Listening, Solidarity, Action

This afternoon, I sent the following message to the campus community:

Dear friends,

Observing overt acts of racism, and listening to callous racist rhetoric in the public sphere, harms us all, but it really disrupts the lives of those already made most vulnerable by unjust systems of discrimination and inequality. My heart goes out to students, faculty and staff who are already feeling marginalized and are shaken by what we’ve been witnessing. I stand in solidarity with them.

Events unfolding on campuses across the country are disturbing, but they also create new opportunities for understanding and action. Bringing these issues to the fore creates openings for more concerted efforts to improve the experiences of students of color and other marginalized communities on our campus. I am confident that doing so will make our entire institution stronger, more effective.

Today I am charging all cabinet members to assess what they’ve been doing for equity and inclusion and what more can be done in their areas. The Office of Equity & Inclusion student advisory board has already been at work identifying specific steps we can take to improve the campus climate. I look forward to meeting with them in December to discuss this important work. I will also be talking with the faculty about specific ways we can eliminate bias from the classroom, and how we might infuse into our curriculum even more classes that deal with pressing local, national and international issues of inequality.

Our campus aspires to be an open, inclusive and equitable community—a place of freedom, exuberance, learning and care. We must continue our conversations about what our community members are feeling and thinking. We need to listen. For my part, I encourage Wesleyans to stand up and make themselves heard. I will listen and so will your university.

Michael S. Roth