Kip Lynch ’22
In an email sent on Monday, Nov. 2, President of the College Joanne Berger-Sweeney updated the Trinity community on the College’s progress in fulfilling the commitments made this past summer to address systemic racism.
Berger-Sweeney noted that while “these steps, while significant, won’t all by themselves end centuries of systemic racism, oppression, and violence within our society and its institutions,” the College can make strides by “creating a more equitable, inclusive community in which all members can thrive by taking intentional and sustained actions.”
She invited members of the Trinity community to follow the College’s work on the Campus Climate Task Force website. The recently created task force has begun “documenting some of the progress the Trinity community has made over the last decade to improve campus climate” in addition to identifying “priorities focused on improving the racial climate,” which will be based on responses from faculty, staff, students, alumni, and parents.
With regard to anti-racist education, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, in partnership with DiversityEdu, will provide a course required for all students, faculty, and staff that will focus “on understanding unconscious bias, identifying and responding to microaggressions, and engaging with people across differences.” The Office also sponsored a two-day summit in which 120 members of the Trinity community participated. The event, titled “Exploring the Historical Roots of Racial Inequity: Toward an Antiracist Community,” was created by Facing History and Ourselves. In addition, the Office required training opportunities such as social justice mediation training and intergroup dialogue training for faculty and staff.
Berger-Sweeney reiterated from her previous statement in the summer that the College is “committed to creating six such hires [Special Opportunity Hires] each year for the next three years to increase faculty diversity. These positions will be part of the normal allotment of faculty hires at Trinity.” She further stated that “Our commitment to hire a more diverse faculty is universal, and we will hold ourselves accountable for doing so.”
Berger-Sweeney also announced the creation of a trustee committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion led by trustee Michael Gary ’86, who will work with organizations on campus “to assist in furthering our work to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.”
Furthermore, “The Trinity College Alumni Association and the governance committee of the Board of Trustees have taken up the issue of the racial and ethnic diversity of our volunteer diversity leadership boards and are moving expeditiously toward greater diversity.”
As for Trinity’s history with slavery, Berger-Sweeney repeated her past announcements of intending to “embark upon a comprehensive process to consider campus building names” rather than focusing narrowly on renaming several buildings. Named after Hartford native and teacher Rebecca Primus and funded in part by the Luce Foundation Director’s Grant, the Primus Project “aims to tell a fuller story of Trinity’s history. It is a research-driven, community-based initiative to better understand the college’s past and to forge a more just and inclusive present.”
Funding for Samba Fest, the International Hip Hop Festival, and renovating cultural houses has been met with “commitments from trustees and alumni.” Praising the involvement of Trinity’s alumni and trustees, Berger-Sweeney revealed that “they have committed more than $500,000 to various initiatives to advance racial and gender justice and equity at Trinity.”