by Pamela Dean

The racial justice crisis that has gripped the nation’s attention this year has deepened CSUCI’s resolve to stamp out racially-biased policy and processes on its campus.

“Our campus is not immune to the pervasiveness of systemic racism,” CSUCI President Erika D. Beck, Ph.D. told a virtual audience of faculty and staff at this year’s Convocation address. “The first step in combating institutional racism is in acknowledging its presence and embracing the understanding that we do not all experience our academic community in the same way.”   

The University has already taken steps toward dismantling racism and realizing racial justice on campus and is rolling out many more campus-wide strategies in the coming months. 

Over the summer, the University’s Police Department underwent training on implicit bias and de-escalation. Two campus officers are certified instructors for Principled Policing, a course focused on implicit bias and procedural justice, and will be delivering that training to CSUCI officers as well as officers throughout the CSU system. The department implemented the community public safety recommendations made by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. A Police Advisory Council has also been formed to expand the collaboration, build trust and enhance transparency between the campus community and the campus police.

Robust and ongoing anti-racism trainings are being developed and implemented across all areas. For example, Student Affairs launched a training program in the fall called “Power, Prejudice and Identity.” The program examines white privilege and implicit bias among other topics.

“Our primary goal is to provide a diversity, equity and inclusion framework for Student Affairs that is a foundation for growth, development, knowledge acquisition and skill sets that enhance community and ultimately student and staff success,” said Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Charles Osiris, Ph.D. “Being empowered by this awareness and skill development will help us better serve our students.”

Other critical campus steps include an Advancing Faculty Diversity project which is looking at ways to attract, hire and retain more diverse faculty; the hiring of three new tenure-track faculty with expertise in anti-racism and the experiences of the Black community; the creation of a new minor in Africana studies; and concentrated efforts to recruit more Black students.

Additionally, the Faculty Affairs office is overseeing several professional development workshops geared toward administrators and faculty. “There is a need for all faculty, staff and administrators to develop equity-minded competence in order to value all the wonderful diversity we have at CSUCI,” said Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs Sheila K. Grant, Ph.D.

The Office of the President is also engaging in professional development efforts to advance equity, inclusion and diversity. “In an effort to take responsibility for our own education, our staff is reading books and articles, participating in webinars and watching documentaries,” said Chief of Staff Genevieve Evans Taylor, Ed.D. “We are collectively processing through materials that enable self-discovery around unpacking racism in education, systemic racism, and implicit bias.  We are committed to enacting racial justice and recognize this work starts from within each of us.”   

Although important steps have been taken, the campus acknowledges that this is just the beginning. Achieving racial justice at CSUCI will require a full body of work that must be prioritized and conducted intentionally at all levels and within all areas across campus.

A more detailed look at the campus’ anti-racism plans can be found on its 7-Step Framework for Realizing Racial Justice webpage

Dr. Martin Luther King in 1963

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© Fall 2020 / Volume 25 / Number 2 / Biannual

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