Yoshiko Harden has announced that she will resign her position as Bellevue College’s Vice President of Equity and Pluralism and move on to Seattle Central College as their new vice president of Student Services at the end of March.
Harden has held her position at BC for the past 3 years and 8 months.
Previously, she worked at Highline College as a retention coordinator and eventually became Highline’s Director of Multicultural Services. For her, working at BC was a great experience. “I learned a lot,” Harden said. “I got to understand what it’s like to work closely with President Rule.”
Once she is gone, an interim VP of Equity will be hired to the position, selected from current BC staff. Harden said that the positives of this are that an internal person will have familiarity with the college. ”I really want that person to keep things moving with the diversity and equity plan,” said Harden. “I would be disappointed if that just gets stalled. […] I think it’s really important.”
“The next vice president will be involved in diversity and inclusion,” said Harden. “I hope that work continues.”
One of the things Harden is proud of is the fact that prospective tenure track faculty have to take educational equity training before being accepted. The program, which is now in its third year, is something that she worked to implement.
Gender neutral multi-stall restrooms are another addition that Harden pushed for. She said she thinks about what the college hasn’t done before and what it can do moving forward. “I hope that work continues,” said Harden. By working with BC’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, Harden contributed a draft of plans that will improve diversity and equity at Bellevue College.
Leaders from Bellevue College’s center for ethical change held listening sessions last week for students and staff. The purpose of the sessions was to work on a draft of their diversity and equity plan by sharing it with students and looking for feedback. The facilitators emphasized that they wanted the environment for discussion to be a “gracious space,” described as “the spirit and setting where we invite the stranger and learn in public.”
The committee wanted students to share from their own experiences, name problems and solutions and to be open. Students had the opportunity to discuss how Bellevue College’s Affirmation of Inclusion played a role in their life.
“We care a lot about equity, diversity and inclusion,” said Jennifer Le, one of the facilitators and a sociology professor at BC. She said it’s important that students and staff are “not just talking the talk but walking the walk.”
“BC is inclusive, but we’re still working on diversity,” said Sasha Lee, BC’s vice president of student affairs and pluralism.
The purpose of the plan was to emphasize equity and inclusion on campus. “We’re gathering the data so we can better help you guys,” said Lee.
Lee also explained that even with the diversity on campus, there are still achievement gaps in certain student populations. The diversity and equity plan aims to help those students and close the gap. “We want everybody to be exceptional here,” said Lee.