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Interview Cont’d

commitment to every student as one of its key strengths, when asked about her chief focuses for progress at the College, she cited, “Deep work around equity and inclusion on campus.”

She contrasted the social environment that the College strives for with that of the United States presently, which she said is, in some ways, more socioeconomically, racially and ethnically segregated than it has ever been.

“We are trying to create a community here where students are really working together, having excellent experiences and learning from one another in fruitful ways where they can grow and be safe, and we always need to think about how we can be doing that better,” she said.

“We don’t expect everyone to know everything walking in the door; we don’t expect everyone to know what someone else might want or need based on their own experiences or culture or identity. But we expect people to be interested in and committed to learning what respect looks like to somebody else and then acting on that information.”

This idea of respect underlies much of Bolton’s thinking on equity and inclusion. When asked about “safe spaces” and, on the other hand, the importance of welcoming and encouraging difficult conversations, Bolton said, “I think that people having this fundamental idea about respect and being committed to the idea of understanding what respect looks like to somebody else and engaging with them in a respectful way has to underlie any kind of push toward more difficult discussions.”

“Because what we don’t want is to be pushing toward an idea of more difficult discussions that actually ends up playing out in one or a few sets of students, perhaps underrepresented students, carrying a further or new set of burdens, or having to manage a set of conversations which might really make their experience here more difficult.”

Another theme of Bolton’s approach to her position is a keen understanding of the College’s place in communities larger than itself. 

She spoke ambitiously of the potential for ever more fruitful relationships to other liberal arts institutions through the two consortia of which the College is a member, the Five Colleges of Ohio and the Great Lakes Colleges Association.

She also spoke of advocacy work the College has done with Ohio legislators, on many issues, including, recently, DACA and Title IX.

Regarding the recent address by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announcing planned changes to the Office of Civil Rights’ guidance on Title IX enforcement, Bolton seemed concerned, but acknowledged that the end result of DeVos’ review of Title IX may be different than her initial announcement suggested.

Bolton explained that, at this point, DeVos had talked to a wide variety of individuals, both people accused of and harmed by sexual violence, “And I think her first interpretation was to take everyone’s concerns at face value,” she said.

Bolton said that she hopes the next step will be to separate concerns regarding the ways individual colleges have handled Title IX from systemic concerns rooted in the Office of Civil Rights’ guidance, itself. She seemed to suggest, and certainly to hope, that doing so would lead to different conclusions than those initially indicated by DeVos.

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