Pomona co-founds racial equity alliance for liberal arts colleges

A white building behind green trees has blue "Pomona College" flags.
Pomona College co-founds the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance along with five other liberal art colleges in the United States. (Regan Rudman • The Student Life)

Pomona College announced Tuesday that it had co-founded the newly created Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance, which aims to combat racial inequities at liberal arts colleges, according to a news release on the school’s website

Pomona is a founding member alongside DePauw University, Oberlin College, Occidental College, Macalester College and Skidmore College. DePauw President Lori White spearheaded the effort. Scripps College, Pitzer College, Claremont McKenna College and Harvey Mudd College have also joined the alliance, as well as more than 40 other schools.

LACRELA was inspired by a similar recently created alliance for California community colleges, the USC Race and Equity Center’s California Community College Equity Leadership Alliance, which was founded this summer, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Presidents of the colleges who are participating in LACRELA will meet quarterly with the USC Race and Equity Center’s team to share strategies and collaborate on ways to “leverage the alliance for collective impact on racial equity in higher education,” according to Pomona’s news release. 

Additionally, eight representatives of each LACRELA college will participate in monthly virtual programming created by the USC Race and Equity Center starting January 2021. 

The programming will cover topics such as accountability, integrating race across the curriculum and “incentives for advancing racial equity,” according to Pomona’s website, and teach representatives how to disseminate the information to colleagues.

Pomona staff and faculty will have full access to USC’s virtual equity resource portal, which is expected to launch in late spring and includes equity-related rubrics, readings, case studies, videos, slides and conversation scripts, according to Pomona and DePauw’s news releases. 

Most of the liberal arts colleges in the new alliance committed to a three-year membership at a cost of $18,000 per year, according to InsideHigherEd. 

Scripps’ membership is being funded by a private gift from a donor, college spokesperson Rachel Warwecki said via email. 

“The goals of the alliance are to pool liberal arts colleges’ limited resources, create a vibrant network of colleges committed to anti racism efforts, and engage in deep reflective work leading to recommendations and strategies that can be implemented to move racial equity work forward,” she said.

All of the alliance colleges will participate in the USC Race and Equity Center’s annual National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates survey, which will ask students, faculty and staff for their opinions on the diversity and inclusion efforts and in turn offer colleges recommendations to improve campus climate, Inside Higher Ed said. 

Pomona completed a Campus Climate Survey over the 2019-20 academic year to assess the “living, learning and working environment on campus” for Pomona students, faculty and staff and released the results to Pomona students and faculty Nov. 5.  

CMC, Pitzer and HMC spokespeople did not return a request for comment. 

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