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I AM TCNJ Forum

On Friday November 16, 2018 three students walking toward Travers/Wolfe residence hall became the targeted victims of racial slurs. Outrage about this event triggered a call to action by President Foster and other administration to host a forum to hear from the community about their experiences and strategies the institution can take to improve upon the Diversity and Inclusion goals of the institution. On Wednesday, November 28, 2018 The College of New Jersey hosted an I AM TCNJ forum as the first step in reshaping civility and community respect at the institution. Video of the event can be found here. Additionally, the community offered a number of ideas and questions to which we want to respond. Please see responses below. Provide additional feedback here.


What would the VP for Inclusion need to know about TCNJ?

  • Some communities do not feel supported, and students feel as though they do not have a voice on this campus.
  • Community members went from feeling uncomfortable to feeling unsafe; we need to know where to go to be heard

What can we expect from our community in terms of behavior? How can we hold each other accountable?

  • Within the bounds of law, communities may set expectations for behavior and hold members accountable through regulations and rules designed for that purpose. In addition to reviewing the Student Conduct Code, it makes sense to assess faculty and staff employee handbooks to ensure they speak to and reflect the behavioral expectations and terms of accountability for TCNJ.

What do you mean by “inclusion?”

  • In her original message on inclusion, President Foster defined an inclusive campus as one in which we have an abiding commitment to and deep respect for one another, and a firm belief and actions demonstrating that we all belong to, help create, and share this place. We can also add concepts of equity and justice. Depending on the ultimate title of the Vice President position, yet to be determined, we will ask a search committee, yet to be named, to help us define the term for the Vice Presidential search.

Anti-Racist training is needed on campus from top to bottom.

  • With the guidance of a diversity and inclusion unit, TCNJ will identify training programs that best fit our needs to ensure current and new employees and students are trained appropriately.
  • TCNJ will be a welcoming campus regardless of community members’ backgrounds.

We need diversity, not just in people, but also in thought.

  • Ideological diversity is essential in a college community. This topic is a theme of the Sustained Dialogue program, and often covered in Critical Conversations, coordinated by TCNJ’s Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion. Our community might consider other programs that contribute to our culture and expectations for how we share diverse perspectives. The Quaker community has a model of communication and respect – perhaps TCNJ could develop a model for itself.
  • This may also include having more activities that address areas of diversity, such as race, sexuality, etc.
  • We need buy-in on inclusion throughout the entire TCNJ community.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Office of Disability Services need support.

  • The President has committed to providing resources to search for and hire a Vice President to bring strategic expertise to and bring into a single unit work on diversity, equity, and inclusion currently organized in different divisions. The Office of Disability Services currently has two staff members; the President has identified resources to add one more staff member to that office. We will continue to assess the workload of this office and address needs as appropriate.
  • We are working to address change in the micro-level to impact the macro-level.
  • Jobs, internships, and other opportunities to end unpaid emotional labor.

FSP Class helped a student gain understanding on diversity and class, and was able to practice what they learned.

  • In an effort to provide first year students with a broad range of topics of potential interest, engaging a wider range of full-time faculty, some years ago a standardized first year seminar was replaced by the current broader FSP curriculum. Some current FSP courses successfully addressed issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but others do not. As noted below, the formation last spring of the Liberal Learning Task Force allows for a comprehensive review of the first year seminar and other Liberal Learning requirements. That review started early fall semester and continues.

Co-curricular programming grants for students, faculty, and staff to do projects together.

  • Currently, co-curricular and mini-grants are offered, in addition to other co-curricular programming (e.g., the LeaderShape program). As co-curricular programming asks more time from students, faculty, and staff, courses designed to intentionally engage students with other faculty and staff to do projects together may have a broader impact. This and other co-curricular suggestions will be passed to the faculty senate and each respective School.

Inclusivity training in the Schools.

