to the United Kingdom, the US Virgin Islands, Georgia and Jamaica, but even among other island sites, Bermuda contrasts and compliments the topics in higher education the Colloquium has seen before. With just 35 full time faculty and an average class size of 15 students, Bermuda College is an interesting and thought-provoking case study that is in concert with the goals of the Colloquium and shows the multitude and unique array of Black male experiences.
Finally, the Colloquium strives to not just present research, have meaningful discussions, and provide networking opportunities, but also endeavors to create local change and impact at each of the sites that host the Colloquium. Last year in Jamaica, the College Academy helped prepare local high school students to further their education, which proved to be impactful for all involved. This year in Hamilton, Bermuda, new Colloquium events will be introduced, including the Community Conversations and Policy Round Table. Colloquium leadership is working closely with Dr. Duranda Greene, president of Bermuda College, along with prominent personnel within the Bermuda Department of Education, who are actively involved in the planning and community engagement efforts of this years hallmark event.
Registration is currently open for the Colloquium which is being held October 4-7, 2016. In order to ensure that no voice is absent from the 2016 program in Bermuda, the proposal submission deadline has been extended to Monday, July 25, 2016. For information on how to submit a proposal, please see the Invitation to Participate.
This semester, there have been two notable arrests at UW-Madison for graffiti.
On April 14, Denzel J. McDonald, 21, a UW-Madison student, was arrested on 11 criminal counts for graffiti and one count of disorderly conduct for threatening a bystander. After a lengthy investigation and collection of evidence, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department concluded that McDonald was responsible for the rash of graffiti on campus structures and buildings signed by “God.”
On April 27, Timothy A. Arnold of Madison was arrested on for eight counts of Criminal Damage to Property. Arnold, who is not affiliated with the university, was a person of interest in the graffiti cases of the Wolfsangel and Valknut symbols, which are tied to white supremacy and Nazism, painted throughout the UW-Madison campus and the downtown area, on or near buildings affiliated with Jewish organizations. Two days later, a hate crime enhancer was added to the charges against Arnold.
While the crimes in these two cases overlap to a degree, they also represent the two poles of what many have called a toxic environment for people of color on the UW-Madison campus. “By some accounts, 44 hate/bias incidents have been reported since January, with 23 reported in the Fall semester.” Those statistics come from an op-ed piece written by Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education Jerlando F. L. Jackson, and published on May 2, in Education Dive. He continued, “At a time when current events happening on college campuses provide a demarcation in time for the history of higher education, this has put an increased strain on members of those targeted minority groups.”
Prior to the arrest of Arnold, frustrations on campus were building, as campus activists questioned why UW police were unable to arrest the people responsible for the Wolfsangel and Valknut graffiti, but potentially violated procedure by interrupting a class to arrest McDonald.
Reacting to McDonald’s arrest, more than 500 UW-Madison faculty, academic staff, and graduate students have signed a letter titled “UWPD: No More Anti-Black Racism on Campus,” calling for an end to racist practices on campus. The letter questioned whether the content of the graffiti served as rationale for the officers to use a “public display of force.”
In response to the cultural climate on campus, Sean T. Frazier, former Deputy Director of Athletics at UW-Madison said, “I am extremely proud of my past UW experience and graduate education, but very concerned about recent reports of having an unhealthy climate for minority students on campus!”
Frazier, who is now Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics at Northern Illinois University, established and led the Diversity Integration Group (DIG) at UW-Madison, which guided diversity progress in the athletic department. He continued, “In the spirit of the ‘Wisconsin Idea’ which speaks to a belief in people and faith in the application of intelligence and reason to the problems of society, UW must dig deep to create a shared agenda for all who attend this great University!”
“I am extremely proud of my past UW experience and graduate education, but very concerned about recent reports of having an unhealthy climate for minority students on campus!”
The other item the McDonald and Arnold arrests have in common is that they are forcing UW-Madison administrators to reevaluate race relations on campus.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Chancellor Rebecca Blank and other top UW-Madison administrators will take part in cultural competency training this summer. Additionally, on May 2, the Faculty Senate voted on a resolution that states, in part,
we resolve [t]o support comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion professional development for all faculty; [t]o commit to participate in such professional development on an ongoing basis; [t]o support initiatives proposed by the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement to change the culture on our campus; and [t]o work closely with the leadership within our school or college, each other as colleagues, our students, and our staff to ensure that our teaching and our work, to the greatest extent possible, engages cultural competency and humility, diversity, and inclusion.
The Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement at UW-Madison, referenced in the Faculty Senate resolution above, states that it is committed to influencing and improving people’s lives beyond the university by championing and safeguarding diversity as an essential focus of a great public university.
Damon A. Williams, Senior Vice President, Chief Educational and Youth Development Officer at The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, was Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer at UW-Madison from 2008 to 2013 and led the creation of that Division.
When asked to comment on the current cultural climate at UW-Madison, Dr. Williams said, “The recent rash of negative campus climate issues will hopefully not dissuade students from attending a great university that has made powerful strides over the last decade and truly had much to be proud of as they work towards an environment that is inclusive for all.”
