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Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement

Greetings from the new Director of IME

December 07, 2015

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    photo by Maggie Coit

Greetings L&C students, faculty, staff and alumni,

I write this letter to introduce myself and to offer a message to the L&C Community on behalf of the Department of Inclusion & Multicultural Engagement (IME). I joined the Lewis & Clark community about two-and-a-half years ago because I felt inspired by the natural beauty here, of course, but even more so by the people here, and their commitment to uphold a strong sense of community.

I sought and feel blessed to enter into the position of Director of IME because it aligns with my own life’s work to contribute to the self-empowerment of young people through education driven by introspection and agency for social change. In my journey to this point I’ve served as a student organizer at my alma mater, Occidental College, as a mentor and social worker with youth in the criminal justice system in Los Angeles and Portland, as a school teacher in Cali, Colombia, and New York City, and as an admissions counselor and multicultural recruitment coordinator for the last couple of years here at L&C.

Since joining the L&C community, I’ve been inspired by the friendly and collaborative nature of students, staff, and faculty - qualities that I’ve observed make a strong impression on our future students during their visits to campus. My work in admissions, supplemented by committee work with the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) and the Student Life Diversity Committee, has given me the opportunity to engage with passionate people across campus and learn more about their respective departments and how they interact to make Lewis & Clark such a dynamic liberal arts college. This aerial view of sorts, of the workings of departments, from admissions, to academic advising, to campus living, has helped me to see strengths, as well as areas for improvement when analyzing the College’s development of a multiculturally inclusive environment, and how I may best contribute from my position in Student Life.

As stated in its mission, the purpose of IME is to foster a sense of community at L&C in which all students feel a sense of ownership and belonging. Research shows that students who feel connected to their college community also perform at higher levels in the classroom, so in addition to the social-emotional benefits, it is also academically imperative that students in our community across the spectrum of social identities feel welcome here. I share the deep concern and frustration that many in our community are feeling in reaction to events that in extreme ways resurfaced racism, and general intolerance, on campus. However, I’m inspired by the resilience and passion of our community to speak up in support of one another and to continue working for changes towards a more inclusive environment. I also recognize that many administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents and alumni are working very hard towards this goal as well, and have been for a long time. I hope in my new capacity that I may carry on IME’s work to bridge individuals, groups, and ideas that serve our community to be ever more self-aware, to lovingly embrace difference, and to actively assert ourselves as agents for equity.

What’s on our agenda?

  • This coming Monday, 12/7, from 6:30-8:00, please join the Lewis & Clark institution-wide Committee for Diversity & Inclusion (CDI) in an open forum to discuss needs in our community (click here for event details).
  • Also, the CDI invites all members of the campus community to share their views regarding needs for the campus climate via an online form, which may be submitted signed or anonymous through January 31, 2016.
  • Our Mission: IME is responsible for leading Lewis & Clark’s efforts toward its commitment to a diverse, inclusive, and multicultural campus community. We engage students, faculty, staff, and community partners to promote an inclusive campus climate; provide academic, social, and programmatic support to students from underrepresented communities; and help students develop a greater understanding of their global citizenship through the intercultural exchange of ideas and traditions.
  • Location: IME is located next to Council Chambers on the second floor of Templeton.
  • If you want to talk about something important or just take a break, please feel free to spend some time with us in IME.
  • Check out the IME site for community resources and more upcoming events

As a final thought, I’d like to share a quote from human rights activist and spiritual leader, Thich Nhat Hanh, who has seemingly endless quotable wisdom. Here’s a sentiment that may hold particularly relevance to us as individuals and as a collective:

“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.”

Looking forward, I see tremendous opportunities for our community and I look forward to realizing them with you!

Sincerely,

Nathan Baptiste

 

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