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July 25, 2021
Ithaca, NY | 71°F

ColumnsSeeking Justice

Recentering the conversation

For so long, we’ve heard talks of diversifying faculty at Ithaca College and the need to support students of color, but I have yet to see a change. I’ve seen tokenism, but not true diversity or equity. Besides some of the members of the administration, there are not many people of color in positions of power at the college. It’s as if the college feels it hit its diversity quota by hiring President Shirley M. Collado. This conversation surrounding diversity and equity becomes even more imperative in light of the faculty cuts.

As part of the Academic Program Prioritization process, 116 full-time equivalent faculty positions are being cut. That’s a significant number of lives that are going to be drastically changed. These are people with families that rely on them, children that look up to them. Some faculty are working multiple jobs because the college does not pay them their worth, and others were barely surviving when they did have a job. 

I was especially disheartened to see that there are multiple Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) on the list of faculty who are going to be cut. I find it ludicrous that the one BIPOC woman in the journalism department is being cut. As a journalism student, I have never seen myself reflected in any of my journalism professors. That’s an issue. 

Although we don’t know how many professors of color will be cut at the moment, even if seven are fired, it will have an effect. What safeguards does the administration have in place to protect faculty of disenfranchised groups? The administration talks about protecting faculty of color, but many times the plans lack execution. The administration needs to be transparent on this issue and show that it is committed to true diversity and equity — not tokenism. The actions of the administration can no longer be performative, especially in a financial deficit and a time filled with anxiety.

The number of BIPOC faculty being cut is not the only issue. The issue of racist professors still having a job and being protected by tenure needs to be addressed as well. Those are the professors that need to be cut. You should not be able to be an educator if you are prejudiced against your students. I can name at least ten racist professors right now who are not on that list, and that is in the Park School alone. 

In tandem with conversations surrounding faculty cuts, there has been a resurfacing of Collado’s complicated past. This is not the time to bring up Collado pleading no-contest to a count of misdemeanor sexual abuse 20 years ago. What does that have to do with faculty cuts? Cancel culture has made us far too comfortable with looking at the flaws of others and not assessing ourselves first. This does not mean that she should not be held accountable, but now is not the time to bring up her past. People should be allowed to evolve and grow. 

What we all need to be doing is calling out all the racist professors who still have a job, and hold them accountable. People have no issue calling out a woman of color, so let’s keep that same energy for the white professors who abuse their power.

John Turner can be reached at jturner3@ithaca.edu