He continued, “The work that we did building the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement at UW-Madison was a national best practice that allowed us to consolidate resources, increase impact, and align efforts across campus to drive even greater diversity and inclusion outcomes both on campus and in the broader Madison community.”
Reflecting on the campus climate, Dr. Jackson said in his op-ed, “These times will be recorded alongside other historical periods of student unrest that forced institutions to hear their voices and subsequently change. College students are demanding change across this country, and UW-Madison has not been exempt from this process.”
Graffiti is not the only example of racial tension on campus. Other incidents have been reported on social media through the hashtag #TheRealUW. Frustrated that campus leadership defaults to having hate and bias acts termed “incidents,” transgressions are being disseminated by #TheRealUW, to the point where The Chazen Museum of Art hosted Unhood Yourself: The Real UW One-Day Exhibition, a multimedia art response to recent bias incidents and a climate of intolerance on the UW–Madison campus. Per the artist, “#TheRealUW is a movement and campaign that has recently gained momentum following a string of bias incidents that occurred on UW–Madison’s campus this year. [W]e the students of #TheRealUW put together this event to bring awareness of the experiences of people of color on this campus, to educate this campus on its own history and legacy, and to give students of color a platform to share their experiences in and around this campus in an open, receptive, and artistic space.”
One specific incidents reported on #TheRealUW prompted Patrick Sims, Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate, to create a video that was unusually blunt in describing what had happened and showing how frustrated he was.
“To whoever slipped the message under the student’s door,” Sims said, “I can’t believe the person has such a lack of respect for human dignity.” He also pulled no punches in describing the atmosphere created by such actions. He said the university was experiencing with an incident like the note “the kind of hatred we haven’t seen since Jim Crow. Enough is enough,” he said. “This has got to stop.”
“As many of us have known for some time, and others are coming to see, there remains much more work to be done.”
Perhaps it was Sims’ honest and unvarnished reaction to the situation that prompted LaVar J. Charleston, Assistant Director and Senior Research Associate, Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB), to offer the following: “UW’s institutional commitment to increasing equity and inclusion, and supporting research on these essential matters, continues to be one of the hallmarks of this great university. It is this commitment that has shaped many of my most invigorating intellectual and academic experiences, created a unique space for research related to equity and inclusion, and fueled my personal commitment to research that services those whom broader society has tended to leave out of important social, educational and policy conversations.
Charleston, who co-founded the Wei LAB as Assistant Director, is a nationally recognized scholar on broadening participating in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for underrepresented minorities.
“Nevertheless,” he continued, “the seriousness of the issues facing the institution in recent days demands an even greater institutional response and an enhanced commitment to ensuring all campus constituents feel equally safe and have the same unfettered opportunities to achieve success. As many of us have known for some time, and others are coming to see, there remains much more work to be done. However, my experiences with committed faculty, staff, and students heartens my confidence in our ability, as a community, to continue to work together and forge an even better, more inclusive UW-Madison for everyone.”
Charleston echoes the hope that Sims offers later in the video, “Give me the opportunity to try and figure out what the next step is. The plan. The action step. The righteous indignation that doesn’t just sit with me, but that sits with every other member of this campus who thinks this, this, is garbage. This isn’t us.”
Translational & Commercialization Specialist Chris Moss uses his knowledge of business and education to make Wei LAB visions a reality.
In the Wei LAB, the director and research associates are the mad scientists who design research projects, educational equity programs, and related initiatives. They rely on Chris Moss to translate this work to scale for the real world. As the Translational & Commercialization Specialist, Moss assesses our research efforts with real-world markets, applications and related trends in order to translate our research projects and deliverables into commercialized products that can be implemented within colleges, workplace environments and other organizations around the globe.
“I am always asking, ‘Is this marketable? Can we expand it?'” Moss said. “I look at the groups of people involved in the endeavors, like students, professors, businesses and others, and think about what they need and want.”
In order to ensure Wei LAB products and programs are utilized and succeed beyond the UW-Madison landscape, where several pilot programs are implemented, Moss must speak the languages of a diverse network of individuals to narrowly tailor strategies aligned with their needs and interests. Programs that Moss has helped translate to various markets include Beyond the Game and the marketing and planning of the annual International Colloquium on Black Males in Education.
“I am always asking, ‘Is this marketable? Can we expand it?'”
“Planning everything top to bottom” is his role in the Colloquium, Moss said. This includes visiting potential host sites, forming relationships with local partners, being on the ground at the event, and assisting with Colloquium logistics in real time. His role also shapes the future of the Colloquium with regards to its convening, scale, and international partnerships.
As the 5th annual Colloquium is nearly six months away, Moss remains heavily engaged in event activation. This year’s Colloquium, with the theme, “Educational Transitions and Life Trajectories: Bridging Pathways to Success for Black Males,” is anticipated to be the largest convening yet. With registration preparing to launch in the coming weeks, Moss predicts attendance to exceed last year’s meeting of more than 300 global experts, scholars, and industry leaders. For more updates, please follow the Colloquium Twitter on social media.
