Faculty/Student Listening Session Fall 2016 Report

Faculty/Student Listening Session Fall 2016 Report

Approved by Faculty Senate September 11, 2017, Motion FS 17-18/09-05


Topic: What Can We Do to Improve the Campus/Community Climate for Underrepresented Students


On the evening of Sunday, October 23, 2016, approximately 48 students from underrepresented groups on campus met with a group of approximately 48 faculty to discuss their concerns. The list below represents some of the concerns expressed by some of the students in attendance. Following the meeting, the Student-Welfare sub-committee of the Faculty Senate looked into each of the concerns raised to determine what, if anything, can be done to alleviate their concerns. Responses are also indicated below.

  1. Develop classroom policies that promote the classroom as a safe space
    1. Consider more flexible/open attendance policies for students with mental health issues or anxiety
      1. While this is not directly possible, faculty may refer students with mental health issues to counseling AND the Dean of Students who can work to provide basic information to all of a student’s professors.


  1. Encourage attendance for campus events through offering class credit or extra credit: Students indicated that they very much appreciated faculty making announcements about upcoming events and/or offering extra credit for attendance, when appropriate.
    1. Faculty are not required, but may keep up-to-date with campus events being offered, to consider offering extra credit for attending events that relate to course subject matter and to help keep students informed about the events.


  1. Provide a statement on syllabuses about faculty willingness to discuss issues that make students feel uncomfortable:
    1. Though it is not required, faculty may adopt or modify the following example: "Because it is important to maintain an open and fair class environment, students in this class are welcome to let the professor know if any issue related to race, gender, religion, sexual preference, or disability has been treated or discussed in a way that can potentially make a student feel uncomfortable. Students are welcome to talk to the professor after class, to visit during office hours, or simply by sending an email requesting an appointment.”
    2. Include bias reporting on syllabuses
      1. The Bias reporting system is currently operational but the ability to anonymously report has been removed, as requested by the faculty senate. It now includes more upfront information https://bias.appstate.edu/
      2. Including information about the bias reporting system in a syllabus might look like this: “Alternatively, if a student feels that a faculty member has treated them or held a discussion that makes that student feel uncomfortable, students may also submit a confidential report of the incident using the Bias reporting system at bias.appstate.edu. However, with a confidential report, it may be more difficult for faculty to correct the situation. As such, students  are encouraged to communicate directly with the faculty member or with the chair of the department in which the faculty member resides whenever possible.”



  1. Encourage open dialogue in the classroom – promote free speech, use current events
    1. Students at the listening session indicated that they wished more faculty would discuss current events in their classes instead of issues from many years ago. They want to discuss the water situation in Flint, MI, for example.

Faculty might wish to consider adopting a more flexible curriculum that allows them to be able to include current topics.


  1. Promote an open-door atmosphere (consider signs on faculty doors) – similar to the safety pin idea
    1. Initially, some faculty thought the Open Door stickers meant open to LGBTQIA students but the Open Door initiative on campus is much broader than this so we want to be sure that all faculty are aware of its meaning and consider identifying themselves as having  an Open Door. From the Open Door website: “The Open Door program promotes the value of every person's contribution to the community – not in spite of our religion, sexuality, race, gender identity, or ability.”
    2. Re: the promotion of it: From the Open Door Manager, Yormeri Silva: “Currently, we are limited in our marketing options to both students and faculty/staff since we are not considered a "club" officially, but we are working on making the transition. Having an academic channel to reach students would be great in our efforts to reach students! Outside of email announcements, we have a Facebook and Twitter account and have been promoted by the ASU Facebook in the past. I would like to have promotional outlets in residence halls and for incoming freshmen and transfer students during open house week for the Open Door program.”
    3. Develop faculty training on identity and privilege.
      1. Bindu Jayne provided training to administration but, unfortunately, the training was not made available to faculty. Once a person is hired to replace Bindu, we will open a discussion about reestablishing the training/discussion sessions for faculty.
      2. Originally, the Student-Welfare committee had planned to establish a committee to decide on what is needed or could be done. However, seven English faculty attended a Racial Equity Institute workshop on February 17-18 and reported they found the workshop enlightening, challenging, and well worth the two intensive days they spent with 35 other participants from around the state. Part of their aim in attending the workshop was to determine whether Appalachian could benefit from bringing REI to campus for a more widespread training and educational forum for ASU faculty and staff, students, and community members. Based on their experience, we join this group in urging University administrators to pursue this course.



About the REI Training: REI training draws on research in biology, history, sociology, economics, and other fields to teach participants about the nature of structural racism and its implications for US society, both historically and in the present day.  Unlike overt expressions of racism, systemic racism is largely invisible, even to those who participate in its structures. While most of us were familiar with parts of this information, the REI training does an excellent job of drawing interdisciplinary connections to create a multifaceted perspective on race and racism and help participants to recognize and reflect upon internal biases.


