The profession is changing and OCOM is in the middle of the moment. Since the events of the summer of 2020, conversations at the national and local level continue to shine a renewed  spotlight on social justice issues and equity. The Board of Trustees, Executive Leadership and groups of faculty and students have gathered to hear feedback from BIPOC and other students regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We launched a survey to assess community opinions on a name change for the college to replace the word “Oriental.” The results show a majority of the wider OCOM community is ready for a change, with no clear path forward on an alternative name. Choosing wisely is an opportunity for OCOM to create a shared desired future and reflect that to the wider community.

So what will it take to change a name? While focus groups and survey respondents show there are greatly differing views of the term “Oriental” ranging from positive cultural affinity to no opinion to finding it offensive, those differences are most pronounced between generations and countries of origin. Responding individuals raised in the US are most vocal about the need for a change, and it is clear that significant representation of OCOM constituents (staff, faculty, students and alumni) are deeply troubled by the College retaining a name with the term Oriental, as they view it as a racial slur; but that view is not shared by all, including many faculty and students from cultures originating in Asia. The Board of Trustees saw the survey data  that show now a majority of the wider OCOM community want a name change and at the request of the president voted to approve changing the college name. Yet this commitment is just the beginning of the process.

This mindful effort at the college, a thoughtful rename/rebranding as part of a wider DEI focus, will unfold as part of the next five-year strategic plan, which we anticipate to take six months or longer to develop and implement. Plan development will include new rounds of surveys and focus groups with the community to narrow and ultimately choose a new name and branding path for the college. Changes of this scale take time to fully implement, but the direction is clear, that we as a profession need to be grounded in different terminology, which is a direct response to needs expressed by Asian American students, alumni, faculty, and allies.

Action Steps and Timeline

July 22, 2020

  • OCOM Board of Trustees vote to change OCOM name
December 2020 to present
  • OCOM development committee looking for capacity building grants to hire a full-time DEI officer
August 2020 to present
  • President Sherri Green negotiating collaborative work with Yuko Uchikawa with Open Talk about facilitated open campus work around secondary trauma, restorative justice, and mediation training
  • President Green met with various campus groups to discuss and gather buy-in to move forward with a strategic plan focused on DEI at OCOM
January-February 2021
  • Secured a DEI support donation from trustee Michell Hay and CHP Group 
    • Talked with various groups on campus about a pilot for some of the DEI work with trainer/consultant

March-April 2021

  • Board reviewing proposals for renaming process and budget.
  • Deeper dive in April with consultant and trustees to decide how to proceed on Delphi and renaming/rebranding
  • Seeking intersectional group of OCOM community members to pilot certain skills and processes and build community-wide training
January 2021-October 2021
  • Implement DEI projects funded through CHP grant 
    • Scholarship program
    • Community engagement