Poor Race Relations May Force St. Mary’s College to Lose Accreditation

St. Mary’s College may face sanctions by its accreditors for officials’ inaction amid racial tensions on campus, according to an article in the Contra Costra Times.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges had asked the bay area school to focus on improving race relations on its campus in 1990 and then again in 2004. The school’s lack of progress in nearly 20 years has caused the accrediting association to threaten the school with a loss of its accreditation if improvements are not made.

In a letter to Brother Ronald Gallagher, the president of the college, Ralph Wolff, the president and executive of WASC said, “After some two decades of discussion and planning … the commission is deeply concerned that there is so little evidence of tangible results. The matter now needs to be seen as urgent, requiring immediate attention and moving beyond words and future plans.”

While the report by WASC did not detail racial incidents, the association noted an “increasing and sustained lack of civility” on the campus. Campus surveys of the college’s 3,700 students exposed concerns over sexual and racial discrimination where just over half of the student body is White.

While St. Mary’s has done a good job of creating a diverse learning environment, it needs to do a better job of creating a non-discriminatory atmosphere for its student body, Wolff said. “The college has made a very strong statement in support of diversity. We just want to make sure their actions back that up.”

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