- Nigel Boyle, Professor of Political Studies at Pitzer College, Director of the Institute for Global-Local Action and Study, and lead and faculty liaison, Inside-Out Program for the Justice Education Initiative, The Claremont Colleges
- Cynthia Tampkins, Warden of the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC)
- Lori Pompa, Founder and Executive Director, Temple University Inside-Out Program
- Shannon Swain, Superintendent, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), Sacramento
- Melvin L. Oliver, President, Pitzer College
- Tyee Griffith, Program Manager for Justice Education Initiative, Pitzer College
- Barbara Junisbai, Associate Professor of Organizational Studies at Pitzer College
- Samuel Lee, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Norco College
- Admitted Students: Ronald, Reggie, Damien, Freddy, Daniel, Darren, Jeremy, Yusef
Nigel Boyle: Hello, my name is Nigel Boyle. I’m a professor at Pitzer College and I’m director of the Institute for Global-Local Action and Study, IGLAS, through which we have developed the first-ever BA program based on Inside-Out curriculum for incarcerated people. I’m pleased to welcome you to two small cities here in the Inland Empire of Southern California, home to eight institutions that have made this initiative possible; Claremont, home to Pitzer College, but also Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, and Scripps Colleges, the densest concentration of top liberal arts colleges in the country, and Norco, home to the California Rehabilitation Center, CRC, a level-two California men’s prison; within the prison the CRC adult school and adjacent to the prison, Norco College, part of the Riverside Community College system. This live-streamed webinar includes the group of eight students at CRC who comprise our BA cohort, and you can see on screen and you’ll hear from them shortly.
CRC, like all California prisons, has been badly stricken by COVID. The students will be observing masking protocols today. But I will note that in addition to being an academic cohort, they’re also housed together as a residential cohort in the college dorm at CRC, and they’ve all recently been tested negative for COVID. But I do want to thank the CRC staff for making this webinar possible despite very difficult circumstances.
The webinar will include the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Pitzer College, CRC Prison and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, CDCR in Sacramento. And most importantly, the webinar includes the distribution of Pitzer College admissions letters to the students. The webinar has a series of speakers who you can see on screen. These speakers and in particular, the sequence in which they will speak, is intended not just to acknowledge the institutions which have made this initiative possible, but also to explain the institutional, the ethical, and the curricular foundations on which the program is built, foundations which we believe to be both sustainable and replicable.
The notorious 1994 crime bill decimated higher education in prisons, with linkages between higher education and incarcerated people largely left to some brave volunteer programs. The largest such volunteer program, at least here in California, is Professor Renford Reese’s Prison Education Project, PEP. And it’s through PEP that I and others at Pitzer first started working at CRC back in 2012. From that day to this, we’ve enjoyed the great good fortune to be able to work with CRC Warden Cynthia Tampkins. At every step of the way, including when we ran into the COVID crisis, which threatened to wreck our entire curriculum until we figured out a way to do Inside-Out via video conferencing, but at every step of the way, we’d be able to count on Warden Tampkin’s support in overcoming the many obstacles that hinder college prison collaborations. Warden Tampkins is actually retiring next week after a 34-year career with CDCR. This BA program will be one of her legacies. And I now invite her to step forward to say a few words about the initiative. So, Warden Tampkins?
Cynthia Tampkins: Good morning, I’m Cynthia Tompkins, warden of this wonderful institution. And I am excited today about our launch. It’s a great day. We have been working on bringing a Bachelor’s of Arts degree program to CRC since 2016. And due to the hard work of Principal Weaver, and Director Boyle, we have finally seen our hard work come to fruition. I’m excited because we have developed a partnership with one of the top 100 colleges and today is truly an honor. Our BA program gives our men in blue a new start on life. Their education and BA degree enhance their ability to enter the workforce on a somewhat equal playing field. These men were selected because of their demonstration to fulfill their goals, to improve their learning skills, and just an overall ability to have a desire to be better and to do better than when they entered our prison gates. Although we’re starting with a small group of eight offenders, I see big things for CRC and Pitzer College. I am looking forward to us growing on a much grander scale, so that CRC and Pitzer College would help the reduction of our recidivism rate for our inmates. I wish our inmates well and I pray for their success. Again, thank you and welcome to CRC, and I am so excited about our partnership.
Nigel Boyle: Thank you, Warden Tampkins. To say a few words now about why education within prison needs to include BA programs, specifically, I’d like to invite Damien to speak to his experience as an incarcerated student. Damien?