  1. Ensure all University sites use preferred first name and pronouns (ASULearn, Degree Works, etc…).
    1. Done. ASULearn, Banner and Degree Works now all identify preferred first names.


  1. Provide more resources for psychological services and more psychologists of diverse backgrounds.
    1. While we can’t mandate the hiring of psychologists that might reflect underrepresented, the Student Counseling Center is currently making efforts to hire someone with experience and expertise in this area.
    2. Additionally, the marriage and family therapy (MFT) program is piloting an on-campus clinic next year that will focus on working with underrepresented students. Because about 50% of their students (therapist in training) identify as from racially and ethnically underrepresented groups, this program might be able to provide some of the services


that students feel they aren't getting from the counseling center. Since they offer a certificate in Systemic Multicultural Counseling in which all interns at the MFT Clinic participate, they have additional training in working with diverse clients.

  1. The Department of Wellness and Prevention Services (WPS) has also recently (beginning Summer 2016) been able to secure funding to be able to offer a Post-Master Traineeship in Mental and Social Well-being and Prevention Education. This traineeship in Mental and Social Well-being and Prevention Education advances the mission of the WPS Department in serving the diverse needs of Appalachian State University students through health promotion and risk behavior modification services. More specifically, the trainee provides direct client services within the scope of WPS’s existing framework under the supervision of Mr. Ben Asma, M.A., LPC, LCAS-A. Furthermore, the trainee assists the Department in the development of appropriate prevention education opportunities tailored to special populations on campus. The trainee is also tasked with creating, implementing, and evaluating services designed to meet the unique needs of various student groups, such as racial/ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, transfer students, first-generation students, and veterans. Services rendered by the trainee may be delivered in a variety of manners, including: one-on-one, couples, small group, or large classroom/community wide methods.


  1. Provide scholarships for students whose funds are threatened as a result of sexual orientation/identity
    1. As a state institution, the University cannot offer scholarships specifically for diverse students. However, the Chancellor has agreed to help us find resources off-campus if we wish to pursue this. The Student Welfare Sub-Committee recommends that faculty senate be polled on whether this is something they want. If so, the Faculty Senate should work with ASU administration to create a Task Force with this specific purpose in mind.


  1. Provide decompression/debriefing zones/areas (safe spaces) in buildings on campus or signage directing students to existing ones in nearby buildings
    1. The Student Welfare Sub-Committee is still investigating if this is something ASU should pursue and how this might be accomplished.


  1. Provide more open forums between students and faculty
    1. If the faculty are interested in supporting this, the Student Welfare Sub-Committee will pursue hosting one of these sessions each semester where there is no agenda but a


handful of faculty (only faculty) are present to listen. For these open forums, all interested students would be invited to attend.


  1. Support offering a freshman orientation class (App 101, a Gen Ed course for all students to address all issues of social justice)
    1. It seems reasonable for faculty to support, and be involved in, discussions about how to make aspects of resource, wellness, community responsibility, social justice, etc. education available in current First Year Seminars, when instructors are willing to include such features in existing courses.
    2. Similarly, it seems reasonable for faculty to support, and be involved in, discussions about whether or not an “App 101” (as described above) as a stand alone course is feasible and what such a course might look like (e.g., required, optional, is there a 201 version for transfers, etc.).
    3. The Student Welfare Sub-Committee therefore suggests a member of the Student Welfare Sub-Committee work with a task force on the creation of such a course or modules that could be added to existing FYS courses.


  1. Develop storyboards (capture videos) with the testimonies of students so students don’t have to keep repeating themselves.
    1. Though they were created and developed independently of the Student Welfare Sub-Committee, testimonials on these topics, in video format, are already in place:

http://theappalachianonline.com/indepth/a-representation-of-race.html. As such, no action is recommended.


  1. Promote the availability of culturally sensitive resources (hair care and products, music/movie choices):
    1. Consider providing a space and having hairdressers skilled in cutting African American hair come to campus once a month.
      1. ASU Administration seems to be aware of this concern and is working on finding some solutions. Willie Fleming has helped the community find someone who would be appropriate. An African American woman was hired at Changes Salon and she does ethnic hair. Changes Salon is located at: 1542 Old US Hwy 421 #E, Boone, NC 28607. Appointments can be made at:

828-265-4006. There are also currently discussions underway with Mr. Damien Johnson, the owner of three barbershops and a barber school in Charlotte. We don't have a confirmation yet on whether he will be able to provide barber services here in Boone.


  1. Consider working with the Schaeffer Center and/or the new Downtown Boone Appalachian Theater to offer movies that celebrate diverse characters (for example, Hidden Figures was not shown at the local Boone theater, could it have been brought in for a single day or weekend while still in theaters)
    1. ASU Administration seems to be aware of this concern and is working on finding some solutions. Willie Fleming is currently investigating how we might pursue options. Possible venues include Schaeffer Center and the App  Theater downtown (currently under renovation).