Mount St. Mary's University & Montgomery College
Mount St. Mary's University DEI newsletter from the Office of Equity and Success

Welcome to the winter newsletter from the Office of Equity and Success!

The newsletter serves as an educational resource for the Mount community regarding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) topics and informs you of DEI activities on campus. If there’s a subject you would like to see addressed in a future newsletter, please email us at dei@msmary.edu.



In This Issue:



Education Corner Masthead

Celebrate and promote an awareness of Latin American culture on campus with SOL, the Student Organization of Latinos

Meet SOL, the Student Organization of Latinos, a student group whose goal is to celebrate and promote an awareness of Latin American culture on campus. SOL hosts a variety of events both for its club members and for the broader campus community. In addition, SOL engages in advocacy work to support marginalized students on campus.

Participate in SOL

Currently, SOL meets biweekly on Mondays at 5 p.m. in the Center for Student Diversity. All students are invited to attend—you don’t have to be Latino (or Latine) to participate in SOL! During their meetings, they plan events and engage in activities to celebrate Latino culture and provide Latino students with a taste of home. For example, at a meeting in January, the students played a Mexican game called La Lotería, which is like American Bingo, but more complex, educational and creative. SOL has also sponsored trips to a Hispanic grocery store in Frederick, much to the delight of the participants.

Performance at SOL event

Hispanic Heritage Month

SOL works with the Center for Student Diversity (CSD) to plan events for Hispanic Heritage Month. While COVID-19 has made hosting campus-wide events challenging, SOL hosted a performance of Mexican folkloric dances in fall 2020. Last fall, they hosted a panel discussion entitled “The Impact of COVID-19 on the Latine Community” that addressed how the pandemic has affected immigration policy.   

Social Justice on Campus

In addition to programming, members of SOL are active in social justice work on campus. In fall 2020, they conducted a school supply drive for Mount students that was so successful that they are now arranging to donate surplus supplies to the Boys and Girls Club of Frederick. SOL leaders have also met with various vice presidents to discuss how the Mount’s different divisions (e.g., Admissions, Academics, Student Affairs, etc.) can better support Latino students and BIPOC students in general. For example, to make Spanish-speaking parents feel more welcome, they have recommended providing interpreters at Admissions and Orientation events and printing dual-language brochures. They have also advocated for diversifying the curriculum.

SOL’s good work would not be possible without the mentorship and resources provided by the CSD.  SOL President Madelin Sagastume is grateful for the leadership development opportunities provided by their collaboration with CSD. Both Sagastume and Marcos Gonzalez-Sambolin, SOL treasurer, say that the CSD is like a second home to them. They go there to hang out and study and seek valuable advice and support from Director Erica Rousseau and Assistant Director Areli Aguilar-Hill. All students are welcome at the CSD!

If you would like to receive email updates about SOL’s events, please email them at sol@msmary.edu.

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DEI Initiatives Highlight

Assistant Professor of African American Studies Kalfani Turè’s training as both an anthropologist and a police officer gives him a unique perspective in studying the intersection of policing, race and place. He came to the Mount last fall from Yale University, where he served as a postdoctoral associate with the Urban Ethnography Project. He also has extensive teaching experience at Yale, Quinnipiac University, Winthrop University and LeMoyne College.

Professor Ture

Professor Turé has always been interested in social justice and equity. Growing up in Newark, New Jersey, he heard about the 1967 Newark riots sparked by the beating of a Black taxi driver by two white policemen. At Rutgers University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice and African American studies, he wanted to understand how black identity became synonymous with criminality. On the way to his goal of becoming a professor, he followed the advice of an anthropologist mentor who recommended that he become a police officer to conduct a folk ethnography of policing. 

“Folk ethnography finds meaning in social phenomena by being in conversation with people experiencing it. It captures the ways people grapple with the contingencies they confront daily.”

In folk ethnography, the researcher studies people within their own environment and culture. As Turé explains, “Folk ethnography finds meaning in social phenomena by being in conversation with people experiencing it. It captures the ways people grapple with the contingencies they confront daily.” An ethnographer “marries the peoples’ perspectives to theoretical frameworks and tells the story to both an academic and lay audience.”

After he left Rutgers, Turé moved to Georgia and served as a police officer at various levels to better understand the relationship between the community and police. He worked on a state university campus, in a county sheriff’s office, and for a city police department. During his career in law enforcement, he earned his Master of Arts in applied anthropology from Georgia State University, where he studied the experiences of African American adolescent drug dealers in Atlanta public housing. While at Georgia State, he met his future wife and they moved to Maryland for his wife’s career in social work. He earned his doctorate in anthropology at American University. His dissertation research examined the displacement of residents from the Barry Farms public housing community in Southeast D.C. that was demolished in an urban revitalization project.

Turé’s academic training and lived experience as a police officer lead him to a distinct vision of policing: he believes that police officers should function as ethnographers, building relationships in their community, conducting observations, and advocating for change based on their observations. Where should there be more green space? Where are the broken streetlights and nuisance merchants (e.g., pawn shops, payday loan stores, etc.)? Where should we concentrate social workers and social services? Police officers as ethnographers are well-situated to inform the allocation of community-building resources.

