On June 19, we gathered to celebrate the Juneteenth holiday, explore the profound effect structural racism can have on Black colleagues and students within our community, and discuss how we can become a more equitable university tomorrow than we are today. Through 14 breakout sessions and two plenaries, we pledged to find and eradicate any structural racism at Tufts and to take the steps necessary to become what every member of our community would view as an anti-racist institution.
To focus our efforts toward achieving these important goals, we will be launching the following workstreams:
Institutional audit and targeted action: To remove any and all structural racism from our university, we must identify how it can be embedded at all levels and build upon and learn from the anti-racism work in which many departments are already engaging. An institutional audit framework will encompass an exploration of structures, procedures, and educational content with suggestions on what implementations are necessary to improve them. The framework will also include an analysis of the ways the history of racism is relevant to our institution, which will also inform the work of the other workstreams. This working group will be led by Kim Ryan, our new vice president for human resources, who will join the community later this month. She will be supported by Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer for the Health Sciences Schools Joyce Sackey.
Campus policing: This initiative will be led by Executive Vice President Mike Howard and supported by Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer for the Medford/Somerville and SMFA campuses Rob Mack. This workstream will benchmark best practices of how other universities manage policing on their campuses and ask critical questions about the power dynamics of policing at Tufts, including how the police are perceived by Black community members, and other community members of color, and consider what we require to keep our community safe and secure. Among the questions to be explored are: What are the key public safety functions we need? How should these functions be performed? Who should perform these functions? What would true community policing look like on our campuses? What, if any, policing activities on campus require an armed police officer? And what advisory structure, which would engage representatives of the community, may be needed in support of campus policing and public safety?
Public art: The Public Art Committee, which was formed last year as part of the decision to remove the murals from Alumnae Lounge, will be charged with thinking critically about whose history and images are displayed throughout our campuses. Chief of Staff Marty Ray will be responsible for overseeing this work.
Tufts’ compositional diversity: This workstream, overseen by Provost and Senior Vice President Nadine Aubry, will look at the diversity of our students, our faculty, our staff, and our academic and administrative leadership. This working group will be charged with making specific recommendations on how to recruit and retain a more representative university community.
Equity and inclusion: This effort will look at academic support services and new education and training programs that can help ensure that issues of equity and inclusion are addressed in our classrooms and throughout our community. Provost Aubry will be responsible for this group’s work and will be supported by Joyce Sackey.
Each of the senior team members responsible for aspects of this work—Nadine Aubry, Mike Howard, Marty Ray, and Kim Ryan—will be reaching out to stakeholders across the university to create larger, representative working groups, which will make recommendations to the president before the end of 2020. Once the recommendations have been made, a broader plan for implementing them will be shared with the Tufts community. As appropriate, and possible, recommendations will also be acted upon immediately as they are made.
As this process continues, there will be opportunities for all members of our community to engage with and contribute to the analysis, planning, and implementation process. In addition, each of us has a responsibility to do the individual work necessary to be an anti-racist change agent. We have posted a list of community-driven action plans as well as more resources and opportunities on the Chief Diversity Officers’ website. If you have not already done so, we also encourage you to provide feedback on the Day of Reflection, Commitment, and Action here. In the coming days, we will be sharing recordings of the plenaries and breakout sessions from the Juneteenth observance. In addition, we encourage you to share with us any trainings, discussion groups, book clubs, or related resources that you would like to have available to the community.
We want to thank each of you for the work you have already done and for being partners in this effort moving forward.
Tony Monaco, President
Nadine Aubry, Provost and Senior Vice President
Mike Howard, Executive Vice President
Rob Mack, Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, Medford/Somerville and SMFA campuses
Joyce Sackey, Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, Health Sciences Schools