Damien: Good afternoon. My name is Damien, and I’m honored to speak with you today, a day we can celebrate as a triumph for all who are involved with the processes of education for the incarcerated. I began my official college education as an inmate in 2005 when I began taking lower-division courses at a community college. I received my first associate’s degree in 2007. However, that was the highest level of education I could acquire. As people are discovering during the coronavirus outbreak, sitting around spinning your wheels with nowhere to go, can be taxing on the human psyche. I would eventually go on to earn six associate’s degrees, but I was never able to take any upper-division courses. I, however, continued on but needless to say, it was a frustrating situation. I’m not complaining about the opportunity to learn. But I was frustrated because the ability to advance and receive a bachelor’s degree was beyond my ability. I was spinning my wheels. Now we are entering the year 2021. And my cohort and I have been blessed with the outstanding opportunity to obtain what I thought was impossible, a bachelor’s degree behind bars. This is a face-to-face Inside-Out program, another impossible wish brought to life. We can interact with the professors and the students. And in doing so, we are given a sense of self-worth and humanity. The Pitzer Inside-Out program gives us the ability to grow an intellect, to achieve, and to accept responsibility for our actions. Pitzer, through its focus on environmental and social responsibility, allows us the opportunity to give back to the community. We will no longer be a burden to society, but we’ll actually add value to it. And that in itself can be a starting point to end the dismal cycle of mass incarceration. I thank Pitzer and those at the CRC and the California Department of Corrections for providing this amazing program. And I thank you all for listening.
Nigel Boyle: Thanks Damien. I once introduced Damien to two Claremont college presidents who were visiting CRC. And I was able to note with irony that Damien, with six associate’s degrees, actually had more degrees than these two presidents did combined.
The secret sauce in our BA program is Inside-Out pedagogy. Since 2014, we’ve taught almost 50 Inside-Out courses at CRC, courses in which Claremont faculty teach their normal contractually mandated courses but teach them at CRC, either physically or now virtually, with an equal number of incarcerated Inside students, and traditional Outside students. Since 2017, all of these courses have been credit-bearing, tuition-free for Inside students, thanks to a decision by the Pitzer College Board of Trustees. Inside-Out courses yield a phenomenal pedagogical quality attested to by faculty, by the Outside students and the Inside students. There are professors at the Claremont Colleges to do what they do best: teach courses of outstanding educational quality in a highly innovative way.
I’m delighted to be able to introduce our next speaker, Lori Pompa from Temple University, who is the founder and director of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. Lori has pioneered Inside-Out pedagogy and trained hundreds of professors around the world to use it, including 40 out here in Claremont, including me. Lori?
Lori Pompa: Good afternoon from Philadelphia. I am really grateful to have been invited to this launching. This is really very exciting. Let me just offer a few words about Inside-Out. The
Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program began as one class offered back in 1997. That included Temple University students and incarcerated men in a maximum-security jail in Philadelphia. They spent this semester together studying issues of crime and the administration of justice. And since then, Inside-Out
has grown amazingly into an international program, including 1100 instructors throughout the United States and 12 other countries. More than 50,000 students have taken part in Inside-Out classes over the years. Inside-Out is based on three foundational ideas. First, offering higher educational opportunities to men and women in prisons and jails; second, bringing people from the outside into correctional facilities. And it makes me think about a colleague who during his incarceration once said, there was a very large wall outside of the prison he was in and he said, “That wall isn’t there just to keep me in, but to keep you out,” which I found to be both an insightful and incisive statement. And third, creating a space for dialogue across difference, something that, as we all know, we are increasingly needing in our lives. All of this and much more happens through these Inside-Out experiences. The learning has many layers to it, certainly about the subject matter. But beyond that, we all learn new and important things about ourselves, about other people, about the assumptions that we all carry, about communication and working through conflict, and very importantly, about how we all can be change agents in the world. What you all have developed here at the Claremont Colleges is impressive, creative, and frankly, inspirational. It will serve as a model for others throughout our network to potentially build degree granting programs utilizing the Inside-Out pedagogy. Congratulations, we are really excited to see how this all unfolds.
Nigel Boyle: Thanks Lori. Now to say a few words about what Inside-Out pedagogy means for an incarcerated student, I invite Freddy to step forward to speak a little about his experience as an Inside student. Freddy?
