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CLC Takes Steps to Build an Inclusive Campus

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Aug 06, 2020

In response to recent issues locally and nationally, the College of Lake County is creating new processes to support racial healing and an inclusive campus climate for students, faculty, and staff. The processes have been established as a result of student, community and employee listening sessions conducted over the past year. The need to build capacity for productive dialogue, active listening and actions to strengthen the CLC community was amplified by the racial incidents playing out across communities nationwide. The time is now to enact new ways to address historic harms and uphold the College’s mission to provide equitable high-quality education to advance the diverse communities of Lake County.

These new efforts are guided by the College values of inclusion, compassion, purpose, unity, integrity and excellence and its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The College has actively listened and learned from a diverse set of individuals about the resources needed to help students, the institution, and the community to resolve conflict, improve communications, build relationships and respect all students’ rights to free speech. We are committed to creating a campus environment where every student and every employee feels a sense of belonging, and doing so requires ongoing evaluation of our practices, working transparently on issues and acknowledging shortfalls within our system.

A committee of faculty and staff representing the Diversity Council, the Legal Studies and Psychology departments, Student Affairs and Administration, and Trustees have been reviewing feedback from the listening sessions and providing input to the development of a restorative healing process that will be implemented this fall to create an inclusive climate that builds student, employee and community relationships.

CLC’s Diversity Council has been doing wonderful work to establish community and restorative circles, which are both a core indigenous wisdom tradition and a contemporary restorative practice. Community and restorative circles seek to unearth and unlearn the deeply held, and often unconscious, beliefs created by racism, particularly the belief in a ‘hierarchy of human value,’ which is the perception of inferiority or superiority based on race, physical characteristics or place of origin. The College’s creation of circles will gather people together for conversation and may be used to provide a vehicle for communicating when problems arise, rather than handling them in less constructive ways.

Circles make online meetings, classes, advisory, and gatherings of all kinds more relational, intentional, and meaningful. Circles promote substantive and meaningful dialogue that support individuals in discovering their beliefs, understanding others, learning how to express themselves and identify other factors that support relationship and community building. The practice of circles brings about transformational and sustainable cultural change and addresses the historic and contemporary effects of racism through its focus on these areas: narrative change, separation, economy, law, and racial healing and relationship building.

The College is also exploring the implementation of restorative justice practices and a bias response team. It is imperative that students are actively engaged in the development of these elements to build trust and to uphold the shared and collective accountability that is necessary to create transformative sustainable change.

I value and welcome your support in these efforts and thank you for continuing to provide your feedback.

Dr. Lori Suddick
College of Lake County

About College of Lake County:

The College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. The College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.