Today I'm joined by Marie Bigham, founder and co-leader of ACCEPT Group, or Admissions Community Cultivating Equity & Peace Today. Marie has spent over 20 years in college admissions, most recently at an independent school in New Orleans, and serves full-time as ACCEPT Group's leader. ACCEPT coordinates support for equitable college admissions, such as staging walkouts and organizing like-minded voices for change.
In this podcast, Marie and I discuss the actions we can take to radicalize the college admissions process in an era of uncertainty. The horrific actions of the past few months, from the growth of a global pandemic to yet another murder of a person of color by the police, George Floyd, has led way to some glimmers of hope in organizing, protest, and growth as a society. What actions can K-college educators take to build an equitable higher education experience, when revolution seems more and more tangible?
Marie Bigham, former college admissions counselor and co-leader and founder of the ACCEPT Group (Admissions Community Cultivating Equity & Peace Today.)
Chris McNutt: Hello, before we get started, I wanted to let you know that this podcast is brought to you by Human Restoration Project's fantastic patrons. All of our work, which includes free resources, materials, and this podcast are available for free due to our Patreon supporters, three of whom are Erin Dowd, Ray O'Brien, and Paul Kim. Thank you for your ongoing support. You can learn more about the Human Restoration Project on our website, humanrestorationproject.org, or find us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Hello and welcome to episode 72 of our podcast at Human Restoration Project. My name is Chris McNutt and I'm a high school digital media instructor from Ohio. Today, I am joined by Marie Bingham, founder and co-leader of Accept Group, or Admissions Community Cultivating Equity and Peace Today. Marie has spent over 20 years in college admissions, most recently at an independent school in New Orleans, and serves full time as Accept Group's leader. Accept coordinates support for equitable college admissions, such as staging walkouts or organizing like-minded voices for change. In this podcast, Marie and I discuss the actions that we can take to radicalize the college admissions process in an era of uncertainty. The horrific actions of the past few months, from the growth of a global pandemic to yet another murder of a person of color by the police, George Floyd, has led its way to some glimmers of hope in organizing protests and growth as a society. What actions can K-through college educators take to build an equitable higher education experience when revolution seems more and more tangible? Marie, I've invited you on at a time that in many ways is quite dismal. There's a global pandemic. There's yet another murder, an innocent person of color who was murdered by police. However, there is this like radical and revolutionary hope, and it does feel a little bit different. People are banding together. There are changes being made, at least initial inklings of change. And I think that we have an opportunity to make changes, educators, even though I am a little bit held back by this idea that maybe we're not pushing hard enough. I was listening to Dr. Cornel West, I think he was on CNN, I want to say, and he was talking about how our system can't adjust to change. In many ways, it seems like despite all these protests, despite all these things going on, the system isn't really changing as quickly as you think it would with how many people are out there demanding change. But with that being said, I do want to talk about college admissions inequity, about what your organization does, how it's shaped by what's happening with COVID and with Black Lives Matter, and how your organization is advancing equity. So let's start off with just talking about what ACCEPT does, who you are, and just kind of give us some context to your organization.
