Greetings to you all,
Lao Tzu wisely observed that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” In June we began an important journey when we held four forums to give our students, alumni, staff, and faculty the opportunity to share how the evils of racism have touched their lives. At the end of those forums, I made a promise to you all that Le Moyne would work harder, that we would strive to become an anti-racist institution. I committed us to a journey of a thousand miles.
I also promised that I would report back to you on our progress today, August 17, as our fall semester begins. While there are many hundreds of miles still before us, I am amazed at the generosity of the members of the Le Moyne community who have joined the Racial Justice Committee or consulted with it. The work we are doing is clearly in line with our Ignatian values and our commitment to the dignity of all people. As we work to affirm that Black Lives Matter and to encourage the true integration of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in our community, we have made significant strides in these two short months. We have:
• Developed a webinar on racial justice to be offered to faculty and staff four times this semester.
• Planned a series of structured conversations on racial issues for students to unpack their experiences of the events of the summer.
• Started to probe the College’s curriculum to determine where we have strengths and where we have opportunities to increase our curricular offerings of non-Eurocentric courses and programs. Every faculty member will take part in this analysis to determine how the curriculum will evolve to address critical issues of race and racism.
• Coordinated efforts with Anne Kearney, interim associate to the provost for Student Development, to remove elements from the celebration of Dolphy Day that can be perceived as racist.
However, these are just the first steps on our thousand mile journey. Over the course of the semester, we will continue our work. We have already planned to:
• Continue the work begun with the Provost’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion to develop and make operational a hiring process that integrates best practices for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
• Develop a comprehensive training program, with unique foci for each constituent group at Le Moyne, making sure to include best practices and to have mechanisms for accountability.
• Explore how to better integrate Academic Affairs and Student Development, as both work to increase equity and each addresses different aspects of the teaching/learning relationship.
• Create a virtual BIPOC community to engage current BIPOC students through a weekly series of events.
• Develop and embark on a multi-year plan to re-imagine available campus space to provide enriched and inclusive student experiences. This would provide a welcoming space for BIPOC and ease of access to supportive services.
I will be writing to you again in December to report on our progress on these important initiatives. To learn more about our efforts to become an anti-racist institution, visit the RJC webpage or contact the co-chairs of the committee, Tabor Fisher and Kuukua Yomepke at RacialJustice@LeMoyne.edu.
As we continue on our journey, we have faith that we will soar like eagles, that we will run without wearying, that we will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).
I am looking forward to traveling together with you,
Linda M. LeMura, Ph.D.