The Antiracist College

February 23, 2021 / PSU-AAUP

The Chronicle of Higher Education

by Tom Bartlett

February 15, 2021

The statements from college presidents came in flurries, bullet-pointed and chock-full of promises. Most were issued last summer in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis police. There were announcements of new committees, initiatives, and task forces. There was talk of transformation, roadmaps, and “action steps.” Many nodded toward sweeping curricular reforms. The president of Duke University wrote that the institution would “assess and remediate systemic biases in the design of our curricula.” Castleton University’s president pledged a review of courses that would seek to “combat systemic racism and implicit bias.” The president of Bates College assured members of the community in bold type that there would be “structural change across the entirety of the student experience.”

Many of the actions were geared toward symbolism, including rethinking who had been historically honored. Clemson University removed the name of John C. Calhoun, who held that slavery was a “positive good,” from its honors college. Western Carolina University dropped the name of the segregationist former governor Clyde R. Hoey from an auditorium. James Madison University announced it was rechristening three campus buildings named for Confederate military leaders — though administrators did not consider renaming the university itself, despite Madison’s having owned slaves, explaining that “we recognize his flaws as well as his virtues.”

A slew of colleges declared they would require some form of diversity training. Brandeis University’s president proposed “workshops, symposia, speakers, programs, conferences, and events.” Amherst College announced it would require such training “at all levels” and “reporting annually on the form that work has taken and the difference it has made.” Lafayette College signaled that it would institute regular anti-bias training for faculty members, staff, and students in order to “keep us all engaged in ongoing and up-to-date conversations about racism and racial injustice.”

Read the full article at The Chronicle of Higher Ed

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