Building an Anti-Racist Community at IUP

Posted on 6/3/2020 8:23:04 PM

The President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion was formed in October 2016 to develop a Diversity Action Plan in order to provide guidance for improving the racial climate on IUP‘s campus. While the commission has been working behind the scenes to advance change at IUP, the events of the last week and a half have made us painfully aware that we need to do better. We need to do more.

This weekend, we heard from President Driscoll, VP for Student Affairs Thomas Segar, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Elise Glenn, and Indiana Borough Police Chief Justin Schawl. We stand firmly with the message in all of these statements: racism has no place at IUP or in our local community. We hope to hear more from other leaders across campus, including our local public safety officials. We all have work to do.

The murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 is not the first incident of police brutality and disregard for human life in the black community. This is not about one death, but the systemic racism that the Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name movements have been exposing for years.

The famous civil rights activist Angela Davis said, “In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.”

What is anti-racism? There is no one simple definition; however, at its core it is about fighting against racism. We can do this through raising up all voices, listening to racially marginalized voices, not putting the burden of this work solely on people of color, and denouncing racism and the structures that enable it.

Where does IUP fit in this conversation? As an institution of higher education, it is our responsibility not only to educate our students, but also to educate ourselves. We need to actively work on being an anti-racist institution to transform our curriculum and our communities, now and in the future.

While efforts have been made to address racism on campus since the commission was formed, there is more work to do. Faculty, staff, and administrators need to actively work to make IUP an anti-racist institution through our words and actions. We must do this work for our students. For our former students, who experienced racism during their time at IUP. For our current students, who are looking to campus leadership to support them and acknowledge the injustices against them. And for our future students, who we hope to welcome to a truly diverse, inclusive, and anti-racist campus. We do this work for the generations to come.

This work will not be rushed. This will not be a one-time workshop. This will be a conscious, persistent, collective, and long-term effort. We have a lot of work to do, but we must start somewhere.

Resources on Anti-Racism

As a starting point, we would like to share a few resources to get the conversation going. Please note that more resources, workshops, dialogues, etc. are coming. Anti-racist work is not just something that we do in this moment, it should be embodied in everything we do going forward.

  • We encourage you to explore the concept of anti-racism more through the Being Anti-Racist article published by the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

  • Privilege is something that often comes up in anti-racist work. Privilege comes in many forms. Peggy McIntosh’s piece White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack is a great place to start. Many of you may be familiar with her work from her April 26, 2016 keynote here at IUP.

  • As we consider the work we need to do, it is also helpful to have an understanding of our own biases. Harvard’s Project Implicit provides a starting point for self-reflection.

  • The Michigan League for Public Policy created a 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge. As one of our members noted, this is an accessible place to start and is incredibly useful.

  • Consider how your own words, actions, course content, office and residence-hall décor, programing, and attendance at campus events can support an anti-racist campus environment.

  • IUP’s Office of Social Equity has additional resources on diversity and inclusion on campus.

  • You can report an Incident of Concern on the IUP website.

We Want to Hear from You

As a commission we are working to get plans in place. We will be reaching out to you in the near future to hear from you. We look forward to hearing from you and building up IUP as an actively anti-racist campus and community.

The President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion

Yaw Asamoah, Co-Chair – College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Megan Knoch, Co-Chair – Department of Biology
Allison Baker – University College
Shelly Bouchat – Department of Mathematical and Computer Sciences
Dan Burkett – Department of Mathematical and Computer Sciences; Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Melanie Duncan – Department of Sociology
Debra Evans-Smith – IUP Alumni Association Board of Directors; Deputy Assistant Director, Counterintelligence Division, FBI (Retired)
Tammy Hamilton – Office of Financial Operations
Melvin Jenkins – Department of Developmental Studies
Shirley Johnson – Department of Professional Studies in Education
Shawn Jones – Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Oksana Moroz – Department of English
Frank Owusu – Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Mike Powers – Division of Marketing and Communications
Cristina Sánchez-Martín – Department of English
Keith Stinnette – Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science
Theo Turner – Division of Student Affairs
Daneice Wade – Department of Accounting
Kustim Wibowo – Department of Information Systems and Decision Sciences