Marie Bingham: Thanks for having me. I really appreciate this. I love, you know, we got to meet each other on Twitter, and all the information you share is so aligned with ours, but so thoughtful, and again, that radical hopeful, so I really appreciate that. ACCEPT is a Facebook-based social justice group that's focused on college admissions reform. Our mission statement is that ACCEPT centers admissions professionals who seek to focus on anti-racism in our work and our personal lives and our community. And we started almost four years ago in response, like truly, it was my angry, sad, I don't know what to do response to the shootings at El Centro Community College in Dallas. To back that up just a touch, I am from St. Louis. I live in New Orleans now, very privileged to be able to live here, but I'm from St. Louis and watched Michael Brown's murder unfold in real time on Twitter, and that completely changed my life and how I view, how I walk the world. I've worked in college admissions in one way or another since 1997, so a long time, and I always believed in my heart and the work that I did that one of the noble things about college admissions is that more people of color, more women who get the opportunity to go to college leads to greater opportunity. I didn't really have a focus, I mean, that was a goal, but I didn't understand that really until Michael Brown's murder, and I became close with the protesters via social media, and I found myself as a person in my 40s working with these protesters who were the age of the students I was working with. And I found that the skillset that I used with my students to help them find college were the same skills that I could use to be helpful for protesters because they were the same age, and I became close with them that way, but that really just shifted how I wanted to live and how I wanted to do my work. It started in 2016, the night of the shootings in Dallas, and it hit me in the gut because for two years, we'd been really battling just this outrageous public spate of these police killings that were becoming noticed. The summers of 14 and 15, 16 were just dreadful that way. This happened though at a community college, this happened on our territory as college admissions people, those were ours. And having lived in Dallas, I knew that that campus where that all occurred is a community college, that's location was where all of the public transportation in the city came to a compliment. So people who didn't have transportation could go there easily. The average age was much higher, many ESLs, many students who were trying to gain citizenship. And so for them to have college taken away from them for five, six months because it was an FBI scene, seemed to really, really problematic with just growing in equity. And so I started in the middle of the night, this Facebook group that, pardon my language, was originally called admissions people sick of this shit. I really truly thought that except it's going to be a little corner of the internet where maybe 40 or 50 friends could get together and lament and support when the world went back. And we are now about 6,400 members. Facebook says we have some of the highest active engagement of any of the 15 million groups out there. Even when times are really hard like this, our engagement stays very, very high. Our members want to dive in and talk about these things and try to find action and hold each other accountable. So the last four years, we've done things like hand out almost 35,000 Black Lives Matter wristbands to high school students and college students around the country. We have pushed for actionable changes in this process, that process of admissions to start to remove some of the inequities in it. We've held our different professional associations accountable by saying you need to hear the voices of people of color. We need more professional, we need more conversation, we need more space. In college admissions, sadly, not unreflective of many industries, the further you climb up the ladder in admissions, the wider and mailer it gets. And we know in the space of college admissions, most people leave at three years, and if you make it past three years, you last 30 is our joy. But the people who leave at two and three years are people of color because they feel so slighted, they've unheard, mistreated, passed over. So kind of tackling a whole lot of things, but really the goal is how do we fix, how do we reform this system, how do we burn it to the ground and rebuild it? I was thinking about this in terms of watching criminal justice conversations right now, the question of do we reform or do we seek abolition with criminal justice right now? And I think about that with college admissions. We created a system, we built this system. It's not like it popped out of Zeus's forehead, like Athena. We built this, and so we have to acknowledge that college admissions, like many things in this country, was built on anti-blackness, was built on keeping people out, people like me, people of color, women. And so when we reform what's poisoned, how do we tear it down and rebuild?
CM: I really like that perspective and analogy to police reform because it makes me think of that study that was relatively recent, I can put in the show notes, where students who didn't take the SAT and ACT, they went to college, there were more students of color that were admitted, and they all graduated at greater rates than before the, I guess, the abolition of the testing industry in the College Board. And now we're seeing with COVID that there are hundreds of schools going test optional. And I think to myself, if all these kids end up graduating college, why did we put so many barriers in place for them to get there if it ultimately didn't matter in the first place?
MB: A million percent with you. I think that's one of the things that COVID has done structurally and societally worldwide is it's stripped away what is necessary and shown as like what is what we used to call necessary and what's actually necessary now. And I think we see a lot in education, especially in college admissions. First it was, hey, we're going to be flexible with your grades because we know that the times are weird right now. And then it was, hey, we're going to be really flexible with what you're doing with extracurriculars. All this is real. It's good. Right. And then, hey, we're going to be flexible with testing because, you know, College Board and ACT are such a disaster right now, but it does beg the question if you can be flexible with all of those things, what was necessary? What barriers were we placing just for the joy of it? Like what's the purpose? And we know, we know that a lot of those pieces in college admissions are, are barriers again to keep marginalized people out. I always use the college interview as an example of this, you know, interviews started getting added when the IVs were being pushed to admit more Jewish people. And so essays and interviews were added because it was the way of gauging character and people like us and that coded language. Right. So, okay. In theory, colleges have gotten over that and work past their antisemitism. Maybe not. I say maybe not. But why are those pieces still in place then? Why are those pieces still in place? I think about the most obnoxious essay question I've seen. I don't know if you remember the book, it came out like a business book a couple of years ago, Who Moved My Cheese? You know, and it was right. There was a college that the essay question was, oh, this famous book, Who Moved My Cheese? What's your favorite cheese and why and how does that cheese describe you? And I remember working with a young woman who said, and I love this, and she said, I only know of two types of cheese, yellow and government. And I'm pretty sure that that's not what they're looking for. What were they expecting people to say and what was that? So, yeah, I think that's one of the positive things that have come with COVID. It's stripped away these systems and broken it down to what is necessary. And I think we're there with college admissions, what exactly is necessary?
