It is what he was brought here to do.
Recent events on campus have sparked conversation previously foreign to the largely racially homogenous Springfield College campus. But now, those conversations are being held and addressed as the school is looking to advance further in the realm of social justice and inclusion.
Dr. Calvin Hill, the new Vice President for Inclusion and Community Engagement, found Tuesday to be the best time for an open forum for students, faculty and staff. He went in with one goal specifically in mind, and he felt it was addressed, as were other areas of concern.
“My goal was really to have the campus community have a conversation on self-awareness,” Hill said. “If we acknowledge that power and privilege exist, the question then becomes ‘what do we do with that?’”
Hill was pleased with the fact that it led to a variety of anecdotes on the different lived experiences of members within the campus community and how it brought them to where they are today and how it affects their view of the school.
“A number of our students of color, as well as our other students of other backgrounds, spoke, really, I think poignantly about how their lived experience has been on campus, so our majority students had an opportunity to hear from them,” he said.
Race is not the only concern on campus that requires attention. Socioeconomics, gender identity and sexual orientation are starting to get more and more attention on campus in terms of inclusivity.
Prior to Hill’s hiring, Springfield had still been making steps towards awareness, including increased promotion and knowledge of alumni such as Tom Waddell, founder of the Gay Games. On top of that, promotions such as the No H8 campaign spread the word around campus about the importance of inclusion and acceptance.
With this comes accountability, a general theme that Hill highlighted.
“Obviously, accountability is not just one person on campus, but everyone is going to be accountable for implementing change,” Hill said. “We spoke to the students that were there, and said as a change agent, you have a level of accountability to act when you see or hear an act of injustice.”
Hill had a plethora of situations in which students could step in and enact positive change.
“What do you say to that person that is making a disparaging comment? What do you say to a faculty member when perhaps you are having a class and there is no literature from individuals from minority backgrounds if it is a literature class.”
Though Tuesday was a step in the right direction, the school will continue to move forward in working to become a safer space for students of all backgrounds. Tonight will provide another opportunity to have voices heard, as Spiritual Life is putting on a more student-based forum at 7 p.m. in the John M. Wilson Lounge.
Hill believes everything goes full circle, as he cited improvement in inclusion as part of the all-encompassing Springfield College mission.
“We’re here to think about the mind, body and spirit and developing leaders, and we want to make sure we are developing leaders for a global world where they’re going to interact with people different from themselves.”