Pete Williams ’76 with Amanda Rosenblum ’07, November 2020
(excerpted in part in the November 2020 DGALA newsletter)
On October 15th of this year, DGALA’s board of directors, together with the Dartmouth Asian Pacific American Alumni Association (DAPAAA) Executive Board and concerned DAPAAA Alumni, wrote to President Hanlon, urging the College to provide institutional backing and long-term funding for Dartmouth’s relatively new Consortium of Studies in Race, Migration, and Sexuality (RMS Consortium). Of our Ivy League peers, Dartmouth remains the sole institution without a centralized race/ethnicity/ migration studies program, and there remains a notable lack of funding in the areas of sexuality and gender studies. DGALA believes that increased investment in this effort is a necessary step toward addressing systemic inequalities, and preparing our students to identify, tackle, and dismantle inequities across the globe.
The Consortium is directed by Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Professor Eng-Beng Lim, who was instrumental in starting the program and already making it a significant presence on campus during what is now its second year of operation. The Consortium is co-directed by Professor Kimberly Juanita Brown, and has 19 founding faculty members across the college’s departments. Notably, Matthew Garcia, professor of history and Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies and founding RMS faculty member is co-chairing the search committee for Dartmouth’s first Senior Vice President of Diversity and Equity.
DGALA and DAPAAA leaders led an awareness campaign with all alumni prior to Alumni Council that resulted in a significant number of emails about RMS being shared with alumni councilors and the Alumni Liaison committee. RMS was brought up repeatedly during Alumni Council. We hope to continue to elevate the conversation.
As a result of emails to President Hanlon and the Dean of the Faculty Professor Elizabeth Smith, the leaders have now scheduled an early November meeting with Professor Smith, whose office provided initial support for the Consortium and could be instrumental in assuring its continuation and growth.
To learn more about the RMS Consortium, DGALA recently conducted a virtual interview with Professor Lim, who is Dartmouth’s first tenured professor specializing in LGBTQIA-related academics.
Would you tell us more about the Consortium?
Thank you so much for your inquiry. I have had several meetings with the leadership of DAPAAA and DGALA concerning RMS’s status and future.
RMS is driven primarily by faculty and student interest on questions of justice (economic, social, racial, gender, sexual, migrant). It has tremendous buy-in from our campus community, and has a national presence with over twenty top scholars on our advisory board.
In terms of the Consortium’s priorities, we are putting together the following:
- An interdisciplinary minor
- Strengthening our Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows program (we recruited 30 this Fall)
- Weekly Faculty workshops and salons, “Putting Radical Thought to Action.”
- Humanities Institute on Transnational and Decolonial Ethnic Studies
- Consortium lectures
- Weekly newsletter (that you can subscribe by writing to us).
Our curriculum is aligned with intersectional and decolonial approaches to questions race, migration and sexuality.
My sense is that new initiatives in academia can be a challenge to advance. What is the current status and future hopes for the Consortium?
In terms of the College’s support, Dean Smith provided generous seed funding to establish the Consortium on May 6, 2019. Our agreement was for the funding to last 12-18 months, and to then find sustainable funding after that. In the meantime, I have secured additional funding from the Leslie Center [at Dartmouth] to augment her initial infusion of funds. We hope to become a Center and/or to find reliable sources of funding. Institutional priorities and fundraising are areas that are outside of my control or honestly, understanding. However, lots of alums have expressed support for RMS.
Because the work we do as a Consortium is also a matter of faculty volunteerism, we can do this work regardless of the College’s fundraising efforts. Having structural permanency would obviously have greater impact across the board on campus, and facilitate this work better. I can say in the areas where faculty have control, that is around RMS curricular re-thinking and programming for example, there is immense excitement about the Consortium across the campus. We are currently well positioned to make transformative contributions to the College in intersectional and decolonial studies of race, migration, and sexuality and their critical surround. Also, in areas of under- or zero representation, such as Asian American Studies and queer studies, RMS will try to fill in the gap and provide small offerings in and through RMS.
How does the Consortium compare with what other peer institutions are doing?
No other peer institution has a center that incorporates queerness and sexuality as part of their thinking on race. And speaking of race, we are the only Ivy League campus without a center on race and ethnicity, let alone gender and sexuality! We are on fallow ground indeed.
If you would like to express your support for the RMS Consortium and for Dartmouth to provide institutional backing and long-term funding to RMS, please write to the Alumni Liaison Committee at email@example.com. Those emails are shared with the Board of Trustees.