Freddy: Good afternoon. My name is Freddy. Throughout my incarceration, I’ve taken many correspondence courses from various colleges. Now though my overall experience with distance learning is a positive one, I found something lacking. If I ever had a question, or if I had a problem I couldn’t solve, there was no one there to further instruct me. I (inaudible) to learn by myself from a textbook. A professor’s presence delivers an awareness that you as a student will be learning via their expertise. This is why I feel there isn’t a correspondence course that can measure up to Pitzer’s pedagogy. For example, one semester while attending Pitzer, I took a seminar on emotional development with Dr. Banerjee. Unbeknownst to the entire class, my mother had just passed away and I was suffering the most painful moment of my life. Deep down, I was in inner turmoil, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t even function. However, Dr. Banerjee began to teach on healing by focusing on the present moment through mindfulness breathing exercises. As I practiced them daily, I became able to focus on the pain and release the emotions I had bottled up inside. The new coping mechanism allowed me to grieve my mother’s passing. Practical instructions which focus on improving life issues are just one of the many facets which make Pitzer College stand apart from all the rest. Pitzer’s professors engage everyone by immersing their students in an inclusive learning atmosphere. We all get to share a classroom. This is special because it allows for academic discussions which take into account the extensive life experiences of the Inside students and unites them with a fresh point of view from the Outside students. For a moment, two worlds that seem so far apart, are joined together to grow and learn from one another. I believe Pitzer has also educated us on our new identity from a people who at one time took from the community, to a cohort who can now take the lead in finding opportunities to give back. I thank you all for your time and attention and to everyone who made this possible. God bless you.
Nigel Boyle: Cheers, Freddy. At this point, I’d like to ask President Melvin Oliver of Pitzer, CRC Warden Tampkins and CDCR Superintendent Shannon Swain to each sign the copy of the memorandum of understanding that will govern this BA program. If you could please go ahead and do that.
And with that, I would like to ask Superintendent Shannon Swain from CDCR in Sacramento to say a few words about this program from CDCR’s perspective. Shannon?
Shannon Swain: Hello. We all know that education is something that can never be taken away once somebody has it. Since 2014, when Senate Bill 1391 became law here in California, the reintroduction of face-to-face college has rapidly expanded to the point where now almost half of the more or less 16,000 students enrolled in community college and CDCR are able to participate face-to-face with college faculty able to come into the institutions to deliver their courses. A terrific example of this is Norco College, which has grown tremendously to serve incarcerated students at CRC. Nationally, there has been significant research and evaluation of correctional education, which has decisively concluded that correctional education is a great investment. In addition to changing hearts and minds of students, the critical thinking and life skills learned through higher education have proven to reduce recidivism. Higher education in prison is a fantastic investment providing long-term benefits that lead to healthier families and stronger communities. One thing I have heard when I have visited the accredited schools inside CDCR institutions, however, is “What now?” in some instances, incarcerated students are so hungry for higher education that they continue to take courses sometimes earning, as you heard earlier, numerous associate’s degrees. It has long been clear that our students need to be able to extend their learning path of AA to a bachelor’s degree.
There is currently what I like to call a rehabilitative revolution occurring inside California’s prison institutions. Education is a key component to successful community transition. The partnership between Pitzer College, Norco College and CDCR is one example of the great things that can happen when people pull together. Within CDCR, there has been incredible effort on the part of the enterprise information system folks, the technology department of our agency, my office, the Office of Correctional Education, the Division of Rehabilitative Programs, the Division of Adult Institutions, and the amazing, incredible CRC staff.
When a world pandemic caused CDCR to implement modified programming to reduce the spread of COVID back in March, the partners dedicated to make higher education and this collaboration with Pitzer College occur rapidly responded with some innovative solutions involving technology. This accomplishment has seen the introduction of live streamed classes. Pitzer provided electronic devices so that students could access the learning management system to continue their learning. CRC staff assisted by ensuring that students were able to convene in a socially distanced, sanitary and safe manner to continue their learning. I could not be prouder of the outstanding educators and correctional professionals who have joined together to make this all possible. Congratulations to our students, to Pitzer College, to the CRC staff, and to the Norco staff who have made this incredible collaboration occur. Thank you.
Nigel Boyle: Thank you, Shannon. And mentioning one of those outstanding educators, at this point, I’d like to ask Michael Weaver who’s the president, sorry, he’s the principal of the adult school at CRC. By the way, the adult school at CRC was recently recognized as a California Distinguished School. Mr. Weaver, along with his staff, have been fantastic partners for Pitzer. And so I’d like to ask Mr. Weaver to hand the admissions letters to the students as I call a call them up by name. So in alphabetical order [by surname], Ronald, Reggie, Damien, Freddy, Daniel, Darren, Jeremy and Yusef.
I’ll now ask President Melvin Oliver, sixth president of Pitzer College and a renowned scholar on racial inequality, to formally welcome our latest cohort of Pitzer students to the college. Melvin?
