By Lisa Dumas –
Students at Wells College are currently protesting the school’s decision to hire outside faculty to fill a position, instead of hiring visiting assistant criminal justice professor Shilpashri Karbhari, and placing Karbhari, a person of color who is already familiar with the college’s students, in the full-time position.
The students have labeled themselves “Occupation Monsoon,” and are presently holding a sit-in outside the college president’s office.
“This year, the college opened up a national search for a tenure-track job for her position,” the students stated in a press release. “The committee selected to chair the search was made up of entirely white faculty. Though the woman the committee selected was ultimately a woman of color, Wells College chose not to support their current, much-loved faculty member of color in order to fulfill a diversity statistic. Faculty of color—specifically International and Black faculty—have left the institution due to lack of support, and bias from administration and colleagues.”
The students’ list of demands includes a minimum four-year contract for Karbhari, as well as a full-time tenured position in her department.
“We’ve noticed that there’s not a lot of transparency with the hiring process, so we’re trying to demand that the professor we all favor gets the opportunity that she deserves,” senior Stephanie Moore stated. “We feel as though the process is biased, and the professor that got hired is fulfilling a quota, but not fulfilling the needs of the students.”
According to Moore, the group plans to protest until the end of the week, and if the administration doesn’t meet students’ demands, they’ll carry the protest over to next semester.
College president Jonathan Gibralter has released the following statement regarding the matter:
“While we have diversity among our faculty and staff, we are actively taking measures to increase proportionately historically underrepresented groups in the hiring process. We have already begun exploring opportunities for more student representation in the faculty search process.
I, along with the Board of Trustees, support and encourage our students to raise their voices, to peacefully and appropriately advocate and work for change, and I look forward to working with them – this week and in the future – on making our campus experience the best it can be for all students.”