Progress Report: Training and Dialogue and Campus Culture

Dear members of the College and Conservatory community,

As we near the end of the semester, there is much progress to report regarding our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and our efforts to improve the culture at Berklee.

Training and Dialogue

On March 28, Jessica Teperow, the director of prevention programs for Reach Beyond Domestic Violence, was on campus to conduct a series of educational conversations related to intimate partner violence. The workshops focused on informing the community about issues and resources regarding intimate partner abuse. In addition to an open session for all students, faculty, and staff, individual sessions were scheduled for and tailored to subsets of the community, including faculty, student leaders, Public Safety, the Equity leadership team, and staff in Human Resources, Student Enrollment and Engagement, Health and Wellness, and Counseling Services.

The offices of Faculty Development and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion held the inaugural sessions of Moving Forward: A Speaker Series on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on March 29, featuring guest speakers Jamie Washington and Maura Cullen. During each of the two sessions, our community was engaged in a rich dialogue about embracing our differences and understanding the power of impact over intention in our words and actions. If you were unable to attend, we encourage you to view them online. These sessions were followed by three discussions on April 4, April 11, and April 12 in which participants were able to delve deeper into these topics in a small group setting.

During the first week of April, Title IX expert Jody Shipper was on campus to engage several groups within our community. She, along with Kelly Downes, chief equity officer and Title IX coordinator, facilitated an educational session on policy for the Working Group to review the current Title IX landscape with specific focus on issues related to sanctioning policy, guiding principles, and best practices, as well as small group reflection sessions and individual meetings with Working Group members. Shipper also convened a leadership session for the President’s Council and Academic Leadership Council to provide a foundational overview of Title IX and the current landscape; key considerations for leaders who manage staff, faculty, and/or students; and an interactive discussion facilitated with some hypothetical, case-based scenarios.

In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Week (SAAW) from April 17 to 22, Berklee hosted programming and events to raise awareness and encourage reflection and dialogue around sexual violence and gender-based harm on our campus and throughout the world. This year’s theme, “Framing the Future,” was centered on on how we—as a community—can tangibly move forward to create spaces that are supportive of survivors, and recognize that we all have a role in taking steps to prevent sexual violence and gender-based harm.

During the week, community members also had the opportunity to acknowledge someone at Berklee whose actions support the prevention of violence in our community by nominating them as a Berklee Upstander. Award winners were acknowledged at the Best of Berklee Awards on April 19, and honorees were presented with the official Berklee Upstander pin.

On April 17, community members were offered the opportunity to participate in a video and photo campaign that asked, “How will you take action to create meaningful change in the College and Conservatory community?” The videos will be used for ongoing educational efforts throughout the academic year.

Lastly, with Berklee signing on as a corporate sponsor, a team of students, staff, and faculty participated in the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center’s Walk for Change on April 22. We would like to thank the entire SAAW committee of students and staff who thoughtfully led the development and execution of this programming.

Campus Climate and Culture Plan

In an effort to support our vision for 2025, which emphasizes building an “inclusive culture” and promoting “diversity in all its forms,” students were invited to take Berklee’s first-ever student equity survey in spring 2017. This survey was designed to gauge campus climate and collect data on student experiences with, and perceptions of, discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, and nonconsensual sexual conduct. The results will provide insights that our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team will use to inform further program development. View a summary of the survey results.

The Office of Innovation and Strategy is developing an institutional plan for creating a culture that promotes respect, equity, and creativity based on conversations they have had with hundreds of members of the community, including the Working Group. The draft will be published for commenting later this summer with the hope of presenting it at Opening Day.

Berklee's ETUDE Scholars rolled out the Equity Partners Program in March. Equity partners will volunteer to undergo a series of professional development sessions on equity and on developing the knowledge and skills to ensure that all faculty, staff, and students feel welcome as full members of the Berklee community. To date, 28 faculty and staff members have completed an Equity Partners Foundation Session. The ETUDE Scholars are working to schedule summer programming and plan to offer a new two-part workshop on race and racism in the classroom (in addition to offering existing workshops on trans* student support, microaggressions, and difficult classroom conversations).

Working Group

The Working Group convened five times this semester with the aim of developing a shared understanding of the foundational issues surrounding harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct that impact the lives of our students, faculty, and staff and recommending ways to create the inclusive and respectful community outlined in our vision for 2025. As a reminder, you may keep up to date on their work by visiting the Action Steps section of the website, which is where meeting notes, past communications, and the equity timeline are posted.

Moving Forward

As this vital work continues, let’s collectively move toward a Berklee where we listen to each other with empathy and kindness—a Berklee where we actively engage in difficult conversations that require both a self awareness and a willingness to dwell in the kind of discomfort that will help us grow beyond our own personal edges of this work. Let us move forward with this shared understanding, and make Berklee the best it can be.


Roger H. Brown
President, Berklee

Betsy Newman
Senior Vice President, Student Enrollment and Engagement, Berklee

Larry Simpson
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost, Berklee

Cathy Young
Executive Director, Boston Conservatory at Berklee