President Melvin Oliver: Thank you, Nigel. On behalf of the Pitzer College Board of Trustees, the college’s administration, faculty, staff, and your fellow students, I am pleased to officially welcome our newest students to the Pitzer community. Congratulations on your admission to Pitzer College. I welcome you on an incredible journey of transformative education, one taken by the likes of Frederick Douglass in the midst of slavery, and Malcolm X from the confines of prison and urban racism. This is a transformation that will not only impact your lives, it will set an example and leave a legacy for others that will follow. You have the opportunity as a Pitzer student to develop the most valuable thing you will take with you from this journey; the ability to walk upright and see clearly, to see not only for yourself and by yourself, but also to see by, through and with the eyes of others. Seeing from different points of view is vital in a society that increasingly tries to tell us that there is only one way to see, and one way to be; that there is only one kind of patriotism, one kind of family, one kind of religion, one kind of sexuality and one kind of politics. Your teachers at Pitzer College will teach you to think critically and independently, and to form your own philosophy and perspective on life. We want you to be lifelong learners, critical thinkers, and creative problem solvers, to be individuals who can think by yourselves and for yourselves. But you also need the resolve to see, the courage to see, the determination to see. By joining this journey you have dedicated yourself to an intense period in which your intellectual curiosity will be used to face up to challenges, challenges that your world has and will present to you, and to stand upright as a citizen of a global society. That is your challenge. Pitzer is here to partner with you to meet that challenge, and I know you will. My best wishes to you for the great Pitzer experience.
Nigel Boyle: Thanks, Melvin. I would now like to ask Pitzer student Yusef, class of 2021, to say a few words about what it means to him to be a matriculated Pitzer student. Yusef?
Yusef: Good afternoon everyone. I hope we’re all having aa good a time as I’m having. My name is Yusef. And when I was 10 years old, my older brother was 24 and he was working as a custodian at one of the prestigious Claremont Colleges. I remember that my mother was so excited just to know that he will be in that environment. She was convinced that he would start off as a custodian, eventually enroll in some classes, and ultimately earn his degree. Now I’m not sure if this has something to do with the fact that the movie “Good Will Hunting” had come out around that same time, or whether this was just an example of the willful optimism that a mother has with her child, but whatever the case, my brother ended up losing that job as a custodian, just a few short months after he was hired. Five years after that, my brother was shot and killed right in front of my face. My mother took it very hard. All she wanted was for my brother to have an opportunity to graduate from college. And the closest he came was being a custodian at Harvey Mudd.
Now I stand here before you, one of the first currently incarcerated yet fully matriculated students on track to earn a bachelor’s degree from Pitzer College. When someone asks me what it means to be a Pitzer student, I could go on and on about the importance of social justice issues and environmental sensitivity. But for me, well, being a Pitzer student means opportunities, both new opportunities that I had never imagined for myself, as well as recovered opportunities that I thought were long lost. But most importantly, being a Pitzer student for me means having the opportunity to make a significant achievement in honor of my late brother and also doing something that will make my mother extremely proud. So I thank you all for this. Thank you.
Nigel Boyle: Cheers, Yusef. This next cohort will complete a degree in organizational studies, an interdisciplinary major that is one of Pitzer’s most popular with our traditional students. To say a few words now about this program, the OS major, I now ask Organizational Studies Professor Barbara Junisbai, who will with me become the academic advisor for these students to give a faculty perspective on the program. Barbara?
Barbara Junisbai: Hi, everyone. I’m so I am going to go a little bit off script as a professor is want to do.
Dear colleagues, dear members of the first cohort of Inside students pursuing a BA in Organizational Studies, Damien, Daniel, Freddy, Jeremy, Kenny, Reggie, Ron, and Jusef, and most of all dear friends and family, whose love and support sustain us at times dark and light. Over the past four and a half years as a professor at Pitzer College, I’ve had the pleasure of working with numerous Pitzer and Claremont Colleges students; after all, Org Studies is one of our most popular majors. And I can say with honesty and awe that our students are nothing like the version of me when I was in college. Our students are self-composed, self-reflexive, they’re brilliant, inquisitive and knowledgeable. They think broadly and critically, they are kind and they are compassionate. Our students are activists and leaders and as such, they reflect deeply upon society, the interconnections between us and the divides that separate us. They not only ponder the many dilemmas we face in the world today, but they are eager to try out solutions. And they push us as a college to hold ourselves accountable to the same high standards that they set for themselves. The attributes that I just listed are the very words that I would use to describe the eight gentlemen seated before us. Damien, Daniel, Freddie, Jeremy, Kenny, Reggie, Ron, and Yusef, you are activists and leaders. You’re self-composed, self-reflexive, you are brilliant. You are inquisitive, knowledgeable, kind and compassionate. But I would like to add one more characteristic if you don’t mind. You are fearless. Well, maybe you’re afraid of things like everyone is, but you don’t let that stop you. You’re fearless in sharing your perspective in classes with students from the outside, students whose education and life experiences are often so very different from your own. You are fearless in trying new ideas, questioning their value and seeing what they can be of use to us in our quest for liberatory education. And in our class this semester, Org Theory, you have been fearless in imagining and designing liberatory organizations that address real-world needs like sustainable affordable housing for families, holistic student-centered and participatory education, and innovative employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people. Your approach to community building is likewise fearless. You have demonstrated in the space of just one semester, in the span of a mere four months, how theory and ideas can be applied to bring out the best in us to showcase and develop our diverse talents and to amplify the impact of our diverse contributions. May the imagination and the fearlessness with which you approach your education not only sustain you as you work towards your degree, may your imagination and fearlessness be infectious. And I mean it only in the best way. May your positive energy ripple out into the world, in the same way that your energy and dedication have touched your teachers, your facilitators, your professors, including me. So thank you all and I wish you all the best of luck.
