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After its DEI officer resigned in protest, Connecticut College president urged to resign

Plant (left) and Branford (right) Houses on the campus of Connecticut College, New London, Connecticut.
Beyond My Ken
/
Wikimedia Commons
Plant (left) and Branford (right) Houses on the campus of Connecticut College, New London, Connecticut.

Connecticut College students have called for President Katherine Bergeron to resign over the school’s choice of venue for a fundraiser in Florida.

Last week, Dr. Rodmon Cedric King, the school’s Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion, resigned in protest and the fundraiser was canceled at the Everglades Club in Palm Beach, which has been long accused of racism and antisemitism.

Undergraduate student Sam Maidenberg said the college’s reputation with diversity and inclusion staff isn’t what it should be.

“In my time, three or four years at Conn., he’s the third person to have come and go from this position,” said Maidenberg, who serves as co-editor in chief at the student newspaper, The College Voice. “So there clearly is a disconnect between the higher administration and the DIEI office. And that position has just been on a constant revolving door.”

The story was first reported by Connecticut College student Terell Wright, who writes for The Day, on Feb. 8. Dozens of students gathered that week to discuss King’s sudden resignation and to protest the college’s leadership.

Bergeron responded to King’s departure by sending an apology to the college community.

“I regret our decision to schedule an event at a location whose history and reputation suggest otherwise,” she wrote dated Feb. 8. “We made that decision believing that our values were clear. But the decision to proceed came across differently, and we recognize now that we were wrong.”

The schools Board of Trustees have also promised to undertake an independent review of the school’s diversity, equity and inclusion commitments. “Like the nation, our campus and extended Conn. community must grapple with the ways in which race exists as a line that too often divides or separates rather than expands understanding,” Board chair Debo Adegbile wrote in response to King’s departure. “Making Conn College a better community for all is essential.”

Students, including Catja Christensen, want a timeline to be provided.

“This wasn’t just an isolated incident. It’s just like the most recent event in a long series of, just, frustrations,” said Christensen, who is also co-editor of The College Voice. “And so yeah it’s been — it’s really just taken over our lives as students and as reporters here we’re trying to find the most credible information and report it as quickly and as accurately as we can.”

Meanwhile, a letter, signed by King to the Board of Trustees, has been circulated at the school, citing Bergeron as a bully and asking the board to review her position with the college.

“Over the past year, I have witnessed President Bergeron yell at, denigrate, talk over, and silence my colleagues during Cabinet meetings,” King wrote. “These bullying behaviors are clearly violations of the basic respect that should be afforded any professional.”

Bergeron has denied requests for an interview with WSHU. The college has said it does not comment on personnel issues.

The story has been updated.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.