Westmont Magazine Students Stage Polite Sit-In
When the faculty personnel committee declined to renew the contract of a Westmont sociology professor, a group of students actively expressed their disappointment. They circulated a petition, asked friends to wear green shirts in support of the teacher and conducted a two-hour sit-in in Kerrwood Hall in April. The Santa Barbara News-Press and the local television station covered the event. Rather than chanting slogans or disrupting business, the students read or worked quietly on their laptops. They used their presence and a thoughtfully written statement to make their point with faculty and administrators.
Until they receive tenure, faculty remain on probation and undergo regular reviews by their peers. Professors with tenure enjoy significant job security, so the faculty personnel committee considers tenure decisions carefully and deliberately.
The sociology professor is one of seven faculty of color on campus, and some students, faculty and staff expressed concern about the loss of diversity. While Westmont is attracting an increasing number of students and staff of color, efforts to recruit a more diverse faculty have been less successful. Last year, the college made offers to three candidates of color, but two accepted positions at research universities. This year, one of the six new professors is a person of color.
Faculty search committees will continue to recruit candidates of color and seek ways to increase the diversity of the faculty.