By Andrea Traietti ’21
In just four years at Providence College, Quincy Bevely has become one of the leading voices for institutional diversity, equity, and inclusion (IDEI) in an administrative role at the College.
Since he joined PC in 2016, Bevely has served in several key positions in different departments across campus: he has held the title of assistant dean of students/director of cultural education, assistant vice president for institutional diversity, and most recently, Title VI and Title IX deputy coordinator.
It is in his newest of roles as Title VI deputy coordinator that Bevely is now responsible for PC’s compliance with Title VI requirements and for enforcing the College’s anti-harassment policy. This week, Bevely sat down with The Cowl to discuss the new Title VI projects he has been working on, and also to share his assessment of inclusivity on campus and his vision for continued progress at the College.
When Bevely formally took on the role of Title VI deputy coordinator in August, he quickly identified an area in need of immediate improvement. “I realized that there wasn’t any public forum or format for folks to submit bias reports,” said Bevely. “Additionally there was not a tool for anonymity. It allowed me to start thinking about what we could do as a college.”
So, Bevely got to work, researching other colleges’ bias response and reporting tools and putting together his own ideas for a similar reporting tool for PC. “We needed something with functionality to submit online reports, and to document and track them,” said Bevely. “The best way to do it was to create a bias response reporting tool.”
After consulting with members of the PC community from students to the College’s general counsel, PC’s new bias reporting form was released.
The form can be accessed on the Institutional Diversity page of PC’s website, and there is also a link to it on the Title VI resources tab of Student Congress’ website. It contains a series of dropdown questions for respondents to provide information regarding the incident and a space to describe the incident in detail. The form also provides an opportunity for respondents to choose to remain anonymous.
A key aspect of the reporting form that Bevely highlighted is its definition of different kinds of biases. One of the first questions the form asks respondents is, “What is the primary type of bias involved?” and provides a list of incidents to choose from, as well as an option to describe any other kind of bias not listed on the form.
Bevely said that the inclusion of this question has “given folks an understanding of how bias is defined, how it’s operationalized, and how these things adversely affect our college campus here at PC.”
The form arguably could not have come at a better time. In response to the murder of George Floyd this past May and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests that occurred across the nation, members of the PC community saw a need to address systemic racism and interpersonal racism towards BIPOC students at PC. Students, faculty, and alumni alike began turning to the Instagram account @BlackatPC, which emerged over the summer, in order to anonymously share their experiences with racism during their time at the College and bring attention to the need for changes in administrative and academic policies.
Bevely encourages students to participate in the @BlackatPC Instagram and cited the page as something that he has been proud to see. However, he noted that the bias reporting form from the College gives him the authority to actually act on and investigate incidents of bias in a way that he cannot simply from reading through the posts on the @BlackatPC page.
“[The reporting form] gives me the authority and the power to investigate the cases because I can’t adjudicate the social media platform,” Bevely said. “Students can submit those testimonials on our documentation form and we can adjudicate it, we can investigate it, we can look into the matter further.”
In terms of the community’s reaction to the reporting form, Bevely said, “What I’ve seen is more folks submitting issues of bias because of the tool.” He noted the importance of having a method to track incidents that appear as part of a pattern, and how much easier that process has been in an online format. “If we’re seeing commonalities, if we’re seeing consistent behaviors, if we’re seeing repeat offenders, it allows us to track those things,” said Bevely.
Bevely pointed out that while the reporting form is new, the College’s anti-harassment policy has not changed in any way. However, one of Bevely’s goals was to make the College’s Title VI response and anti-harassment protocol easier for members of the community to understand. The College’s anti-harassment policy is a five-page document that outlines the detailed nature of responding to incidents of bias in compliance with Title VI regulations.
“For me reading that policy, I felt like I was learning something new everytime I read it and I can only imagine how it was for folks without a Title VI purview,” said Bevely.
To make the process of investigations more transparent and easier to understand, the Office of IDEI created visual aids for students, faculty, and staff that present the College’s Title VI response as flowcharts. The flowcharts, which outline the several courses of action the College might take depending on the kind of incident and the people involved, are also linked on PC’s Institutional Diversity webpage.
A critical method for responding to bias-related incidents on campus, the reporting tool is only one part of what must be an all-encompassing approach to inclusivity at the College, which is something that Bevely emphasized.
“I want to point out that we’re not just taking a post-vention approach, meaning responding to things as they come,” said Bevely. “We’re preventive, we’re intervening.”
“It’s important to respond, but it’s mutually important to educate as well, to prevent these issues from happening, and to help us on the road to becoming a beloved community.”