Part II of this interview will discuss why Bermuda is an ideal site to impact the overall life outcomes of males of color in education.
Wisconsin’s Equity & Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB) Research Associate Walter P. Parrish III will serve as graduate research associate at the American Council on Education, Center for Policy Research and Strategy beginning in May. Parrish will work on various ongoing projects that relate to post-traditional learners, minority-serving institutions, affirmative action, and institutional capacity.
The Center for Policy Research and Strategy (CPRS) conducts research that informs and advises policymakers and college leaders on solutions to systematic and long-term questions. Parrish will work with the center on on-going efforts, which will offer policy recommendations and inform multimillion-dollar grant proposals. Please visit CPRS projects for a listing of select on-going work, which includes the American College President Survey, Minority-Serving Institutions Issue and Policy Brief Series, and Military-connected Students in American Higher Education.
Parrish is one of two candidates selected out of a highly-competitive pool of over 70 applicants. As a graduate research associate at CPRS, Parrish says he is particularly excited to be involved in the American College President Study, the oldest and most exhaustive study on the pipeline into and profile of the college president.
“It is affirming and inspiring to know that diversity-related research is influencing policy and programmatic efforts at the national level…”
“I am ecstatic to contribute to the great work of this team and continue to grow as a higher education professional and scholar.
“I have been interested in ACE for the past year. I’ve always wanted to explore policy work, but I did not think there was a space for my research interests in those spaces. It is affirming and inspiring to know that diversity-related research is influencing policy and programmatic efforts at the national level for students and higher education leaders,” Parrish said.
Parrish is a second year doctoral student at the UW-Madison School of Education, in the department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis. His work primarily explores the nexus between organizational behavior, workforce diversity, and workplace issues and their effects on marginalized faculty and administrators in higher education. In addition, Parrish is a graduate assistant for assessment at UW-Madison’s Multicultural Student Center where he evaluates learning outcomes of social justice trainings and initiatives.
Wei LAB Director Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackson recently shared the 2016 operational campaign: Disrupt to Innovate. This year, Wisconsin’s Equity & Inclusion Laboratory will think beyond the status quo as we seek to address complex issues of diversity, inclusion and equity; to continue to strive to do our work better, but also differently.
Dr. Jackson took inspiration from the thriving startup world, where developers are at the cutting edge of services, devices, and technology, hoping to change the issues they see in their day-to-day lives. Using this mindset as a basis, the Wei LAB will think critically around the practices and research we already have, in order to continue to improve how we address the problems diversity face today.
Read the newest letter from Dr. Jackson below, and share your thoughts with us on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments section.
Wei LAB Assistant Director and Senior Research Associate Dr. LaVar J. Charleston spoke on the #Mizzou protests and the role of student athletes in activism on campus.
Part of developing the “student” portion of the student-athlete’s identity puts onus on the university to create the space, whether through scheduling changes, internship opportunities or even leniency if necessary, for athletes to engage in activities outside of their sports that prepare them for life beyond the game.
Read the editorial published in Out of Bounds here.
Charleston serves as an instructor and contributing mind to the Beyond the Game (BTG) Initiative, which seeks to cultivate student athlete’s academic pursuits, as well as assist them in identifying post-graduation career paths outside of sports.
Part 2 of our 2015 International Colloquium on Black Males in Education (#ICBME15) Storify is live NOW!
This installment follows the social media buzz around the stellar lineup of speakers at day 1 of ICBME15. Using the audience participation and our own coverage, we’ll be sharing the story of #ICBME15 over four installments on our Storify account. Click the image below for part 2, day 1 of the 2015 Colloquium.
The 2015 International Colloquium on Black Males in Education brought together scholars, researchers, students, policymakers and champions of Black males. When the Wei LAB called on attendees to continue the dialogue on Twitter using #ICBME15, hundreds of tweets, videos and pictures were shared.
Using these contributions and our own coverage, we’ll be sharing the story of #ICBME15 over four installments on our Storify account. Click the image below for part 1, the arrival in Jamaica and the PreColloquium Academies.
Wei LAB Director and Chief Research Scientist Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackson gave the keynote address “State of Affairs for Black Males in Education: How Data Shapes the Narrative,” to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) Summer Leadership Institute in Green Lake, Wisconsin on July 18, 2015. The talk presented information to school board members and administrators from across the state seeking information and best practices to this challenging issue that persists in education today.
Dr. Jackson returned from the event hopeful and energized about how his research can continue to make a significant difference in educational policy around the state.
“It was clear from the engagement of the audience and questions posed that these school board members were planning to take back data points from my talk to think seriously about the experiences of African American males and other men of color in their school district,” Jackson said. “It is spaces like these that open critical dialogue, grounded in evidence-based research, that can make a difference. ”
As the Wei LAB seeks engagement from fellow practitioners, policymakers and concerned citizens, please visit our Facebook page to join the conversation and share your experiences, expertise and your take on the state of affairs for Black males in education as we continue to work towards fostering equitable and inclusive working and learning environments.