Nigel Boyle: Thank you, Barbara. At this point, we have one more important person who’s going to speak and then we’ll switch to the Q&A section. If you go down to the Q&A icon at the bottom of your screen, you can start posting questions now that the panelists will see. And when we get to that section, we’ll try and answer some of those questions. So if you want to start posting questions there, please go ahead and do so.
This BA program in Organizational Studies is part of a larger program here in Claremont, known as the Justice Education Initiative, an intercollegiate initiative growing out of a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation. Through this Mellon grant, we’ve been able to build truly intercollegiate academic programming focusing on mass incarceration, not least to the efforts of the Office of Consortial Academic Cooperation led by Professor Tessa Hicks. The Mellon grant also brought us Tyee Griffith, who is the program manager for this initiative and is a long-standing activist in the field of prison education. I’d now like to ask Tyee to say a few words about the Justice Education Initiative, and the supporters, faculty, staff and students who have made the development of this initiative and the startup BA possible. Tyee?
Tyee Griffith: Thank you so much, Nigel, and thank you to all the panelists. Good afternoon. My name is Tyee Griffith and I’m honored to be the founding manager of the Justice Education Initiative at the Claremont Colleges. For nearly 25 years, dedicated students, staff and faculty at the Claremont Colleges have been expanding educational opportunities to students in carceral settings. We are truly standing on the shoulders of pioneers like Laura Harris and others that have been doing work in carceral facilities for decades. Thanks to the generous donations from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation, we have been able to expand justice education at the Claremont Colleges. Our Inside-Out bachelor’s degree program is our cornerstone program. However, we are also doing many other exciting things. Fall 2020 we began offering credit Inside-Out courses at Prototypes. We have been able to deepen our partnership with the Reintegration Academy, a program that is geared toward helping former residents of California prisons successfully reintegrate back into their communities and create a prison-to-school pipeline. We also began a partnership with the Insight Garden Program at the California Institution for Women. The Insight Garden Program has an innovative curriculum combined with vocational gardening and landscape training. This program helps women that are residents at the California Institution for Women build a garden at the facility while they build their inner garden through a restorative approach that connects them to nature. Justice Education has also built a fruitful partnership with the transformative In Prison Workgroup, a statewide coalition that represents community-based organizations that provide programs in California prisons. Throughout the years, Justice Education has had the privilege to collaborate with and support many organizations doing amazing work, including the Prison Education Project, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Critical Resistance, Dignity and Power Now and Starting Over just to name a few.
A major goal of this initiative is to create an intercollegiate Justice Education major and minor and an intercollegiate Justice Education Center. This work could not be done without the dedication and support from some amazing people. Dr. Renford Reese, thank you for your continued vision, guidance and leadership. Tessa Hicks Peterson was the first professor to teach an Inside-Out course at CRC and has been instrumental in getting this initiative off the ground. Thank you for your continued passion and support. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you to the Justice Education working group for your tireless efforts. Thank you, Nigel Boyle, for leading this ship. Your passion and determination is a force to be reckoned with. Thank you, Yune Hie Kim, our Justice Education administrative assistant, and thank you to the amazing Inside-Out faculty and students. I want to send a special thank you to Dr. Jessica Cobb, director of the Next Phase program at Norco College. It is because of your hard work and leadership and helping Inside students obtain associate’s degrees, that we are able to offer this bachelor’s degree program.