  • We do not currently require inclusivity training for faculty and staff within each School. Issues of inclusivity are embedded parts of the student, faculty, and staff experiences in some Schools, departments, and courses (e.g., Education, Nursing, History, African American Studies, Philosophy, etc.), but we lack a campus-wide approach.
  • A School-wide Task Force in the School of Science on “Fostering Student Success” has focused on equity, inclusion, and changes in demographics and learning styles. This effort has engaged the entire School with regular departmental conversations, invited speakers, and the creation of a series of recommendations. Faculty and staff in Science and other Schools attend external professional development workshops that include issues of diversity and inclusion. For example, the School of Science has presented three interrelated papers at a national conference on “Understanding Interventions that Broaden Participation,” each dealing with student success, diversity, and inclusion. [Workshop title: “An Institutional Approach to Inclusion and Student Success in STEM at The College of New Jersey“; individual presentations: a) “Barriers to Success: Understanding the Student Experience,” b) “Enhancing Learning for All: Reflection, Redesign, and Change in our Biology Pedagogy and Course Goals,” c) “Becoming Student Ready: Transforming Institutional Structures and Cultures to Support Success for All Students.”] These and other efforts resulted in the School of Science being awarded a multi-year $1 million grant for its “Inclusion Excellence” program. The goals are: a) Create a more inclusive culture among our faculty and in our core science and math courses; b) Develop more inclusive academic advising and research mentoring systems and cultures; and c) Enhance and reward a culture of evidence-based reflection and innovation to encourage inclusivity.

How are professors being trained on diversity and inclusion? How are they hired with respect to these issues?

  • TCNJ does not have required diversity and inclusion training for faculty. As a state institution, TCNJ requires training for faculty and staff consistent with state requirements. This does not preclude additional requirements regarding diversity and inclusion training.
  • TCNJ actively recruits a diverse pool of candidates for all faculty positions, advertising in a wide range of outlets targeted at diverse faculty populations. During interviews, candidates are made aware of TCNJ’s diverse populations of students. Unfortunately, the national supply of faculty from traditionally underrepresented populations, faculty who can contribute to our culture and serve as role models for our students, continues to lag demand. In a highly competitive national market for faculty talent, TCNJ has maintained and somewhat improved upon the diversity of faculty, though with continued work needed.

First year reading to address overt and covert racism.

  • Four of the summer readings in the past five years have included topics of diversity, inclusion, and/or racism. Each of the four books contain explicit themes of diversity and inclusion (e.g., Make Your Home Among Strangers). Discussions within summer reading sections vary based on student questions and comments. Each year, a committee invites suggestions for the Summer Reading book. Engaging students to openly discuss and feel safe discussing difficult topics, such as racism, will likely not happen for all students in a singular meeting to discuss summer reading. While this discussion can help, it must be viewed as a part of a broader effort.

Why is the Liberal Learning requirement on diversity not included from the start?

  • Over literally decades, faculty have discussed numerous configurations for Liberal Learning requirements and the timing of these requirements. Last spring, well before events this semester, the Liberal Learning Task Force was formed to again review Liberal Learning requirements and the first year experience. The I AM TCNJ Forum and recent events provide important views that need to be considered as faculty consider how to improve the timing of Liberal Learning requirements.

A change of attitude regarding classes on racial sensitivity is needed.

  • Issues of socioeconomic class and race overlap significantly with issues of diversity and inclusion. Earlier questions on Liberal Learning and the FSP highlight the need for more curricular and co-curricular work in this area. TCNJ represents a microcosm, a small slice of significant class and race issues apparent in US society. More can be done to prepare students for that broader environment.

Fora like these need to be mandatory, starting from the first year. People who need to be here are not here.

  • “Mandatory” requirements in academia are infrequent. For example, class attendance in most courses for most class meetings is not “mandatory.” In preparation for post-college years, students at TCNJ have a great deal of latitude in choosing topics to study and how best to spend their time. To be effective, mandatory requirements would also necessarily include enforcement and accountability for non-compliance. Thus, the TCNJ community needs to consider the extent to which enforcement of various mandatory requirements become intentional parts of the culture. Improved curriculum and co-curricular programs may provide a more effective approach.

Classes need to address race.

  • Numerous courses do address issues of race, and Liberal Learning requirements ensure students are exposed to these topics and difficult issues. As noted above, the timing of when students experience these requirements needs to be reviewed.

Transparency is needed regarding repercussions from bias incidents.

  • There are restrictions on the College’s ability to disclose information about students without their permission. The new division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion can compile aggregate data to indicate the numbers and nature of bias incidents, and how they may have been resolved while protecting privacy.

Tangible consequences for perpetrators of hate crimes are needed.

  • Hate crimes are a specific category of bias incident that would be referred to law enforcement and the court system. Review of the conduct codes may make explicit the scope of hate crimes versus other acts that fall under New Jersey law in a category of “bias intimidation.” Consequences would vary depending on the act itself.

Include students in revising the Student Conduct Policy.

  • Students have been involved and will continue to be involved. We will take this opportunity to cast a wider net of student input.

