On Friday, October 4, The Reed College Quest published an open letter written by Student Body President Pax Lloyd-Burchett outlining student concerns with the Reed College administration. In the following weeks, Lloyd-Burchett reached out to many members of the administration and met with senior administrators — including Vice President for Student Life Mike Brody, Associate Dean of Students for Academic Life Julie Maxfield, and Title IX Coordinator and Program Director for Restorative Practices Santi Alston — to discuss the concerns laid out in the letter.
Generally, the responses that Lloyd-Burchett received from administrators included “strong agreement that we are at a point of change” at Reed. Discussions centered around high-level questions about the aims of the Reed administration, including reflections on how students and administrators interact and on the lack of inter-departmental communication and cooperation within the administration.
Lloyd-Burchett’s meeting with Brody focused on student success goals, Brody’s changing relationship with the student body, and the organization of the search committee that will select his replacement over the coming months. “Of the people on the administration, I’ve had a relationship with Mike the longest,” Lloyd-Burchett explained. “So our dynamic is very different than my dynamics with most of the other administrators. We talked more generally about the state of Reed right now because that’s the level at which he operates.”
Brody and Lloyd-Burchett talked about a meeting held between Brody, President Audrey Bilger, and members of the Students with Disabilities Coalition. “[The administrators] felt pretty productive about that meeting… some of the concerns were addressed, some of the things that were misinformation were addressed, and then some of the things that [the administration] weren’t doing, they were like, ‘that’s something we can get on,’” Lloyd-Burchett stated.
They also talked about Brody’s relationship with the student body. “Mike’s in a weird place right now. He knows a lot of people don’t like him — and some people do… but he’s still here for another nine months.” Lloyd-Burchett reported that Brody will begin hosting regular office hours to meet with students. He also expressed his hope that the committee to select Brody’s replacement “will contain all three constituencies” of students, staff, and faculty.
The meeting with Maxfield centered on communication within the administration and between the administration and the student body. Maxfield discussed the issue of siloing, where administrators in different offices lack ways to communicate with each other. “If you’re in the Office for Institutional Diversity, and Julie has a colleague in Disability Accessibility Resources, and you two are working on parallel projects, there’s no way to know,” Lloyd-Burchett explained. As far as communication between the student body and the administration, “student and administration relationships have recently felt more adversarial… I think the meanness of the nation is sort of leaking into Reed.” One possible solution proposed during the meeting was creating a campus culture that is more willing to celebrate success among students and staff, rather than focusing on failure.
Alston’s meeting highlighted the changes occurring within the administration — specifically, the Multicultural Resource Center and SEEDS transitioning to being under the auspices of the Office for Institutional Diversity. They also talked about the importance of staff diversity. As Lloyd-Burchett explained, “The first time Santi was in a senior staff meeting, the people of color in the room were Santi and Bruce [Smith]. That was it. So, making sure that there are diverse senior-staff-level folks is important.”
Lloyd-Burchett was unable to meet with Gary Granger at the time of publication due to their busy schedules, although they plan to meet soon to discuss the letter. Lloyd-Burchett was more hesitant to discuss Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Milyon Trulove’s response to the letter. Trulove and Lloyd-Burchett did not meet, although Trulove responded to Lloyd-Burchett’s email in “more or less” the same way as the other administrators, according to Lloyd-Burchett. Lloyd-Burchett also said that he might reach out to former administrators to discuss the letter and their input for the administration.
A lot of meetings, people with titles, buzz words and vague commitments. Really hard to tell what, if anything, is going on here. Uninspiring but seems harmless enough. Carry on! — Claude Singer ’68