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2002 > April
A commitment to diversity
Yves-Rose SaintDic came to Tufts last fall equipped with a range of experience in the field of human and civil rights from her work with Amnesty International and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. She has worked for the City of Somerville as director of its Human Rights Commission and at Transition House, a nonprofit agency where she helped diversify the pool of managers and directed the agency's capital fund drive.
At Tufts she is the director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and the university's affirmative action Title IX coordinator. Early on in her new job, she became keenly aware of the challenges at Tufts as well as the realization that communication about the university's plans and goals is crucial.
"Peoples' concerns are real," she said, speaking of recent discussions about diversity on the Medford/Somerville campus. "My goal is to work with the president and senior administrators to address these concerns, let people know we are working on them and communicate what our plans are."
SaintDic holds a master of arts degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, specializing in human rights law work. She has university-wide responsibility for overall planning, development, coordination, implementation and monitoring of equal opportunity policies and programs as outlined in the university's mission and as mandated by federal and state statutes. She runs training programs regarding sexual harassment and reviews personnel activities and salaries to make sure people are being treated equally. She is responsible for all divisions and schools and has recently met with students, faculty and staff regarding discussions about diversity at the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering.
"The beauty of equal opportunity laws is that no one is asking for special treatment," she said. "The principle is that if all barriers to discrimination are removed, in time, the workplace will look like its surrounding communities. It doesn't look like that now. At the least, the administrative and clerical staff should reflect the population of Medford and Somerville, and it doesn't."
She said since she took the Tufts job, she is often told that she is the only person of color at Ballou Hall, which houses the university's administration offices. So far, she acknowledged, it's true. But she also recognizes that President Lawrence S. Bacow is committed to diversifying the workforce.
She wants to let the Tufts community know that the administration is involved in a range of activities to better understand and improve the campus environment. Among these are:
A consultant is studying the issue of faculty retention to find out why people leave Tufts, especially people of color. The consultant will also look at what attracts faculty to Tufts and what the perceptions are of Tufts' institutional culture. "We don't know if Tufts was a stepping stone to another place or was it not welcoming to faculty of color," SaintDic said.
SaintDic and other administrators are planning a one-day educational symposium next year to be sponsored by the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. The daylong event will take place on the Medford/Somerville campus and include workshops on such issues as learning in multicultural environments, racial discrimination, gender equity and the prevention of sexual harassment. The hope is that the entire Tufts community will be involved and that the program will become an annual event.
President Bacow has made the commitment to hold a half-day retreat to discuss issues of diversity. Among those attending will be deans, vice presidents and personnel from the Office of the Provost. SaintDic said the retreat is "not just sensitivity training, but an opportunity to come up with plans and decide how to implement them. That's a good thing."
In a letter disseminated to the Tufts community, Susan Ernst, dean of Arts and Sciences, and Ioannis Miaoulis, dean of the School of Engineering, site statistics showing that the student body in their schools has become more diverse. The number of African American students has increased from 3.9 percent since 1996 to 7.5 percent and Hispanics from 4.8 percent to 8.3 percent during the same time period.
SaintDic adds that "you can't just bring students of color here and hope they get along. There has to be a plan. The cultural centers do a good job, but we, as a university, need to do more. I certainly will."