Director & Founding Dean Jan Hirsch: Addressing Racial Injustices

Addressing Racial Injustices 
Dear Anteater Community, 

On June 2nd, during the height of national anti-black racism protests and unrest, I sent a message out to our students, faculty and staff with my thoughts.  Part of my draft closing paragraph initially read “As an individual, I am committing myself to being a significant part of the solution.”  I was asked by our communications director to add language about how I was going to do this.  Truthfully, I was not sure how but I added “by reexamining my own thoughts and actions” to the end of the sentence.  It was still a very weak statement – but that was all I had. Later in my message I stated as dean “…I am committing to maximizing our efforts to increase diversity and promote inclusion within our students, faculty and staff.”   Again, a fairly weak statement.
I was asked if I wanted to attach our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness (DEI) plan, and I didn’t. Because even though it was well thought out, and had received praise on our campus, I felt it was inadequate. Inadequate, because it was just words on a paper. Inadequate because as I watched my newsfeeds, blogs and television, the ideas we knew to write into the plan were clearly not working. We need a major re-think – we can do better.  

Since June 2nd, I have been talking to people about anti-black racism and admitting that there is so much I do not know or understand.  I’ve been listening to those who have more experience from their own lives or their studies, or have just been a more observant person than I am.  I have been reading and watching videos to educate myself, and it is not lost on me that there is so much more for me to learn. I ’ve asked our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee to meet and focus on the premise that our current DEI plan is inadequate and begin to create a timeline and the resources needed to revise the current plan to be more proactive and action-oriented.  This includes specific actions we can take by the end of July to advance DEI for our students, staff, faculty. 

I don’t think I am alone in not knowing how and what the absolute best changes to make are, but let’s not let that stop any of us from making some. I am learning and am committed to listening as I learn. We are not always going to get it right, but I hope you will join us as we work to move forward towards a truly inclusive society. 

Sincerely, 

Jan Hirsch
Director & Founding Dean

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