Bevely mentioned several of the key initiatives that the Office of IDEI has taken on recently as part of its educational and preventative approach to DEI work. Last year, the Office created Advocates for a Beloved Community, a student group trained to combat biases, help educate other groups on campus, and promote reconciliation and social justice.
This summer, the College launched a virtual anti-racism series. Held over Zoom, the series featured five faculty-member-led sessions, and concluded with one student-led session. Bevely also mentioned that this year, the Office of IDEI started a diversity committee to work with the Board of Trustees, which is the first committee of its kind.
Bevely emphasized that the College’s approach to inclusion and diversity is one that expands beyond the Office of IDEI. “Most folks would say either a ground-up or a top-down approach,” Bevely said. “We have neither. We have all-encompassing.”
DEI efforts at PC continue to involve different student groups, faculty members, and members of administration from across campus. Bevely stressed this point in how he conceptualizes the Office of IDEI’s role in interacting and collaborating with the College community at large: “We’re empowering them to do the work of diversity because it’s the responsibility of the entire college, not just the responsibility of our office, and we strategically set up our office in that way,” he said.
“The work that we’re doing—we’re trying to weave it into the whole entire college.”
As the Office of IDEI and the College at large moves forward with these and other initiatives to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus, Bevely noted the challenge of trying to anticipate and plan for where the College might be years down the line, especially because of the uncertainty of the present moment.
When asked where he sees the trajectory of the College’s efforts five years from now, Beverly answered, “That’s a really difficult question because of where we are nationally, just given the unrest, given the political election, given the climate around campus, given the issues that the virus is creating with marginalized communities.”
Bevely said, “I hope that our office can work a little bit more with the Smithfield community. I would like to see a better relationship so as to be a resource and pillar for the community around restorative justice practices, around education, and around biases. But I think in order to branch out into the community we first have to take care of home, so I’m hoping over these next five years we can work to make PC more inclusive, increase representation for faculty of color, make it more equitable for all, make the sense of belonging for students better.”
While the long-term impact of the Office’s efforts remain to be determined by the outcome of current events, Bevely was certainly confident about one thing we are seeing right now: the momentum of the movement.
“The momentum has been unprecedented during this time, and I think the pandemic has contributed at large to that, where folks have had an ability to pause, be present, watch the news, see the things that are happening, and become more globally educated,” said Bevely. He added, “If I had to hang my hat on something that I’m very excited for, it’s that [momentum] is swinging in the right direction.”
“I feel like for the first time in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we’ve captured a large ear and we’ve captured a lot of attention from the general public,” he noted. “For the first time, allyship is through the roof. You have folks asking, ‘What can I do to help?’ ‘How can I commit myself to the work of anti-racism?’ ‘How can I influence diversity, equity, and inclusion?’”
The energy of the current movement for inclusivity and diversity on campus is something Bevely remains proud of. “I’m very proud of things like the @BlackatPC Instagram page, the students mobilizing and speaking out, the stories that we’re hearing, how things that have been in the dark are coming to light. I’m very proud of the change.”
Bevely specifically mentioned that he has been proud of the efforts Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P., has made in his first few months as President of the College. “We have a president that’s very committed to DEI at the College,” said Bevely. “We have a president that’s willing to get his elbows dirty, get on the front lines with us, and has shown us not just by talk but by walking, by action, his commitment and his ability to really influence change.”
The challenge, of course, is preserving the energy of the movement when the pandemic eventually passes and our daily lives begin to look more like they did pre-COVID-19.
“The concern that I would have with momentum is how sustainable it is,” said Bevely. “How do we keep the momentum going, how do we carry it on, how do we allow this to not just be a moment in time or something that’s just popular in the media?”
“With the momentum, this has to continue to matter,” he said. “And the way that it continues to matter is to keep it at the forefront of our current issues.”
How can we keep the movement for social justice at the forefront? For starters, “I think we all have to continue to educate ourselves, we all have to continue to listen,” Bevely said. “There has to be a willingness to collaborate with one another, to engage across differences, to understand differences, to listen to each other more and to respect our differences.”
“We’re a college of spirituality,” he added, “so I think we all have to approach with grace, we all have to be empathetic, we all have to understand that everyone comes to the College with their own personal story, their own personal narrative.”
Bevely stressed that DEI work at the College must continue to be collaborative: to be successful, our efforts to make PC more equitable and inclusive have to expand beyond the Office of IDEI alone and reach every corner of campus. “It’s going to take all of us to change the climate at PC, and we’re there to foster the experience, we’re there to co-create the beloved community, but without the efforts of the entire college, none of this is possible,” said Bevely.
So how can we keep the momentum going on campus? For Bevely, it continues to fall on each of us to stay engaged, to take action, and to keep our efforts going as a movement, not just a moment. “I think it’s simple,” he said. “We can’t let up. Don’t you let up.”