Mistreated as Women of Color on Staff: Examined by OPB.

Native American and black student Lexi Peterson-Burge, 24, volunteers to speak at an open community forum March '18, hosted by the Office of Diversity, about racist events at Clark being nothing new. When she first started attending Clark in 2011, a student with swastika tattoos on his hands gave her a white-supremacy flier on one of her first days. (Luc Hoekstra / The Independent)

Luc Hoekstra – Editor in Chief

A Monday morning report by Oregon Public Broadcasting which highlighted ill-treatment toward women of color Clark staff prompted a Tuesday morning email from Bob Knight, college president, after OPB published the first of their two-part series.

The article, by Molly Solomon, quoted women of color who left staff positions at Clark within the past year including Summer Brown, who said she felt her white supervisors scrutinized her work as the only black counselor in the Counseling and Health Center.

The Indy covered Brown’s departure in the spring of 2018 when she, Dolly England, Felisciana Peralta, Loretta Capeheart and other women on staff left the college, all citing similar experiences as women of color.

Summer Brown revived Clark’s sexual health fair in 2017 and organized a second-annual fair this year due to the positive response the previous year.

Dolly England held the position of Diversity Outreach Manager and hosted a quarterly workshop called, “Young, Brown and Talented.”

Felisciana Peralta served as head of the Penguin Pantry, Clark’s on-campus food pantry for students and their families. Peralta left her position at Clark after nine years to serve as Mt. Hood Community College’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Loretta Capeheart lead the way to many community conversations about inequality on campus amid a series of racist events on campus.

Knight’s email echoed Clark’s commitment to a safe college for all and called the report from OPB, “disheartening.”

We cannot hope to properly serve our diverse student body if they do not see us valuing the employees who serve as their role models and mentors,” he said.  

Knight said he and the Executive Cabinet plans to offer staff and faculty debriefing sessions, opportunities for anonymous debriefing and a “college community gathering” to find solutions for retaining employees of color. The gathering will be announced at a later date by the Office of Diversity and Equity.

About Luc Hoekstra (39 Articles)
Luc is a 24-year-old student journalist in Vancouver, Washington. They will graduate from Clark College in 2019 having earned an Associates of Arts degree and a News Media Studies certificate. In their news writing, Luc often covers the theater, music and art departments. Luc has been published in the Columbian and is an arts freelancer at the Portland Mercury. Luc enjoys reading Mark Twain and classic Greek mythology.

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