Dear A&S students, faculty and staff,
Recently our campus received the results of the Campus Climate Pulse Survey. Led by Dr. Damon Williams of the University of Wisconsin’s Equity & Inclusion Laboratory, the findings conveyed a stark and distressing reality: large numbers of our community feel marginalized, unsupported, and alone.
That is not acceptable to me. Therefore, I write today to ask you to hear the voices that are embodied by these data points. These are not abstract percentages. They are expressions of pain and fear from your classmates, students and colleagues. Their experiences are available via a six-page executive summary, or detailed in a longer-form report at https://diversity.syr.edu/pulse-survey/. I urge you to take the time to see where we stand as a community in this moment. Once you do, I hope you’ll take a deep breath and keep on reading this email, because I need your help.
As your dean, I love this college and strive for it to be a place that is challenging but welcoming for all. Together with associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, Professor Kishi Ducre, we have been hard at work providing faculty training; recruiting and retaining professors of color; implementing new requirements for classes that address issues of structural racism and privilege; and so much more. I hope you’ll take a moment to look over the College’s DEI plan and sign up to receive updates on our progress. You can find it at:https://thecollege.syr.edu/diversity-and-inclusion/draft-diversity-action-plan-summary-2018/
As the climate survey makes obvious, however, there is so much more that has to be done. And it is work that must not be left only to particular groups. If you are a member of the A&S community, then I call on you to help us make this an environment in which ALL people are supported in reaching their potential.
Here’s how. Both the College and University are continuing to implement opportunities for you to provide your ideas and feedback. For example, registration is now open for discussion sessions regarding the University’s draft Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) Strategic Plan. You can learn about that opportunity and also register to participate at: https://diversity.syr.edu/deia/. Or, consider submitting your ideas and experiences via a confidential online feedback survey, found at that same link.
Yes, the work is not always easy. And yes, it will be a process. A good place to start is with a simple commitment to beginning the process. In the weeks and months to come, you can expect to be invited to participate in various opportunities designed to facilitate dialogue and make progress toward a more welcoming and equitable campus. I ask you to participate when you can, with an open mind and a desire to make the College and University a place where all people feel supported and secure.