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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Judicial Affairs needs more inclusivity

Any educational institution must hold itself accountable to its community through consistent, critical reflection. Guilford, with its noble core values and declarations, should be especially scrutinized.

One of the places we can examine where Guilford’s actual priorities lie is within the final APSA report.

The report approved cutting both the length of the Understanding Racism workshop and compensation for faculty who contribute to the workshop. It does 0not include anything about adding required sensitivity training or multicultural education workshops as parts of all employees’ jobs.

Another approved recommendation from the APSA report concerning the Judicial Affairs Office reads, “Current data collection and analysis should include repeat offenses information.”

Collecting such data targets students who have been documented multiple times, and weeding out bad apples should not be the approach to restorative justice.

Senior Cory Collins, who has been through the Community Accountability Project, felt the office should not judge students in this manner.

“I think they should function on a case-by-case basis,” said Collins. “Don’t hold anything against anyone who is going in there for the second or third time. You still have to be sensitive to what people are going through.”

APSA’s recommendation does not reflect what the community is asking for and eerily echoes how law enforcement works outside of Guilford.

“As a society, our decision to heap shame and contempt upon those who struggle and fail in a system designed to keep them locked up and locked out says far more about ourselves than it does about them,” wrote Michelle Alexander in her book “The New Jim Crow.”

The APSA recommendations reveal through omission both what the administration wants to do and what they do not care to research.

“Students of color have shared stories of perceived unfair treatment,” said Jada Drew, director for educational initiatives and partnerships, in an email interview. “As I believe their stories are valid, as a college, we must begin to collect systemic demographic data indicating race, sexual orientation and gender to support these stories. The data will also allow us to collectively create inclusive policies and practices.”

The administration appears uninterested in listening to what community members feel the judicial system needs.

Drew’s recommendation is in accord with one of the objectives in the Diversity Action Plan of 2009: “By 2015, the College will enhance inclusiveness in the College environment by creating institutional policies and practices that sustain and advance equality for all students, staff and faculty.”

All students I interviewed agreed hiring a person of color who is trained in multicultural education and/or social work would be helpful to the judicial system.

“I think we need more advocates, and we do need diversity,” said Daniel Rhodes, visiting instructor of justice and policy studies, who has a background in clinical social work.

Guilford’s Diversity Plan reads, “By 2015, the College will increase the diversity of faculty and staff at all levels based on race, sex, ethnicity, sexual identity and international origin.”

The Judicial Affairs Office is in a prime position to facilitate this objective.

“In order to achieve our goal of becoming an anti-racist, multicultural institution, we need to align all of our institutional practices with that goal,” said Director for Diversity Training and Development Jorge Zeballos in an email interview.

This goal is not honored in the APSA report.

The Judicial Affairs Office, like many departments at Guilford, has not taken responsibility to work toward creating more inclusive practices and will likely not do so without pressure from the community. The APSA report neglected strategic plans to infuse anti-racist pedagogy into all aspects of Guilford.

It is clear institutional change will not happen unless it benefits those already in power. Administrative bodies must be directly pressured to make change; they are clearly not listening to our words.

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