Thank you to Superintendent Shannon Swain, Dan Abbott and Marcy Stone. Also thank you to Warden Tompkins, Lieutenant Mirales, and other correctional staff that have helped to make this program a possibility. Thank you to Principal Weaver and the education staff at CRC. And thank you Mr. Calapo. I want to send a special thank you to Miss Olana Noyes, who runs the day-to-day educational operations for our program. I don’t know where we would be without you. Last but certainly not least, I would like to thank the CRC Think Tank. The Think Tank was formed nearly seven years ago to help dictate the future of our work with Inside students at CRC. One of the first things they said is that they wanted a full bachelor’s degree program. Well, we did it. Congrats to our new Pitzer students. If you are interested in learning about how to get involved, please visit the Justice Education website. Thank you so much.
Nigel Boyle: Thanks, Tyee. And Tyee is the rock on which all of this rests.
I’d now like to move to the Q&A portion of the webinar, and anyone that can compose questions via the Q&A function there, and I’ll read out the questions and then we’ll go from there. I’ll pick up a couple that have already come in that I can quickly answer. Carolyn Davis asks about the resourcing of the program. And again, the sustainability of this program rests on the fact that faculty are just carrying out their contractual responsibility. We’re not paying faculty any extra to teach these courses, so that makes it highly sustainable. We have had these very important infusions of funds from the Rapoport and Mellon Foundations to get us to the start off point and to overcome COVID issues. But it’s the volume of the entire curriculum that we’re able to generate that is really sustaining the bulk of this program.
David Olson asks a question as well. If an incarcerated student is released before they finish their degree, do they transfer to the Pitzer campus? Excellent question. This issue has already come up due to early releases because of educational credits and the like. Two of our students are actually going to be released before they will finish their BAs. And Pitzer has a marvelous New Resource Program for non-traditional aged students. And the workaround we have for those students is that they will be admitted as New Resource students and be able to complete the program. But a couple of excellent questions there.
Andrea Scott poses the question: “What kinds of courses would Inside students love to take at Pitzer?” And I’m going to throw that one at Damien.
Damien: Pitzer courses, there’s a lot of organizational theory that we go through. There’s African American Studies. Liberal arts, there’s a lot of not liberal arts so much, but it’s more like there’s psychology classes that we were taking, history, there’s economic theory like principles of food and economics, religion, so there’s a whole gamut of courses that we are allowed to take but also to the most important thing that it does, it allows us, they have core values at Pitzer and it allows us to work on our core values of social and environmental responsibility and giving back to the community and developing us as a person. So those are the courses that are offered. There’s more but…
Nigel Boyle: What are the courses you would like to have offered that are not currently offered?
Damien: I’m a science major. So, I would love to have some quantum mechanics and physics, but extra heavy duty mathematics. But I’m happy with the organizational studies curriculum right now for the moment.
Nigel Boyle: But we are scouring the Claremont Colleges for physicists that will do an independent study with Damien. So we’re going to do our best there, Damien.
A question from Tamara Hesse. As we know, formerly incarcerated students have a lot of trouble getting jobs and being successful when outside of prison. What are some options these students will have after being in this bachelor’s program that they will be able to utilize for their futures? So, is there anybody on the panel that would like to take a crack at that question?
Tyee Griffith: So, what I will say is that, through the Justice Education umbrella, we have strong partnerships with programs like the Reintegration Academy, which of course, would support our students that are re-entering. We also are making connections with our students and our career center, so that they can know about all of the internship opportunities that are available to them, as well as building a resume and so on. I know that we have one student in particular that is interested in a fellowship. And so, one of our goals is to really work with each of these students individually to ensure that we connect them with the right folks, and that we support them in building a strong network that will help them be successful.
Shannon Swain: I can add a little bit, Nigel. The Office of Correctional Education for CDCR offers 20 different career technical education pathways, which differ from institution to institution. We have college opportunities at every institution, both at our female institutions, as well as every institution for men. These vary by institution based on the mission, based on the physical layout, etc. But those opportunities are there and many of our college students have completed some CTE certification program in addition to their college pursuits.
Nigel Boyle: Thanks, Shannon. I think I saw Yusef stepping forward, do what you want to say something to this question as well?
Yusef: Well, just when I heard the question, I immediately thought about the CGU program and how after I graduate, I plan on applying for the CGU program, which is a program where they offer master’s degrees. And I want to eventually get my master’s degree and eventually get a PhD and come back and teach other incarcerated students because I’ve been so impressed with the professors here at Pitzer and what they do. And so, beyond that, also, I was made aware of the Fulbright scholarship and how they provide an ability to study abroad. And so I’m looking forward to apply for a Fulbright scholarship and hopefully traveling to maybe West Africa and studying the prison system that they have there and what it would be like to see the prison system in a more homogenous society as compared to the United States. So those are some of the things that I look forward to, some of the resources that I feel like I will be able to be afforded by Pitzer College. Thank you.
