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ASMC Raises Concerns About Diversity at Mills

A letter of intent from ASMC regarding the absence of a director
of Student Diversity Programs at Mills elevated dialogue about
diversity on campus.

The ASMC Executive Board delivered the letter to Dr. Hilda
Hernández-Gravelle, Senior Advisor to the President of the
College and Acting Vice President for Student Affairs, on Oct. 22.
The letter was written in response to concerns that were raised
about the absence of a director of Student Diversity Programs,
after director Lisa McRipley’s departure in late

The letter addressed several concerns regarding “the
importance of diversity programming in building community and in
the retention and enrollment of students, particularly students of

It stressed the need for attention to be paid to the financial
and technical support of the position of the director and addressed
questions about staffing and serving students in the interim

“We were concerned because the administration hadn’t
said anything about this to students,” said Gloria Espinosa,
ASMC Co-President, who aided in writing the letter.

Hernández-Gravelle said she was happy to hear from the
ASMC, but added that she has spent much time evaluating the
position already and that the letter does not change her priorities
on the matter.

“I appreciate student concern and care, but it’s
important that students are well informed before making
demands,” Hernández-Gravelle said.

The letter suggested looking into the financial and staffing
needs of the position. It said that the “relatively small
budget allotted to the position” doesn’t seem
appropriate since it’s expected “to support the needs
of all Mills students.” It also recommended expanding the
Diversity Office in order to have two full-time permanent positions
to best aid students.

The ASMC board members asked Hernández-Gravelle to use
the funds previously allocated for McRipley’s position, which
is currently vacant, to create a Diversity Programming Fund to
“fund diversity programs put on by various sources on

Hernández-Gravelle said the money that is designated for
student management is entirely separate from money allocated for
the administration. The two will remain separate in the future,
said Hernández-Gravelle.

“That is the nature of budgeting,”
Hernández-Gravelle said. “We may allocate funds for
things that warrant funds, but that is ultimately our

Hernández-Gravelle looks forward to putting together a
committee to search for a new director of Student Diversity
Programs after re-structuring the position.

Junior Rozena Harten, president and founder of the Sista Soul
Alliance, which assists with diversity programs, suggested the
formation of a committee made up of staff, faculty, and students
who are part of the ASMC and the Women of Color Coalition.

“My organization supports any issues around that position
because we are a black organization and therefore we have something
to do with it,” Harten said.

She believes that it will take a long time to fully re-structure
the position, but suggested filling McRipley’s vacant
position immediately.

“I don’t think that the school is equipped to deal
with this quite yet because of the resignations that have happened
in the Office of Student Life and the problems that it currently
faces,” Harten said. “The solution proposed in the
letter is a long term solution which will be very beautiful when
and if it ever happens.”

She said that the main objective of the director of Student
Diversity Programs is to support women of color on campus.

“The lack of support for women of color on campus is very
huge,” Harten said. “To get away from this problem
right now would be a mistake.”

Espinosa shares Harten’s viewpoint.

“We understand that they’re under new management,
for lack of a better term, and looking to fill the role of the
deans quickly, but we wrote the letter because students
didn’t know what was going on,” Espinosa said.
“After talking with Dr. Hernández-Gravelle, we decided
opening a dialogue between OSL and the Mills community would be
best so that everyone hopefully can be included in the

Hernández-Gravelle said that she doesn’t have any
strong objections to the points made in the letter.

“Basically there are no glaring disagreements in our
points of view,” Hernández-Gravelle said, “we
agree more or less on everything. But it’s premature for me
to be shifting things drastically around here.”