May 30, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend Sacking At Salem

The Winston-Salem Journal reported Sunday that Dr. Krishauna Hines-Gaither has been relieved of her duties as Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusiveness at Salem College. Dr. Hines-Gaither may still remain at Salem as assistant professor of Spanish.

Salem Sits, a blog ran by Salem students first reported Dr. Hines-Gaither’s removal from her position as Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusiveness on Thursday, just before the Memorial Day Weekend began. Clearly, Salem College’s administration chose to remove Dr. Hines-Gaither at a time that would draw the least amount of public scrutiny.

Here’s The Journal’s excerpt of the letter that Salem College President Lorraine Sterritt released explaining her actions:

“The events of the past year have demonstrated that Salem needs to dedicate more resources to diversity and inclusiveness,” Sterritt wrote. “In order to enhance our efforts, we have decided to restructure the current functions of the Office of Diversity and Inclusiveness.

“We will create a full-time position at the assistant vice president level that will provide expanded services to both the Academy and the College,” Sterritt wrote, referring to both the high school and the college. “And we will be conducting a national search to fill this new role.”

According to President Sterritt, Dr. Hines-Gaither was relieved of her non-Spanish teaching duties at Salem in order to find a full-time Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusiveness. No one will fault Salem for wanting to beef up its efforts to promote diversity and inclusiveness. But why wouldn’t they give the expanded diversity/inclusiveness position to Dr. Hines-Gaither? Or at a minimum let Dr. Hines-Gaither interview for the position?

Sacking Hines-Gaither on the eve of a holiday weekend didn’t go unnoticed. Students at Salem are upset. The activists at Salem College that led a successful week-long sit-in in April appear to be universally against Dr. Hines-Gaither’s removal. Salem Sits describes Dr. Hines-Gaither as “one of the most insightful and good souls on campus.”

Doesn’t it seem suspicious that after all the turmoil at Salem, an African-American faculty member at a traditionally white institution like Salem College is the only one to lose her job? How can that be part of the solution?

The petition on Dr. Hines-Gaither’s behalf currently has over 400 signatures. The petition describes the work that Dr. Hines-Gaither did at Salem. It appears that Hines-Gaither was a trusted ally of the students that lead the sit-in at Salem. And that here termination from the Office of Diversity and Inclusiveness was a hypocritical move on the part of Salem’s administration.

While claiming to be in the process of increasing the role of diversity and inclusiveness at Salem, the administration is looking to silence Dr. Hines-Gaither. They’re working to marginalize the activists at Salem who made headlines agitating for better services and better treatment. President Sterritt should reinstate Dr. Hines-Gaither immediately, if she doesn’t Dr. Sterritt is likely to feel pressure from Salem’s students to step down.

Salem College’s administration understandably doesn’t want to see Salem getting a bad name in the media. They would prefer a docile student body that doesn’t challenge them. But Salem College’s administration needs to respect their student body. Salem’s administration should be working for its students, not against them. They owe it to them to work in good faith to resolve festering issues at Salem.

Removing Dr. Hines-Gaither from her position at the Office of Diversity and Inclusiveness was a huge mistake. It will only continue to enrage students at Salem and give them all summer to strategize and mobilize against Salem College’s out of touch administration in the fall.

I will be following Salem Sits on Facebook for further updates. I have a feeling that the battle for Salem College is a long way from being over.


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