Acknowledge and support those who speak up about hate crimes.

  • The College respects the privacy of those reporting bias intimidation and cannot “acknowledge” them publicly without their permission. The campus is committed to provide resources to support those who report bias intimidation, just as it does those who report sexual harassment or sexual assault. All reports of bias intimidation are taken seriously and receive the same breadth and depth of attention of investigation, support, and follow through.

Make clear that any and all slurs are not acceptable; slurs are to be treated as hate crimes.

  • Although slurs are clear instances of bias intimidation, they may not be hate crimes under the law. TCNJ will continue to follow applicable law regarding hate crimes and bias intimidation, and will follow up accordingly.

Anti-racist training needs to extend to Campus Police.

  • The TCNJ campus police receive anti-discrimination training on a regular basis. Recent mandated training sessions included: “Cultural Diversity, De-Escalation and Bias Crime Reporting” – Laying the Foundation; Law Enforcement and Cultural Diversity Concepts; Law Enforcement and De-Escalation; Law Enforcement and the African-American Community; Law Enforcement and the Muslim Community; Law Enforcement and the Asian Community; Law Enforcement and the Sikh Community; Law Enforcement and the Latino/Hispanic Community; Law Enforcement and the Jewish Community; Law Enforcement and the LGBTQ Community; Understanding Bias Crimes, Incidents, and Reporting; Law Enforcement Response to Individuals with Special Needs/Mental Health Issues; Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale.
  • Additionally, several officers attended training regarding Autism, Tourette Syndrome, and Mental Health First Aid. Currently, Campus Police has two individuals scheduled to complete a “train the trainer” course on Mental Health First Aid. Training will be delivered to the rest of the police department thereafter.
  • Campus Police Services is working with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office to receive its Bias Incident and Investigation training.

Why does the Clery Report not include bias incidents?

How are Community Advisors trained in handling bias incidents?

  • Residential Education Student Staff (CAs, HAs, SMROs) receive clear crisis protocol on how to respond to bias incidents in the form of a crisis manual that is reviewed in training; however, the bulk of the practice experiences have traditionally centered around graffiti and instances where there is no clear victim or target, but targeted language.
  • Student staff had anywhere from 36 hours (returning staff) to 47 hours (new hires) of training, including formal lectures, in-staff discussions, role plays, and case studies. This does not include meals where staff often debrief, or when staff hold floor prep time. This is an increase over prior years. Below is the time devoted to relevant sessions and the learning outcomes assigned to each session.
  • 1 hour spent on confrontation:
    • Staff will recognize ways to effectively confront concerning behavior.
    • Staff will discover how to de-escalate situations.
    • Staff will identify negotiating tactics that may help them address situations in which students are non-compliant.
    • Staff will identify when and how to seek assistance from campus resources and on-duty staff.
  • 1.5 hours spent on crisis response movie and manual review:
    • Staff will identify ways to approach duty situations regarding fire drills, alcohol violations, roommate conflicts, and mental health crises.
  • .75 hours on documentation and Symplicity:
    • Staff will observe the Symplicity system and identify how to log in
    • Staff will be able to distinguish between CARE Referrals, Title IX Reports, and Incident Reports.
    • Staff will be able to name situations in which they are required to submit a report on Symplicity.
  • 3 hours of crises response role play, plus 1 hour of processing and debrief time:
    • Staff will demonstrate the skills they have acquired from earlier sessions.
    • Staff will distinguish between their instinctual response and protocol response.
    • Staff will identify appropriate staff responses and outreach for various duty-related scenarios.
    • Staff will discuss their experiences with Behind Closed Doors, review protocol, and develop strategies for more effectively confronting these types of scenarios.
  • 2.5 hours for “Do You Hear What I Hear: A Critical Conversation with Dr. Don”
    • Define Diversity and Inclusion
    • Identify barriers to our understanding of Diversity and Inclusion
    • Develop an understanding of intersectionality
    • Develop an understanding of how Diversity and Inclusion is impacted across residence life at TCNJ
    • Develop an understanding of inclusive excellence (e.g., IAMTCNJ)
  • An additional 12.5 hours of in-staff time with role plays, case studies, and other training. This included harassment situations and bias incidents, but also facilities and building services troubleshooting and other incidents.

Why were police not called on this racial incident?

