Organized by Dr. Jessica N. Pabón-Colón (Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies):
In the spring of 2016, I created a group called the “Women of Color Network” for faculty and staff here at SUNY New Paltz. I did so in the hopes that we could retain and sustain one another at our predominantly white university by building meaningful community that would provide the practical, social, and emotional tools necessary for women of color to thrive within academia. Without too much of a humble brag, creating this group (and hence being a part of it) was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Over the years, our group has gone to the movies off campus (Wakanda forever!) and attended performances on campus (e.g. For Colored Girls; In the Time of The Butterflies), (co)hosted teach-ins and speaker series (e.g. Whose Free Speech?), and enjoyed various lunches, dinners, and happy hours. I’m emailing today to announce once more that we are now the “People of Color Network.”
We invite all faculty and staff who identify as people of color to join us in our new formation (yes, that is a Beyoncé reference).
Non-POC faculty and staff supervisors/chairs: I would really appreciate it if you would ensure new employees see this invitation.
While we are open to members taking action on particular topics as needs arise, we do not wish to add to our responsibilities with expectations for more service work; in short, the POCN is not a “service” committee. Our gatherings provide an opportunity to interact with folks who may work in different areas of the university as well as for new staff or junior faculty to foster mentorships with senior staff or faculty. We make space for members to share personal and professional challenges and successes in a confidential environment: discussion topics are not always set ahead of time, often we let them arise organically based on the needs of our members. That said, last semester we had two themed meetings: “What’s In a Name? The Stakes and Context of Using the Phrase ‘Women of Color’” and “Cultivating and Sustaining Self Care.”
We need each other more than ever. Taking our current context into consideration, I want to be sure to note that the network is open to POC folk in administration; if you hesitated to join in the past, now is the time! Because we are a group of faculty (tenured, non-tenured, adjunct), professional staff, and administrators, we do our best to be cognizant of and address the varying power dynamics within the group.
I will be scheduling our first virtual gathering soon. So, if you’re interested in joining, please email me off list and I will add you to the our Office365 group “POC-N.”