CM: Yeah. And it's also exposing the corporatism of it. I keep railing against the college board because I don't understand why it exists. It's a billion dollar company, which is absurd to me to think that the entire, yes, a nonprofit, quote unquote, that basically is dictating a vast majority of students' admittance to higher education, despite not being, they're not a government program like that. There's no one. There's no oversight. They are their own oversight.
MB: I would push it even further. Not only do they set the bar for college admissions, but because of the AP curriculum, because of AP credit and the contract that college board ACT has with states to use their test as the graduating test, they control seven through 12 education as well. It's horrifying because who are they?
CM: And they have a track record of not just now. I mean, there's a lot being brought to light right now with SAT, ACT and AP testing being online, which is a joke. But anyone who has ever taught an AP class knows how regulated it is, how stringent it is, how white it is, the curriculum, especially in history. I taught AP history is a nightmare because you can't, there's no way to get away from that curriculum in an AP class without sacrificing test scores, sadly, to the point where many schools are just ditching AP altogether and rather just do things like dual enrollment classes or just offering college credit, which I think that there should be an option for you. But if your option is only AP testing, well, and there's a there's a track rate of decades of issues with the college board doing inequitable actions. So what is ACCEPT Group's long term goal when it comes to college admissions and ensuring there is an equitable future for all learners?
MB: I mean, my long term goal, I think for us is kind of lofty, but it's truly tearing down the system and rebuilding it so that we get back to higher ed as a public good. But I think a part of that recommitment to higher ed as public good is the acknowledgement that higher ed has been a public bad. It has hurt the public in many ways because of our practices. And I think, as I shouted at a conference about a year ago, we need educational reparations right now, especially in higher ed. And so as we rebuild this. Not only am I supporter of affirmative action, I think that we actually need to be far more intentional with affirmative action and say, hey, you've been stripped of educational opportunities all these years. We're going to give you a different opportunity now and fund it. I think we should dismantle this system and really rebuild it. I mean, that's a radical one, but I mean that really sincerely. I would love to see, personally, a system where the student and the college worked immediately together. They didn't need a mediator, a college counselor like I used to be, right? Because that is a privilege that these steps that we require won't matter anymore. That we get back to the idea that if college admissions is about recognizing your potential and helping you live up to it, then we have to do this completely differently.
CM: I mean, I'm with you. So you have these beliefs and as a college admissions counselor yourself, as well as the people that are in your Facebook group and within your organization, how do you then work with students to relay that information? So to kind of preface that, I talk to students all the time about progressive alternatives to school, the fact that you don't need to go to the public state school, but in my view, at least 80% of students that go to school in central Ohio are like, I'm going to go to OSU. And if I don't go to OSU, I'll go to one of the other schools. So how do you kind of coach students through this process? Because I don't think many are familiar with what it is that we're talking about.