  • Residential Education protocol is documented as follows:
  • Bias is a preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of people based on race, religion, ethnic/national origin, sexual orientation, or disability. This could be expressed by a joke, note on someone’s dry erase board or a comment. A hate crime is a criminal offense—such as harassment, destruction of property, etc.–that must have been motivated, in whole or part, by an offender’s bias against race, religion ethnic/national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.
    • If the incident involves graffiti, student staff will cover it with butcher block paper to prevent more students from feeling targeted. They will NOT remove it, erase it, or get rid of it in any other way unless told to do so by Professional Staff or Campus Police. If they can photograph it for the incident report, that would be helpful.
    • Reach out to the student targeted, if known, to find out their response to the incident.
    • Call Professional Staff to inform them of the situation. They need to know:
      • Is there a targeted student and is that person upset or fearful?
      • When and where did the incident occur?
      • Is there damage, vandalism, or graffiti that needs to be photographed and removed?
      • What is the victim(s)’ basic information?
      • To what extent is the victim(s) or the community upset?
      • What support is in place for the victim(s)?
      • What is known about the alleged perpetrator(s)?
      • Are parents, media, or outside community involved?
    • Student staff will then document the incident in Symplicity and upload any photos. Additionally, harassment protocol indicates that Professional Staff and police should be called. In the November 16 incident, the staff member was not on call, was not staffing the office, and did not have the crisis manual with them. They were off-duty dining in T-Dubbs when made aware of the situation and took the initiative to address it, resulting in an increased likelihood to identify where the verbal slurs were coming from.
  • Moving forward:
    • We have uploaded our crisis manual to our training resources on Canvas, so all staff have access to a digital copy of the manual when they are not near their hard copy, but unexpectedly have to address an incident.
    • We reviewed crisis response protocol for bias incidents.
    • We have started to plan January training and have a series of sessions that will be related to creating inclusive communities, addressing bias incidents, and debriefing incidents in the community after a significant incident.
    • Out of an abundance of caution, we are also looking at changing our in-staff time to allow us to have staff be more accountable to the learning outcomes required and less likely to get distracted by individual staff needs or pressures.
    • We are also looking at ways our curriculum can be modified to allow for a different approach to addressing inclusion in our efforts to create community for our students.
  • We continue to consult with Dr. Don Trahan on training, develop and support of our student staff in managing bias incidents, oppressive communities, and enhancing their own awareness of privilege and oppression.

Send a message that non-inclusive talk is not welcome at TCNJ.

  • The College can prohibit discriminatory or harassing conduct. Generally, speech has Constitutional protections.

Respect is to be first and foremost on campus.

  • TCNJ has used the Sustained Dialogue program in the past, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Critical Conversations, and Lion’s Hour to emphasize the centrality of respect in our interactions. We welcome suggestions from campus members to implement other programs on civility and open communication.
  • Conversation and action does not stop at the forum. We will make a change. Keep us all accountable. This affirms the intention of the I AM TCNJ Forum to be action-oriented.

Racial incidents are traumatizing. Expel perpetrators of hate crimes.

  • Our conduct codes (student, employee) dictate the range of penalties for different kinds of behavior. It will be important to educate the campus community on the scope and differences for “hate crime,” “hate speech,” “bias intimidation,” and other acts. Perhaps most importantly, we continue to recognize the trauma experienced in these kinds of situations, and ensure support and services are always offered when reports are submitted.

Performance evaluations encourage inclusion.

  • We could raise this possibility with union leadership for bargaining unit employees. However, the non-unit performance evaluation has encouraged diversity for years. We could expand this to “and Inclusion.” Expected behaviors are indicated and each employee is required to identify two specific action items to be implemented during the evaluation period. Taken from the performance evaluation form:
    • Diversity is maximizing the opportunity to take advantage of rich backgrounds and abilities of all employees by recognizing and valuing differences, seeking inclusiveness, and considering and honoring different points of view. Diversity also means practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own.
  • Expected behaviors:
    • Treat members of your team in a respectful and professional manner.
    • Create meaningful opportunities for team members to interact and enhance greater understanding and appreciation for each other.
    • Regard, recognize, and value differences in the needs and viewpoints of others.
    • Ensure that work teams reflect a variety of perspectives, understanding that diverse teams create more dynamic outcomes.
    • Engage in broad recruitment efforts to facilitate diversity of hiring.
    • Take advantage of the rich backgrounds and diverse talents of TCNJ staff.
    • Attend presentations focusing on topics around intercultural understanding and appreciation.
    • Pursue community engagement opportunities.
    • Program development impacting diverse communities.
    • Develop or participate in multicultural networking opportunities.
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