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Brockport students protest firing of diversity officer

Brockport students protest firing of diversity officer

WHECTV
Updated: February 14, 2020 03:48 PM
Created: January 25, 2020 06:29 PM

BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WHEC) — Students and community members are protesting the sudden firing of the Chief Diversity Officer at the College at Brockport. 

Doctor Cephas Archie confirmed by text to the Democrat & Chronicle that he has been fired, News10NBC has not yet independently confirmed this information but has confirmed that students attended a campus protest on Friday night, and Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren has also joined students by taking to social media to oppose the firing.

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Mayor Warren posted that she believes he was fired because he was fighting against institutional bias. An e-mail to students from Brockport's president, Heidi McPherson, addressed these claims.

"Both the leadership of the college more widely and I as your college president have an absolute and unwavering commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion," she wrote. She added that she cannot directly address personnel matters.

The full letter sent to students from President McPherson can be found below:

Dear campus community: 

Many of you are aware of the events that transpired yesterday, including a peaceful student protest. You will be aware that I cannot discuss the details of personnel matters. I do, however, want to address the campus community regarding our College’s commitment to being an inclusive learning community. 

Both the leadership of the college more widely and I as your college president have an absolute and unwavering commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. 

I’d like to share some examples of that commitment, including our commitment to recruiting and retaining underrepresented faculty and staff. One major example of this commitment is the fact that the College has invested in a diversity recruitment and retention specialist. This position was initially funded through a two-year grant from SUNY in early 2017; however, we believed in the need for this position so much that we have made this a permanent position funded by the College. 

Another example is that the College applied for and received funding to be a part of the SUNY PRODiG Program. PRODiG stands for Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Growth.  This competitive program is designed to increase representation of historically underrepresented faculty on campus. 

In addition to the general PRODiG program, our Provost spearheaded a new SUNY PRODiG Fellowship Consortia which aims to open up a new faculty diversity “pipeline.” 

Regarding the operations of the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, interim measures will be announced soon, and we will shortly begin the process of conducting a national search for our next CDO. As President, I am committed to ensuring wide community input into the search process. 

I recognize that many of you may be angry or disappointed right now, but I commit to you that every campus decision that I make has the best short- and long-term interest of the College at heart. 

While I am deeply committed to transparency, I am also legally restrained from commenting on personnel matters. However, I can say that we take any personnel action against any employee extremely seriously. This deliberately long process serves to ensure that our entire campus community has high-performing leadership committed to providing our students with the best quality education.  

I do want to provide the campus community with an opportunity to come together and discuss its concerns. To that end, I have scheduled a town hall meeting for this coming Monday, January 27, from 7-8 pm in the Seymour Union Ballroom. 

Sincerely,

President Macpherson
 


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