News Releases

Oberlin College to Help Create a National Coalition of Liberal Arts Institutions to Examine Race and Equity on Campuses

November 13, 2020

Office of Communications

Front Entry of Cox Administrative Building.
Photo credit: Office of Communications

OBERLIN, OHIO — Oberlin College announced that it is partnering with five other prominent institutions to establish the Liberal Arts College Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA) to foster greater understanding on matters of race and equity at liberal arts institutions across the country.

The alliance will help provide liberal arts colleges with additional tools to examine campus culture and to lead more effectively on issues of racial equity.

The partnership complements the work of the Presidential Initiative on Racial Equity and Diversity that President Carmen Twillie Ambar created earlier this year in response to increasing injustice and racial tensions in America. 

‘‘I am proud that Oberlin is playing a leading role in the conversations liberal arts colleges must have about race and equity on their campuses and in our country,” President Ambar said. “Oberlin is privileged to be one of the five institutions that developed this idea, and with today’s announcement, we are inviting other colleges to join in this valuable endeavor.’’

LACRELA is being founded in partnership with the University of Southern California (USC) Race and Equity Center under the direction of Shaun Harper. The other founding institutions include DePauw University, Macalester College, Occidental College, and Pomona College.

Harper also is assisting the Presidential Initiative to help examine racial attitudes on campus.

LACRELA’s innovative approach will offer resources to member colleges, including:

Beginning in January, the USC Equity Center will host monthly eConvenings on a particular aspect of racial equity such as confronting acts of racism and racial violence on campus.

An online repository of resources and tools for every employee of member colleges. The content will include downloadable equity-related rubrics, readings, case studies, videos, slide decks, and conversation scripts.

A trio of campus climate surveys focusing on perceptions of equitable opportunities, sense of belonging, unfair treatment, and more. The surveys will be offered on a three-year rotation, with the first year focusing on students, the second year focusing on faculty, and the third year focusing on staff.

Presidents of Alliance member colleges will meet quarterly to confidentially share strategies, seek advice, and brainstorm ways to leverage the Alliance for collective impact on racial equity in higher education. Occasionally, presidents will be invited to rapid response strategy meetings, depending upon events of national importance.

‘‘When I announced the Presidential Initiative, the Oberlin community embraced the concept and recognized its important role during these challenging times,’’ President Ambar said. ’’LACRELA will accelerate our work in Oberlin and help liberal arts institutions across the country benefit from self-examination, improvement, and collective examination of how we all can improve circumstances for people of color and make a difference in this world.’’

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