MB: For sure, for sure. And I have to acknowledge too, that I come from a workplace that is extremely privileged. I worked, when I worked in college, admissions out of college, I worked for Washington Union St. Louis, my alma mater, which is extremely wealthy and can do pretty much whatever they want. And we did that. There were no restrictions to what we could do to recruit. We didn't do a great job all the time, especially with students of color, but we didn't have to hustle as hard. And the four high schools that I worked in after I left college admissions have all been independent schools. I left that, by the way, a year ago to only focus on running acceptable time and to get us launched as a nonprofit. But I've only worked in independent schools. It is deeply frustrating to me when I see all of the advantages that students I worked with had. It's part of the reason I had to leave it, right? In most public schools, students have a school counselor, and I know specifically a college counselor, a school counselor ratio of four or 500 to one. In independent schools, it's one to 50, one to 40. So I tried as often as I could to take advantage of that privileged space and the students with whom I would work and just slide in like real talk. For example, a lot of the students here in New Orleans at my school were very interested in University of Mississippi and would refer to it as Ole Miss. And every time I would reply right back with University of Mississippi and students or parents were like, why aren't you calling it, I'm like, well, let's talk about plantation language. Let's talk about how Ole Miss became nicknamed that way and what that means and how that fits into their history. And if someone would do something with that information, cool, but I would want them to know that about that, right? Just pick apart those things. Whenever I would talk with families, big presentations about standardized testing at my school, I would always slide in the tremendous privilege they had because of their access to test prep, curriculum, all of those things that their scores did not mean they were better. It meant they had more opportunities and privilege. So I would try as much as I could in those personal interactions to move the needle that way. Because I think those, like you were saying with your classes, those things are as important as saying to college board, fix your tests, right? And I think this age cohort, especially as we're seeing with these protests, they're so much more interested in engaging and caring and taking these things apart that for a lot of those students, when I would talk with them about, this is why this university is named this way, they would pull back and be like, oh, oh no, I don't want to be a part of that. I don't want to do that anymore. And they just need someone to nudge them in that direction. So those are the little things I would always try and still try.
CM: I think there's too that the obligation of the teacher, the educator in the classroom being familiar with all these different things, because sadly, as you just said, guidance counselors can't always be there for students. I love our school's guidance counselor. She's amazing. But she is in charge of 400 students. She is the guidance counselor, college admissions counselor, and test prep coordinator, getting back to the SAT, ACT issue, which in most public schools, that's the case. And that's almost a full time job on its own. I don't think the majority of students are getting the coaching that they need in order to understand and navigate the college landscape. When I was in school, I didn't have any coaching. I just went to OSU because that's where everyone else went. And I never questioned it until I was at OSU, which OSU is an OK school, but I don't know if it would have been the best option. Are there suggestions that you have then for educators to help nudge students in a direction where they start thinking about college beyond just, I'm going to go to college for four years and that's kind of the end of it?
MB: Absolutely. I know there are some individual things that educators can do, and I want to acknowledge this as well. Public school counselors are really far too overloaded with the amount of work. They are miracle workers. I've, whenever I've gone and spoken at conferences in here, 15% of their time is spent on college. Knowing how intense and hard that work is for a small number, like holy God, you have so much other stuff. They have so much. So I don't ever want to disparage any of my colleagues in that space because they are asked to do the impossible and they do it. They do it really, really well too. And I want to acknowledge how many really awesome teachers all over fill in that space too. Informally. I hear those stories all the time and get lots of questions from classroom teachers who are like, I just want to know more about this. Right? So I just want to acknowledge that y'all have been filling in for us for a long time. I think there's some really excellent resources that you can go to, you know, as much as I dislike College Board, their website, Big Future is really helpful. Those like that are really good. There are great websites like unigo.com, which does online tours that are really thoughtful and engaging. I think those are really good resources. Anytime a teacher can have a conversation with a student to say, what do you want your future to look like? Like, what do you hope it looks like? And I actually think high school teachers might even be in a better position to ask those questions than counselors. One of the first questions I ask students when I work with them is, tell me about your favorite classroom experience and what made it so good. And so if a student said to me, oh, it was small, it was intimate, we had a lot of one-on-one conversations, then I would say, well, I don't know if a place like OSU is going to work for you. Right? Because you thrive in that. Or if a student says, oh my gosh, I hate all this one-on-one, I just want to sit in the back of the room quietly and have no one bother me, just do my work. Cool. Then maybe that setting is better for you. So I think you all are actually in a better position in many ways to talk with your students about that. And I think just engaging in the conversation and asking, what do you want your future to look like in your perfect world? What problems do you like to solve when your mind is wandering and you think about something you want to fix? What's that thing you want to fix? I think those questions are more tangible to high school students than what do you want to major in? What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? So I think for teachers just engaging in those conversations and having resources on hand about the nitty-gritty of it, right, but I think students just need to be told and understand like the opportunities out there are way different than just what's in front of you. I think the opportunity is in front of you over Beth, right? Like for some students, their public in-states will be the most affordable option, or if they want to save those, like that's okay. You can find really great things. Brand name of college doesn't equate better, and frankly, in some cases I would stay away from because of that. So I think you all are actually in a really fantastic position to engage with students in this and engage with them critically, right? Like one of my very favorite history teachers when I worked at a school in California said, all right, let's talk about the name of the college, Washington and Lee. What does that mean to have an institution called Washington and Lee? What is that message does that send? Teachers can ask those questions and they should.