Not surprisingly, Turé’s goal as an educator is to recruit and train people who are invested in public safety at large to be ethnographers—to find solutions and create healthy vibrant communities by being in conversation with people. He is excited to pursue that goal at the Mount, where our Catholic identity and commitment to Catholic Social Teaching complement his personal value system and allow him to be true to himself as he continues his journey.

READ MORE about Professor Turé’s dissertation and current research.

DEI Initiatives Highlight

In each newsletter, we will report on progress towards the initiatives listed in Courageous Dialogue, Meaningful Action,
the University DEI Task Force Operational Plan

and the DEI 5-year Strategic Plan (2018-2023).


As part of the Mount’s 5-year DEI Strategic Plan, the ASPIRE Office administers the Campus Climate Survey to students every three years to obtain their views on their experiences related to diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. In this and future newsletters, we will share the results of the 2021 survey, which was conducted in October 2021. We received 318 responses, a 16% response rate. Thank you to the students who responded.

In this issue, we focus on results related to how welcome students feel on campus. Results from 2021 are compared to those from 2018 and 2015.

Our Findings

Since 2015, the percentage of students who find the campus to be very welcoming has increased from 34% to 56%.

Q: In general, how welcoming do you find people at the Mount are to people who are different than themselves?

activities chart

In addition, most students have not felt excluded from activities based on aspects of their identity, and this percentage has grown from 59% to 64%. About a third of students sometimes feel excluded.

Q: How often have you felt excluded from campus activities because of aspects of your identity?

activities chart

While most students rarely feel excluded, students don’t always feel they can completely be their full selves on campus. Since 2015, the percentage of students who feel they must downplay their personal characteristics to fit in has increased from 23% to 43%.

What’s Next?

In future issues, we will share results related to student interactions on campus, opportunities for learning, and assessment of campus DEI programming. A written executive summary of the findings will be shared with the campus community.

Join us for a lunch and learn!
The Mount Inclusive Excellence Committee (MIEC) will also host a “Lunch and Learn” to share the findings of the survey on Tuesday, March 8 from noon to 1 p.m. in O’Hara Dining Room. Contact Gayle Luksic by March 1 to sign up for a free boxed lunch.

The MIEC, the Office of Equity and Success, and the President’s Advisory Council will review the full results of the climate survey and will make recommendations to address the findings of the survey. The survey will also be used to assess and revise the 5-Year DEI Strategic Plan.

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Feature Article
William Collinge

by William Collinge, Ph.D.,
Professor Emeritus of Theology and Philosophy


In 1998, the U.S. Catholic bishops outlined Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching. One theme is Call to Family, Community, and Participation. In expanding this theme, the bishops wrote, “The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society—in economics and politics, in law and policy—directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. . . We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.”

“Social justice implies that persons have an obligation to be active and productive participants in the life of society and that society has a duty to enable them to participate in this way.”

Why is participation important? As the bishops say, it is connected to the common good, a central notion of Catholic social teaching. Humans naturally form communities, from families to working groups to civic communities to global society and beyond. Each community has a good that it can achieve, a good that is not reducible to the sum of the goods of the individuals that compose it. Anyone who has been part of a band or a team knows this. Speaking of society at large, the bishops wrote in 1986, “Social justice implies that persons have an obligation to be active and productive participants in the life of society and that society has a duty to enable them to participate in this way.” The opposite of participation is marginalization or exclusion. “The ultimate injustice,” the bishops went on to say, “is for a person or a group to be treated actively or abandoned passively as if they were nonmembers of the human race.” Most forms of exclusion or marginalization do not go so far as to deny people’s humanity altogether, but each in some way diminishes human dignity.

A university is primarily a community of teachers and learners, though it is other types of community as well (e.g., a residential community, a workplace, part of an ecosystem). As with other communities, not everyone participates in the same way. The staff member who maintains the hallways might not teach or study but contributes to the common good by keeping the hallways clean and safe. What does participation in a community of learning mean for teachers and students? As the bishops say, it is both a duty and a right. Individuals have a duty to inquire, to be open to new ideas, to formulate and express their thoughts. They have a right for their experience to be respected, their thoughts heard, their expressions criticized and clarified, their understanding deepened. And they have a right to have some say in the conditions within which they learn and teach. (Similarly, maintenance workers have a right to have some say regarding the conditions within which they work.)

Our university community has a duty to meet its members’ needs so they can participate fully in the functioning of the university and realize their potential. A community can, perhaps unwittingly, set up barriers to participation. If a member differs from the majority or from common expectations—say by disability, or in first language, cultural heritage, gender, or religion—it may be hard for others to respect their experience. People’s needs may be ignored, cultural differences may be judged intellectual or moral failings, or policies may have an unintended disparate impact on minoritized groups. It is to overcome such barriers that the Mount has established programs specifically for equity and inclusion. When all members of the community can participate fully, when they can both share in what the community has to offer and make their own distinctive contributions, the common good of the Mount as an academic community can best be realized and the dignity of its members can be respected.

Social Justice 101: Core Concepts in Social Justice


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