Critical race theory opponents prompt CLC to delay administrator's hiring
The College of Lake County board has delayed the hiring of an administrator to oversee diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives on campus in an effort to ease some community members' concerns about critical race theory.
Twenty-four members of the public recently told the board they opposed the hiring, believing it would lead to critical race theory -- the academic examination of social, cultural and legal issues as they relate to race and racism in the United States -- being taught on campus.
Critical race theory is not taught at the community college and there are no plans for its implementation, officials said. Seventeen members of the public expressed support for the hiring of diversity, equity and inclusion administrator.
Despite the delay, college board members defended plans to hire the administrator.
Board Chair Amanda Howland said diversity means more than just race, citing other examples such as religion, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation and wealth.
"You're trying to help people where they need help, but you're not teaching race and you're not teaching critical race theory. That just has no part in it," Howland said at a board meeting last month.
Board member Gerri Songer, who works for Northwest Suburban High School District 214, said the district's diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives have led to positive experiences. Songer, who is white, said the process includes uncomfortable discussions with people of different races.
"They really opened my eyes with honest conversations about the things they'd gone through," she added.
Songer asked that the discussion of hiring a DEI administrator be delayed until the board's next meeting, scheduled for Aug. 24, so officials can share more information about the job and its role on campus.
"I think people might feel a little better about the whole idea of it if they had a better idea of what it would look like," she said.
CLC President Lori Suddick said the hiring of a DEI administrator is part of CLC's strategic plan to help provide an equitable high-quality education to the diverse communities it serves.
Suddick said the administrator, if hired, would work to ensure policies, systems and processes infuse the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion to support every student.
"As an open access institution of higher education, CLC is responsible for ensuring it provides holistic student services, learning experiences, and co-curricular options that meet the needs of a very broad spectrum of students," Suddick said. "Research shows the provision of these basic needs improves the likelihood of successful degree attainment."
If the board approves the DEI administrator position at the August meeting, recruitment would begin in September, Suddick said.