CM: And to build off that point, and you're kind of hinting at it, this is a big ask for teachers as well, but I think it's something that's needed. How do you then communicate the issues of equity when it comes to college admissions in terms of, I mean, many of us are teaching students, maybe the majority of our students who can't afford to go to college, and they're being told at many points you need to go to college, that that is the prevailing narrative in order to be successful. And then there's also this narrative, and this might be too big of a question, but there's also this narrative of you go to college to escape your community, which to me is very harmful language because what is that saying about where you live and what your goals are? So how do you communicate to students that either are in a position where it's difficult for them to go to college or even students that it is easy for them to go, but then they look at their peers in a way that it's like diminishing?
MB: For sure. My biggest pie in the sky dream of fixing education in this country is if we actually had policies set up to support the idea that learning is lifelong, that we got policies that psychologists had to have a graduation rate at this X number of years, things like that, because in theory, one should be learning their whole lives, right, but also those very issues that you're talking about, I can't afford it right now, I don't know what I want to do, opportunity isn't there. My husband, who is a very well-paid computer tech, has flunked out of three colleges, and if he went at a later point in his life, he would have been far better prepared and more mature for it. He was lucky he didn't have student loans or anything, but for students who do, you drop out like that, you're suddenly paying it back, and then you really can't get back in. So I think so much of what you're saying is, how do we affirm students? How do we tell them the choices you make now aren't the only choice you will make about your education, that there are other opportunities that come along, that your choices are valid, that having the bumper sticker isn't the most important thing? I think those things are really, really important to do. And that's a big question, how do we chip away at that? When everything in society, including pay, is telling you, you have to have this credential. How do you have that credential if it's so hard to attain and so expensive to attain, or frankly, if it's not designed for you? I think just reminding students that it's okay to feel that way, that those feelings are valid, that they will still have opportunities if you don't step into this higher ed space at 18, it will actually be there at 30. It isn't just you go from 18 to 22 and go to a football game and join a Greek organization. That's not what it is for the vast majority of people in this country. So I think a lot of what teachers can do is just to chip away at their stereotypes and affirm students and say, you don't have to do that. I also say this, and this is a point where I'm going to acknowledge the privilege from which I've typically come in this. I get really annoyed when I see schools celebrate where the kids are going, the IVs, the this like, ooh, this is the biggest deal, and then students who don't have those brand names aren't just celebrate and fight it as much. The message is that is what's important. That is the sign of your ability or your potential or what your future is going to be, and we know that getting in those places is not about that. So I would love it if schools would quit focusing on celebrating the way students are going and just that they are making choices about their future.
CM: I hope you're enjoying our podcast so far. If you like what you hear and want to dive deeper into progressive education, I highly encourage you to visit us at humanrestorationproject.org. There you'll find a range of free materials, research, writings, and more to help transform schools towards human centered practices. Plus, you'll find ways to support us through donations, a Patreon subscription, and merchandise. We appreciate your support. Now back to the podcast. Thank you again for listening to Human Restoration Project. Thank you again for listening to Human Restoration Project's podcast. I hope this conversation leads you inspired and ready to push the progressive envelope of education. You can learn more about progressive education, support our cause, and stay tuned to this podcast and other updates on our website at humanrestorationproject.org. For this next question, this might be opening like a giant can of worms. In a second, I want to get into what ACCEPT Group is doing right now to assist students. In the work of college admissions, the majority of students that are going to college are sadly not successful in college either. I was just reading about ... I was reading The Privileged Poor, which I can't think of the name of the author right now. Anthony Jack. Anthony Jack. That book, if someone listening is not familiar, is about students who grow up in environments that typically students are not going to college within. They get to college and then they recognize just how different perspectives are at the college level about people that grow up poor, go to different schools, all these different things. Sadly, many students that end up going to college and are kind of pushed into that college environment from poorer communities are not successful at alarming rates in comparison to students that sadly overall aren't very successful at the college rates. How does a college admissions counselor or just teachers, how do they ... I'm trying to think of a good way to word this, but how do they coach students through recognizing that it's not just enough just to get into college? There's a lot more to it.
