Posted June 12, 2020
CIC students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends,
It has been almost three weeks since George Floyd ignited a new movement for social justice that in his death achieved what he could not in his life — his dream to “touch the world.” Those are the words he spoke to a classmate as students at Jack Yates High School in Houston, according to his obituary in The New York Times. Indeed, in the past three weeks we have witnessed a powerful, global solidarity among people of all ages and races standing together as part of the Black Lives Matter movement’s fight against police brutality and for racial justice. And we are already feeling the impact of Floyd’s tragic death as sweeping social justice reforms gain momentum.
The past three weeks have given us an opportunity to listen, to learn, and to reflect. To be clear, the College of Information and Communications stands in solidarity with those causes as well as press freedom and other First Amendment rights that have been infringed upon during the attacks on peaceful protesters and journalists fulfilling their societal role. We also understand how difficult these moments have been for all in our community and we want you to know that we support you and are here for you. That is why it is important for us to remind you of our commitment to ensuring that we create an environment that is welcoming, equitable and inclusive to all, embracing our diversity of thought, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sexual identity, ability, age, economic status, and all the ways we are different. Last year we created the Brown Bag Let’s Talk About series and the Dean’s Dive-In Lunches. These are sustainable platforms and spaces for every member of our community and will be used again this year for the difficult conversations about race, diversity and inclusion.
Many of you have reached out to us with ideas and suggestions for programming and events that include spaces for listening and sharing content. We have also received resource lists for curricula and opportunities for faculty and staff professional development. Please continue to share those.
For faculty and staff, the DEI office will provide a listening space in Blackboard Collaborate for those who want to share their feelings about diversity, equity and inclusion. The associate dean for academic affairs and SJMC director are also planning a virtual teaching resource forum on racialized class structures, a virtual panel discussion on protests, police and the press that recognizes our role and responsibility in educating the next generation of information and communication professionals.
We also plan to offer diversity training for faculty and staff, in addition to what the university has planned for incoming freshmen. There are many university DEI resources that we encourage you to continue to take advantage of such as the Welcome Table, CTE’s Teaching Toward Inclusive Excellence, and the Office of Multicultural Students Association.
We invite you to take advantage of these offerings as well as those you should expect to hear about and see from other DEI leaders in the college, particularly the Augusta Baker Chair programming and the Media and Civil Rights History Symposium.
This is an important time in our history that reminds us all of the work that we have yet to do in terms of creating a college that is representative of the population we serve, to continue our goals to achieve a diverse student body, faculty, staff and administration, reflect diversity and inclusiveness in our curricula, research and public service, and create an equitable environment where all will succeed.
We reaffirm our commitment to these goals, values and ideals and together, we stand in solidarity with those who seek a more equitable and just society.
In closing, we are taking action but we also continue to listen, to learn and reflect. We invite you to continue to share with us your feelings, your suggestions and your struggles.
Shirley Staples Carter, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Tom Reichert, Dean