On June 15, I announced a new Presidential Initiative on Race, Power, and Privilege (RPP). 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, power, and privilege. We must create brave spaces that engage all of us where we are, challenge us to grow, and empower us to be part of positive change. The initiative assumes that all of us, as individuals, as groups, and as a College, can and must learn and act if everyone’s experiences are to align with our ideals.
I am writing today with updates on the initiative. I am pleased to announce our Steering committee membership. This extraordinary and diverse group of students, faculty, staff, and alumni has committed to the difficult conversations required for understanding and progress. After sharing our individual perspectives and reasons for joining the steering committee, we engaged in an initial discussion of concerns and recommendations submitted by our community, as well as activities that are already underway. Together, we identified five initial focus areas for immediate steering committee review. They are:
- Increasing support for Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC)
- Cultural competency training for students, staff, and faculty
- Curricular changes
- Faculty and staff diversity
- Campus Safety and Schenectady Police
Each group has been charged with addressing the following questions:
- What is the problem?
- How has Union attempted to address this problem?
- What are lessons learned from Union and other contexts?
- What actions should Union pursue?
- What would success look like?
- When should we expect to see meaningful progress?
Groups will continue to meet weekly, with work continuing between meetings. Preliminary responses will be shared with the full group on August 12. More detailed responses will be shared by August 28, at which time we will review the progress of each subgroup and determine next steps. As the work of the subgroups progresses, additional focus areas will be explored. Updates will be provided to the community periodically, primarily on the RPP website. You can share feedback and ideas for the committee to review at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David R. Harris