MB: Yeah. That it's staying, right? I think for students of privilege, white kids who come from college-going culture, it's far harder to get into a place than it is to stay in. You go through the gauntlet of getting in and then you get to college and for the most part, if you're a kid of wealth, often we see parents don't like what the grades are. They just see that if you walk across the stage in five or six years, it's okay. It's the kids who have high need where those grades matter far more because funding is tied to it, right? Then also those are kids who did not grow up on a college campus like I did, for example. You don't know the culture of that, and so I think this is actually a two-way street. On one hand, we college counselors, we educators need to do a better job at preparing students to say when you get to college, here are the things that change. I had a former colleague describe it this way, and I thought it was fantastic where she said, when you're in high school, you're there to be taught, but when you go to college, you are there to learn. It's just the shift of responsibility, right? I don't know if I agree with that philosophy and how that shifts when you get to higher ed. I'm going to give you a little more touch, but I think that we don't prepare students for that shift of responsibility in any way, shape, or form, like in any level of secondary school and college. I think that's something that we need to do a better job of doing. Things like, hey, office hours mean that you just go by and say hi or you ask questions or sit in the front so the faculty knows you, or what are those culture of higher ed things that those of us who are in it all the time just take for granted is the language we speak? We need to do a better job of teaching students. I actually think that the onus is much more on the colleges. They need to fix their cultures of who belongs and what that is, that it's on them. We hear this from faculty of color. We hear this from alumni of color, that those graduation rates aren't great because of their funding models of how they fund students and how inequitable that is. The gaps that they give to kids with high need, the assumption that you can work 20 hours of work study a week, okay, no one else is being asked to work a part-time job and maintain a three-five for your scholarship, right? We've got to make those kids not feel comfortable in the culture, but fix the culture so that anyone feels comfortable in it, not just demand that people change who they are to fit in, but for the institutions to change their culture of what it is to fit in. I think that's really important, but that to me is on the colleges. That's them. They opened their doors for us, but fairly, and so it's up to them to become the places that are more welcoming. My last point with this is I would strongly encourage all of us to rethink the definition of success in higher ed, and this goes back to my idea that I think, you know, let's change policy so that education really is lifelong, right? We think of success as graduation rate in a short amount of time, but we don't take for granted that life happens. You don't take for granted that most students aren't 18 to 21 or 22, and so we have these structures that say students have to graduate in this time. If not, that's not successful, but if you just need to take some time off, what if you change your mind? What if you don't win in school at that moment? I think changing that lens of success, but without taking accountability away could be one of those ways that we could change this conversation.
CM: And kind of building into then our final question, which is then how does your organization fit into all of this? We've kind of gotten into like some theoreticals. So what is Accept Group doing right now in order to further your cause?
