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Ithaca College requests faculty race information for database

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

Ithaca College says it’s working toward a more diverse makeup. That’s why it sent a message to its faculty asking for them to update their personnel profiles with race information.

A letter sent to faculty at Ithaca College asked them to update their personal information, so that a ‘race database’ could be established.

Ithaca College will return to in-person learning in February

Despite the College seeing some challenges with the number of options available – faculty and staff were asked to “make the entries that most closely reflect your racial and ethnic identity.”

The email that went around to staff has prompted significant debate on social media and in the community-at-large.

“We wanted to follow up the recent email from HR asking us all to update our personal information in the HR Cloud,” the communication titled “HR Newsletter Follow Up” reads. “As you of course know, we are striving to become a more diverse and inclusive institution. As part of this process, we want to have a more complete understanding of our current demographic profile sot act we can track our progress toward one part of that goal, diversifying our faculty.”

The letter continues, noting that demographic data is stored in the HR database, but for many employees of the College it is incomplete.

“With this in mind we are writing to ask that you take a brief minute to log into the HR database to ensure that your demographic information is complete,” the letter continues. “Instructions on how to do so appear below. We would like to acknowledge that some of you may find the range of options regarding race and ethnicity limiting. The options available are limited due to requirements from the National Center for Education Statistics; we ask that you make the entries that most closely reflect your racial and ethnic identity.”

Many online were quick to link Ithaca College’s recent announcement about the Antiracism Institution, which is part of an effort to dismantle racist systems.

They invited applicants from the faculty for the 2022-23 academic year in late-September, according to an announcement from the school. The HR letter came less than a week later.

Here’s what Ithaca College said about the Antiracism Institution in that announcement

The long-term vision of the Antiracism Institute is to prepare communities to dismantle racist systems and white supremacy culture embedded in policy, pedagogy, and person at Ithaca College.  

In this year-long institute, participants will meet with facilitators and other participants in small groups weekly in the fall semester and weekly or biweekly in the spring, depending on the time in the semester and needs of the group. The curriculum is based on the Equity Literacy Abilities, and will provide opportunities to learn about recognizing, responding to, and redressing racial inequities in the first semester. In the second semester we will focus on cultivating and sustaining equitable practices in our local contexts.  

Individuals of all racial identities are invited to participate in the institute. To facilitate community building and authentic action-based equity work, racial caucus groups will be used whenever possible.  

Because Ithaca College is a predominantly white institution, much of the Institute’s work is focused on unpacking the impact of centering whiteness and working to decenter these practices.  The Antiracism Institute directly contributes to achieving the Ithaca Forever strategic plan for fostering collaboration and interdisciplinarity and becoming a national model for colleges committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. It supports the values of academic excellence, innovation, and equity. And it strongly aligns with priorities such as developing a Community of Care and leveraging innovations in our teaching, learning, and working. 

Logistical Information:  

  • Who can apply? Ithaca College faculty and student-facing staff. Individuals of all racial identities are invited to participate in the program. This institute is for those who are just beginning this work, as well as those who have been doing this work for some time and wish to join a community of practice.  
  • What are the expectations? Participation in weekly, small group meetings in the fall 2022 semester in racial affinity groups. In the spring semester the groups will meet and weekly or biweekly (depending on the group needs) in the spring 2023 semester, likely in multiracial groups. Each meeting is up to 1.5 hours long and will occur in person at the Center for Faculty Excellence. There will be reading, reflection, or media engagement outside group meetings.  
  • What is the curriculum? We will focus on the development of communities who will support one another in learning and action. The curriculum will be based on building equity literacy abilities, starting with the recognition of systemic racism and features of white supremacy in person, policy & pedagogy. We then move into responding and redressing these features in the participants’ local contexts. In the second semester the curriculum will focus on cultivating and sustaining communities.  
  • When are the meetings? We will start meetings after fall break and there will be two groups based on racial affinity. The number of participants in each group will be limited.  The groups will be on: Mondays from 2:00-3:30 for faculty and staff who identify as people of color and Thursdays from 10:30-12:00 for faculty and staff who identify as white. 
  • How can I apply? To apply, please write a statement of interest that describes how participation in the Antiracism Institute will contribute to your personal and professional development.  Interested faculty and staff should apply here to submit a statement of interest, contact information, and availability for group meetings. Applications are due Wednesday, October 12th. Apply here: (corrected link)