Nigel Boyle: Thanks, Yusef, of Pitzer class of 2021 and if we’ve got anything to do with it, Fulbright Scholar 2022-23, so we’ll work on that.
A question from Hillary Reiko here. How many Inside-Out classes do the five colleges offer per year to make this possible? Good question. We are currently offering next semester, I think we’ve got seven classes this coming semester. This previous semester, it was six. We actually have far more faculty that want to teach these classes that we actually have slots to teach them in right now. So, we’ve got a very large number of courses that are available here. But for the purposes of the BA program, what we need to make sure is that for the Organizational Studies requirements, that those classes are taught as Inside-Out classes so that our students can complete those courses and complete their degree within the timeframe that we have in mind. So, it’s a commitment from the Organizational Studies field group to provide their curriculum on an Inside-Out basis to allow the students to complete. I’m not really good here on reading the questions that are coming in. So, if other panelists spot questions in the Q&A that they would like to respond to, please jump in.
Shannon Swain: I did see a question from a family member or an acquaintance of someone who’s incarcerated at a different institution within the state. And what I will say is that within CDCR, there is a very detailed classification system that identifies the needs of each individual incarcerated person. So any individual incarcerated within California is absolutely able to request transfer. And if their case file and determining factors allow for their transfer to CRC, then they would be able to apply to Pitzer College. It’s important to note that every student who has entered this program went through the formal application process. They needed to meet the eligibility criteria which includes an associate’s degree for transfer. So they had already completed many of their general education requirements in order to be able to enter this program and matriculate as formal students. I will also tell you that within CDCR, we are actively pursuing additional opportunities for higher education. I’m currently working on memoranda of understanding to be able to serve our women, memorandum of understanding to be able to serve folks at RJD. We are doing demonstration projects with UC, a California State University, as well as the private Pitzer College. So, our intention is to continue to increase these opportunities for our students.
Nigel Boyle: Thanks, Shannon. There’s one question here I’d like to field from Kate Levin, a question about the curriculum and credits. Do all the students enter Pitzer’s BA program with associate’s degrees from Norco College, i.e., does Pitzer provide upper-level courses? And we’ve got the Vice President for Academic Affairs from Norco College, Samuel Lee, he’s on the panel here today. But let me describe this briefly. All the students come in with at least an associate’s degree and what Norco College is doing are the associate’s degrees for transfer. So these are associate’s degrees that also meet the requirements for entering a Cal State or UC. They also meet a lot of Pitzer’s distributional requirements, so they come in with that. They also come in with having taken large numbers of Inside-Out classes now. So, what we’re essentially doing is stacking a degree completion program on the fantastic work that Norco College has done through the associate’s degrees of transfer, and the accumulated credit that a large number of guys at CRC have now accumulated. But Dean Lee, would you like to add? We were having a technical problem earlier, so I’m not sure if you can be heard but would you like to comment on Norco College’s terrific role in this?
Samuel Lee: Thank you so much. We do play a small part in this partnership that we’re very happy about. We serve right now 239 incarcerated students at the CRC. And we’re offering about 30 courses right now. And all of them are geared toward transfer associates, to be transferred to CSU in Sociology and Business Administration. And so, I think we are the head of the funnel, trying to promote access to higher ed and so pleased to see these eight scholars admitted to this program today. It’s an amazing moment.
Nigel Boyle: And I’ll repeat Tyee’s shout out to Jessica Cobb, Norco College, who I’ll note has done stellar work and helping us build this. Again, if the panelists see questions they’d like to jump, on a please do. Otherwise, I will try and put one out.
Lori Pompa: I’d like to read a question, it’s not something for me to answer. This is from Tessa Hicks. She says, “So grateful and proud for this phenomenal BA pathway program. If there’s time, I’d love to hear from one of the Inside students about a single transformative moment they have experienced in the Inside-Out classroom.”
Nigel Boyle: Great; might there be one of the guys that didn’t speak earlier but has a story about an inspirational moment they’ve had in one of their Inside-Out classes?
Reggie: My name is Reggie. And it’s kind of hard for me to go ahead and say exactly, and pinpoint just one specific instance that I’ve had in any sort of class with Pitzer’s Inside-Out program. I would say every single day that I come to a class, it has been transformative in some way. And I think a better part of this program is just enabling us to story tell, to actually understand what’s going on within our society. And so if I was to pinpoint anything, I would say that it’s coming up with the counter-narrative of the hegemonic forces that have gone ahead and continued to set the course of our nation as to what it is today. And as cliched as it might sound is, I think it’s something built upon love that can transform our minds and our hearts. And so, for me, that’s what it’s been. Thank you.
