These are difficult times for our country, our communities, our College and ourselves. At each level, our conception of who we are is being challenged by a reality that is increasingly difficult to deny. Last week, we held an online forum, “Racial Injustice: What Can U Do?” Community members shared their perspectives on race and racial injustice in our country and on our campus. It was difficult for many to hear, as students, faculty, staff, and alumni shared painful, personal experiences. I spoke about how Union College must take substantial and intentional steps towards teaching, learning, reflecting and engaging in meaningful action around power and privilege. To fail to do so, would once again allow a moment of intensity and commitment to become a missed opportunity.
As a liberal arts college, we must provide ongoing, purposeful, and diverse opportunities for our students, faculty, staff and alumni to engage on issues of race, privilege and power. We must create brave spaces across campus that engage all of us where we are, and help us grow and be part of positive change.
Therefore, as the 19th President of Union College I am announcing the Presidential Initiative on Race, Power and Privilege.
We will begin by creating a steering committee on Race, Power and Privilege that will be responsible for the refinement of the initiative, and report to the Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and the President. The committee will provide recommendations for how we can all deepen our knowledge and effect change, with a focus on national and campus experiences, policies, perspectives, and histories. Members will be drawn from across our community - faculty, staff, students and alumni. They will work with individuals in our community, faculty and student committees, student groups, departments, and offices to evaluate what we do, how we teach and learn, and how we must change so that our community is prepared to make positive changes in our nation, our communities, our College, and ourselves.
It is clear that these issues and this time require deep learning and reflection, but also strategy and action. We invite you to join us letting us know what we are already doing well and should expand, and what needs to improve. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.