An Update For Our Community:
On Friday, September 12, I met with President DeCoudreaux to discuss the concerns expressed in my previous statement to our campus community, which had also been sent to our President and Dean of Students in e-mails at an earlier date.
President DeCoudreaux was forthcoming about the College’s stated “soon” search for a new Multifaith Chaplain and Director of Spiritual and Religious Life. In the week of September 15, the job description was nationally posted (and can be accessed here). Depending on the timing of receipt and quality of applicants, we may see candidates brought to campus this semester. A search committee will review applicants, and then members of our community will be able to meet the selected candidates: I expressed my belief that our Peer Educators for Spiritual and Religious Life should be on this committee.
According to my prior knowledge, and in conversation with a much-respected member of our faculty, this length of time serves our interests in finding the best candidate: someone who is knowledgeable about and respects the need for attention to diverse spiritual paths, and who can become an integrated part of our community.
While we currently feel a non-existent department, the President expressed conviction that the restructuring of SRL will promote a more cohesive, comprehensive presence of spirituality on-campus. She has used her own time to put in research hours, examining how other colleges have run this type of department. Programming with a focus on education for our community will be included as a part of the new chaplain/director’s position. In the interim, the College is searching for someone to be on-campus several hours a week to serve our community.
Finally: since reporting the desecration of the Chapel, we students involved in creating the Mills Interfaith Alliance (MIA) have witnessed spotless upkeep of our sacred space.
The fear of MIA was that we were trying to fill a void which would continue throughout the school year. This fear was only made worse when we continuously received the impression that our spiritual needs were the last priority. Doubly painful is the sense that this part of our identities was denied a place at our beloved Mills.
I appreciate very much that the President welcomed me to meet with her, and stated that any student should feel free to request to meet with her. I appreciated hearing that the College had a plan, which until then, no one on campus could confirm to MIA—not staff, not faculty, certainly not another student.
But I would have appreciated more having simply read this one sentence I constructed out of our meeting, which could have been in our welcoming e-mail: “The College will have this new chaplain and director before the academic year ends, and interim services will be provided.”
We still would have had questions and frustrations—we will never not have them—but some of the fear I see permeating our community could have been lessened. My newest question is simply: to receive trust, must not trust be given?
MIA is still filling a void: while we support the necessary time to find the best-qualified candidate, watching our College with difficult patience, we also do not yet have any interim guidance from a trained spiritual leader. And we did not have this guidance from the start of the academic year.
When you see our meeting flyers, please consider joining us to discuss what needs we can help fill, what you want to see happen, or what conversations we can have among the diverse paths represented in our community. MIA will also plan and hold the beloved Mills tradition, the Festival of Light and Dark, in December.
Interest, questions, or suggestions from any member of the campus—student, staff, faculty, alumnae—can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rose Lopez ’14, MA ‘15
Class Agent of the Class of 2014
Member of the Indigenous Women’s Alliance
Member of the Mills Pagan Alliance
Member of the Mills Interfaith Alliance
Member of the Alumnae-Student Relations Committee
Member of the Alumnae of Color Committee
Accelerated Education Program—MA in Education, Single Subject Credential in English
See Lopez’s other letter here