MB: Sure. And the thing is with Accept is as an organization that's based in this profession and to join our group or anything like that, you have to be someone who is professionally engaged with college admissions, someone who might be in a high school or college, but also test prep or advising or any of the other, I was going to say seats at the table, which is what I typically use, but to go back to all your point of view, anyone in the college admissions industrial complex, because it's a gazillion dollar business, right? Because we are focused on us, a lot of times our work is not specifically student facing or rather professional facing. And then the idea is that professionals take that to their students, right? So we don't do as much directly with students. That said, because of COVID, we're shifting a lot and things that we would do a lot of times in person with our members like meetups and things like that, it's all shifting to online. So we are currently preparing a series of webinars that are going to be specifically focused on black students and black families. And what does it, what are the special considerations as a family of color going through this process and going through it right now? Like we think that's a really important conversation to have. And one, I think many of our members have always kind of had along the sidelines, right? But you need to like form that language and get it better. So we're starting that series of student facing conversations of how to go through this search and process while maintaining your safety and your identity, being those things intact. Because there are some places that don't do a good job with that, others that do. But a lot of our work is really about developing the profession. And our model of change has always been if you change the hearts and minds of an individual, they go to their offices, they spread that, right? You change the minds of office and then you get different institutions, like enough institutions are all going to make systematic change. That's kind of the model. So one of the things that we are doing now, I'm looking at my giant wall calendars, again, webinars, who doesn't love them? We're starting a bunch of webinars that first is going to be about personal identity and we're calling those Time for the Hard Work. We do a lot with it, except where we talk about the big systems and the structures, but we haven't done as good of a job at saying, what are my biases? What do I bring to the table? We talk, but we haven't really done the hard work. So we're going to start a series of webinars for folks that are going to do the hard work. Starting another series after that, that's called, it's a terrible name, but I'm trying to think of something better, Admissionzing While POC. It started as we wanted to do a conversation of driving while black and what happens when you are out there on the road as an admissions person and something happens. But that has expanded as the group has, the planning committee for that has talked and we're going to do a series that's three or four of them will be, so you're a person of color working in college admissions in one of these roles and here's how it's different. And here's how you advocate for yourself, for your colleagues, and here's how we mentor each other. So we're doing that series, but we're finishing that series with white supervisors, this one's for you. And again, we know in admissions that once you get to the top in that supervisory role, the chances that you are white and male are dramatically higher. So we're doing those, I'm looking again at my wall. One project that we engaged with this year that was new for us is called Hack the Gates and Hack the Gates is a research to practice partnership with Colorado State. So the idea for Hack the Gates is if we're going to dismantle this, we need to get all these different voices who never talk, researchers, fellow policy people, practitioners, the supervisor, things like that. So it's like convening, we've had a lot of conversations and in August, early August, we're releasing eight position papers written by some of the best, brightest young scholars out there, all people of color, all pre-tenure, all brilliant, and we're really seeing eight different position papers that say, here's what we see as inequity in the system, here's some radical ways to chop it apart, and then we as a sub come in and say, and here's how you put that into practice. So over the next couple of months, we're taking that model of you change the individual, you change your office, then you change the system and putting that into place through some professional development and learning online and trying to continue to maintain the conversation that way. But yeah, not as much of the student facing stuff, but I'm excited about what we're going to start doing with students that way.
CM: The work is fantastic, Marina. I really appreciate you coming on and talking about it because it's really cool and I see a lot of what we do and what you do, so it's cool to have like this cool conversation and I appreciate you coming on the podcast and talking about it.
MB: This work and doing this has been by far the most fulfilling thing I've done personally, professionally, anything. And I worked in Democrat politics and worked in PR before, and so I saw like the power of movement and organizing. But when I see what we have done as an organization and the structural changes that have occurred in the admissions process because of our advocacy and screaming sometimes, but the real changes that have occurred in our process and in the profession because of it, I am so heartened and so excited. And what I'm going to put out there to the podcast is we were just random people who needed a place to hug in the middle of the night, right? People can make change. We see this on the streets happening right now. We're in that point of flux, right? Like we're the tipping point. And so I don't want anyone out there to feel like they're stuck in a silo that, oh, I am a teacher. And so this is what I do. And someone else has to do that stuff and I can't step out of my box. You and I, we're successful at this, Chris, because we stepped out of our box and we took that risk and said, I know my space and I know this enough to be able to make a change. And so I just want to encourage anyone right now, if you're feeling compelled, you don't have to be an expert, you don't have to start a small business or you should learn, but people can. You can step outside of your space and make a real change. You can use your sphere of influence to make even bigger changes even faster. And I'm going to encourage absolutely everybody to do that.
CM: Thank you again for listening to Human Restoration Project's podcast. I hope this conversation leaves you inspired and ready to push the progressive envelope of education. You can learn more about progressive education, support our cause and stay tuned to this podcast and other updates on our website at humanrestorationproject.org.