As GC Fairness approaches its first anniversary on campus, 24 members met with the new President. GC Fairness is a gathering of students, faculty and staff who address challenges concerning fairness, diversity and equality in the campus community. It supports Georgetown College’s acknowledged commitment to diversity and advocates creating an environment where all are welcomed, valued and protected equally.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the group’s future steps to promote the faculty non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Last year, the group offered its recommendation to the College’s Board of Trustees. Despite strong support by students, faculty and staff, the Board failed to take action.
Dr. Greene discussed how the group should approach the Board on this subject. He stated that the Board of Trustees must maintain a professional distance from faculty and staff to conserve its ability to act as an executive body. This said, Dr. Greene also mentioned that the Executive Council (including the President, the Provost and the Dean of Students) serves as a liaison between the College community and the Board. Thus, GC Fairness will look to raise its concerns through this avenue in lieu of direct contact with the Board.
Similarly, Pres. Greene said that demonstrations and activist type organization are often perceived negatively and, therefore, should be discouraged. However, GC Fairness maintains that peaceful demonstrations are valid avenues through which to express an opinion, as it has demonstrated in the past.
The discussion also included how the lack of protection is perceived by different people or groups across campus. Dr. Greene stated that he does not see a benefit to Georgetown College being on the “point of the spear” with respect to the social change surrounding gay rights. Likewise, he implied that his commitment to fairness and the College’s willingness to accept gay faculty, staff and students should be seen as a measure of progress.
Members of the group, however, stated that the absence of a policy is inherently discriminatory and makes individuals uncomfortable as they live in a state of perpetual insecurity. It was also pointed out that prospective faculty screen places of employment based on where they feel they will be accepted and this lack of policy can be publicly perceived as hostile.
In the immediate future, Pres. Greene assured that the concerns raised by GC Fairness “will be presented before the Executive Council and the Board of Trustees.” He expressed concern that Georgetown College’s faculty, staff and student policies with respect to discrimination protections do not align and are not coherent.
GC Fairness is committed to continuing discussion with the President and, through the appropriate channels, the Board of Trustees. GC Fairness will carry on with its efforts to promote social justice on campus.