Months after Yale launched an external review of its policies regarding racial discrimination and harassment, University President Peter Salovey announced on Tuesday that he will rename and expand the Office for Equal Opportunities and Programs, or OEOP, and hire a new deputy secretary who will help implement diversity initiatives across the University campus.
In a University-wide email, Salovey endorsed findings of the review compiled by Vice President for the Office for Institutional Equity at Duke University Benjamin D. Reese Jr. and said that Yale will adopt Reese’s “key recommendations”. As per the report’s recommendations, Yale will add staff to OEOP to ensure that the office can conduct timely investigations into harassment and discrimination complaints as well as further educate administrators and staff across the University on issues related to diversity and equity, Salovey said. Yale will also hire a new deputy secretary who will work with members of the University Cabinet to implement diversity and equity initiatives across Yale’s different schools and units.
Last month, prior to the report’s release, the News reported that Reese’s report recommended renaming and expanding OEOP, hiring a full-time professional to help adjudicate all allegations of discrimination and formalizing grievance procedures for discrimination complaints.
In the email, Salovey said University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews and Vice President for Human Resources Janet Lindner will host a forum for all members of the Yale community to discuss the findings of Reese’s report. While some of Reese’s suggestions — such as improving how administrators communicate with members of the University community after incidents of discrimination — have already been implemented, Goff-Crews and Lindner will provide more updates on the implementation of further recommendations, Salovey said.
“Over several months, Dr. Reese consulted with students, members of the faculty and staff, and trustees, and he extensively studied Yale policies, procedures, and support infrastructure,” Salovey said in the email. “I encourage everyone to read his final report, which he submitted to University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews and Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Janet Lindner. … I endorse the main findings of the report and have decided to adopt its key recommendations.”
Goff-Crews could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
In the email, Salovey added that the deputy secretary will supervise specialists who will train student leaders and dean’s designees — those who receive student concerns related to alleged discrimination and advise administrators on how to promote diversity — to respond to discrimination and create a healthy, inclusive campus culture. The report also recommended establishing a group to advise senior University administrators on how to respond to sensitive incidents of harassment and discrimination.
Launched in November, Reese’s review came in response to a nationally-covered incident last May, in which a white former Yale graduate student Sarah Braasch called the police on black student Lolade Siyonbola GRD ’19 after she found Siyonbola napping in the Hall of Graduate Studies common room.
Goff-Crews told the News in November that Yale will not institute a separate office solely for adjudicating Title VI complaints — those that fall under the federal protections against discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, color and national origin at educational institutions. Instead, Salovey announced that the revamped OEOP will handle all discrimination complaints related to race, religion, sex, disability, age and veteran status. Still, the Title IX office and the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct will continue to address complaints of sexual misconduct, the report said.
“Yale’s approach appropriately emphasizes local responses to concerns and incidents, grounded in the context of each school or department,” Reese stated in the report. “In such a decentralized system, a new office dedicated specifically to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would be less useful than it might be in a highly centralized structure, and I do not recommend it.”
Prior to Salovey’s announcement, Goff-Crews shared Reese’s findings with several faculty members, students and staff members. On March 4, Goff-Crews gave a presentation summarizing the report’s findings to the Student Advisory Group on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — which was formed last November to solicit input for the review — according to two members of the group. The individuals spoke to the News on the condition of anonymity because briefings on Reese’s report were conducted off the record and confidentially.
According to Yale College Council President Saloni Rao ’20, Goff-Crews met with Rao and other student leaders on Feb. 12 to discuss Reese’s recommendations. At the meeting, the group discussed how to best communicate Reese’s report to students, Rao said.
“It’s an excellent report, and we will release it and announce our response to it soon,” Goff-Crews wrote in an email to the News in March.
Title VI was established as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
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