In our neighborhoods, nation, and world, we find ourselves in a historic moment in which we must reckon with ongoing and undeniable racial injustice. Such racial injustice also afflicts our campus and our community members.

As recent posts from current students and alumni on social media reveal, racist interactions occur casually and callously on our campus; they involve our students, staff, and faculty; they occur in various locations around campus; and they cause enduring pain and suffering.

We are writing today for two reasons. First, we write to express our deep regret for the pain and suffering members of our Lafayette community have experienced in these racist interactions. Second, we write not merely to invite or encourage—but to challenge—each of us—faculty, students, and staff—to take action to battle bias and racism on our campus.

Such individual action cannot substitute for institutional action, and the administration will be sharing an update soon on steps we are taking to combat racism within our institution and community.

Changing our own words and deeds is also critical to changing the culture, however. What are we challenging ourselves to do?

To actively and directly make our campus community more equitable and inclusive

  • support the Black Lives Matter movement and affirm Black Lives Matter as a core value of our community;
  • treat members of our community from racially diverse backgrounds with respect and positive regard;
  • expand our networks of friends and associates to be more inclusive than they currently are;
  • reject and call out racist and biased language, views, and/or policies inside and outside the classroom;
  • bring ideas to promote inclusion and equity on campus to the College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council (contact deicouncil@lafayette.edu).

To educate ourselves about the history and pervasiveness of systemic racism

  • not rely on communities of color to do this but instead take the initiative to read, listen to, and watch materials on the pervasiveness and impact of systemic racism;
  • consult and employ this list of resources on addressing racism and racial injustice and participate in town halls and panel discussions on these topics on campus and elsewhere;
  • draw on the academic expertise held by members of our campus community to deepen our understanding of racism.

To stop the denial of racism

  • acknowledge it and reflect on our own biases and prejudices;
  • insist on accountability—
  • we must hold ourselves and those around us accountable when we or others say, hear, or see racist behavior;
  • apologize, make amends, and seek forgiveness for past racist behaviors;
  •  report acts of bias and follow up on them.

To build our capacity for empathy and kindness

  • listen to, believe, understand, and validate the racist experiences shared by others;
  • fight feelings of defensiveness or guilt that can interfere with feeling empathy and expressing kindness toward those who experience racism;
  • cultivate friendships and collegial relationships with people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Join us in this challenge. We need you in our fight to end racism and bias, and to build a more inclusive college and community.

Respectfully,

Members of the College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, Bias Response Team, Office of Intercultural Development, Faculty Diversity Committee
Jamila Bookwala, dean of the faculty and chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council
Annette Diorio, vice president of campus life
Jennifer Dize, assistant dean of students
Karina Fuentes, assistant director, Office of Intercultural Development
Alex Hendrickson, College chaplain and director of religious and spiritual life
Jim Meyer, associate director and chief of police, Department of Public Safety
Mike Olin, dean of advising
Alma Scott-Buczak, associate vice president of human resources

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3 Comments

  1. John Kincaid says:

    How many Lafayette faculty participated in the BLM demonstrations in Easton or other Lehigh Valley communities? If the College is asking people to take concrete actions, it should assemble metrics of accomplishment, not just deliver rhetoric.

    1. John Smith says:

      Lafayette needs to start to actually practice its policies equally, despite the immutable characteristics of whomever is reporting injustice. There need to be important, reasonable steps in order to correct the course Lafayette College is currently on.

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