Colleges and universities need leaders to initiate and promote strategic initiatives that encourage inclusivity but denounce bigotry and prejudice.
At Sacred Heart, the university president began a zero tolerance policy for racial injustice by putting up posters around campus that publicitized the importance of inclusivity and the rejection of prejudice. Now, whenever a racial incident takes place, the president has lengthy conversations with those affected by racism on campus to help him enact actions against those who perpetrated the bigotry. “If it means suspending a student who has made a racial slur, he may do that,” says Loris.
Additionally, Sacred Heart’s president gathers the community in the university chapel whenever a violent act of bigotry takes place to reflect and speak on the school’s zero tolerance policy. “I can tell you that the chapel is always filled with students, faculty and staff,” says Loris.
At Mills College, a task force of leaders in the school of education was recently formed to create a schoolwide approach on how to address racial injustice. “The task force was formed after the recent murder of George Floyd and the uprising that followed,” says Williams. “Our students were terribly upset and began thinking about how they could be active and engage from their vantage point as they prepare to equitably practice.”
This was soon brought to the attention of faculty and a conversation followed. “We decided that we needed to create a response not just for students in one program, but to engage their concerns by including faculty leaders across multiple departments to center our attention as a school,” says Williams.
Once a clear path has been identified, the task force will determine how to communicate their strategy to constituents via social media and to create campaigns that will prepare educators in the field.