Nigel Boyle: Is there is anyone else there in the room that would like to give us a thought?
Daniel: So, for me, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly one instance, because they’re all fulfilling. But originally, with the Organizational Theory class that we took with Professor Junisbai, we had a guest speaker come and talk about the importance of civic engagement and a lot of times that’s lacking through correspondence courses. So that was really eye-opening for me, because not only do we have to learn, but you have to try to give back to your community. And the emphasis on giving back was what really touched me and inspires me to not just learn for myself, but for my community and give back. Thank you.
Nigel Boyle: Anyone else would like, or move on to another question? There’s actually a question I’d like to throw to Lori, because it’s sort of an issue for us that work in Inside-Out now. But this is from Teresa Leopold. “Are Outside students allowed to take more than one interact class at a time?” The answer there is yes on multiple interact classes over the college careers. “If so, are their measures in place to keep close relationships from forming?” So, this is this is kind of an issue within Inside-Out that the relationships between Inside and Outside students, which we may need to modify in light of a BA program. But Lori, would you like to comment on that?
Lori Pompa: Are there measures in place? Well, basically, what we are, what we’re trying to do, is keep the relationships professional, so that they’re not, relationships don’t become overly personal. And it’s just a question, I guess, of people thinking about, I mean, we talk about having connections that are programmatic in nature, which we think is really important. So, I’m not sure that I can say much more beyond that at this point.
Nigel Boyle: But it’s something for us to think about now that, for example, we will have inside students who are Organizational Studies majors who will be meeting outside Organizational Studies majors in repeated classes. And so, there’s a relationship over time that’s going to develop that wouldn’t be true of a single class.
Lori Pompa: Well, that is true. And I think it makes a difference. Once a person is out, for example, but especially people who are still incarcerated. It is important to keep that kind of professional relationship going. And part of that has to do with, and I would think that the folks in corrections who are here would appreciate this, that what we don’t want, but what I know from years of doing this, that administrators and corrections don’t want is for somebody to be coming in for a class one week and then the next week coming in for a personal visit. So that is how this whole program can be shut down, because all sorts of things can happen. And so that’s why we have in place the kind of parameters that we that we do have in place to try to avoid untoward things happening.
Nigel Boyle: Thanks, Lori. One quick question here on resources that I’ll address from Judith Rider. “Can you say more about the technology used available for the program as well as the ability of books?” So that’s a good question in the current environment. We got a small grant from Mellon to counter the effects of COVID. And this is going to be providing all eight guys with a laptop, and they will have access through the cloud to materials and then using a learning management system, materials can be made available to them. We are also making efforts to make sure that the Inside students have access to the same resources as Outside students in order to do their courses. So we’re making books available to the Inside students. And we’re also trying, we can’t exactly duplicate what our Claremont students receive in terms of support, but we’re trying to at least mimic the same. The CRC staff are able to provide some of this support. But for example, one of the classes we have, one of these classes we have by Kim Drake from Scripps College next semester, who’s the director of the Writing Center at Scripps, is to use that class to create effectively a writing center within CRC. So again, we’re trying to make efforts now that these are our Pitzer students, they’re entitled to equivalent levels of support, and we’re doing what we can to support that. And some of that does involve extra expense that we have to find then.
So, we’re down to the last couple of minutes. Is there a question that any of the panelists would like to jump on right here at the end? Or is there anything that any of the panelists or any of the guys in the room are bursting to say at this point?
Daniel: I just wanted to say hi to my mom, she’s logged in. And also say thank you to everybody for listening to us. And that’s it. Thank you.
Nigel Boyle: Thanks, Daniel. Okay, with that, I’m going to bring the events to a close, the guys actually have an appointment at two o’clock that they need to get to. But I want to thank everybody who’s participated in the webinar and all who watched it. And so, I’d like at this point to ask the students to say goodbye to everyone that is logged in here. We hope to have follow-up conversations over Zoom involving the guys inside early in the new year, during which we can get into more detail about some of the questions that have been raised today and others besides so we hope to follow up there in the spring semester with that.
We’d like to wish everybody, both inside and outside, good health in these dark times with that. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas. And as we all I’m sure look forward to seeing the back of 2020 post-COVID, perhaps we can look forward to celebrating the graduations of these eight students here on Pitzer’s campus. So as they say in Ireland, slán abhaile.