An Open Letter to the Central Michigan University Community:
Our university community continues to respond to the brutal murder of George Floyd in the context of similar killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and the threat to Christian Cooper. They are clear examples, among so horribly many, of the ongoing climate of public racial violence in the U.S., including that directed at the sovereign indigenous nations within U.S. borders.
Many of our students, faculty and staff, including our campus and Mount Pleasant police departments, are participating in protests and marches. I take heart in seeing many in our community united against injustice.
In the past few days, a number of groups and individuals have reached out to ask what they can do to help and what tangible steps they can take to become more educated, engaged and supportive. We can all play a role in rooting out white supremacy in our culture and ending the racial violence, both overtly physical and personally threatening, in our midst.
An essential and accessible first step is to examine your own beliefs. We all see the world through the lens of our experiences, and we form opinions based on what we have seen and have been taught over our lifetimes. I encourage you to take an Implicit Bias test and reflect on what you learn. All people are socialized with biases, and knowing about them in ourselves helps us control and manage them.
Next, I recommend completing CMU’s online Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awareness program. Although this workshop was designed for students, there are valuable messages and exercises included that can benefit any participant. As you move through the program, you will also find valuable video and written tools under the resources tab to consider and share.
Then, have a conversation. Ask questions. Some feel it can be “difficult” to talk about topics such as race, diversity and inclusion, but those conversations help to build bridges of understanding between people. Our campus and social climates are actually made much more difficult when we fail to address the dynamics that destroy our spirits, our relationships and our lives. Here are some facilitation guidelines that may help you get started. You also can take an intergroup dialogue course or participate in activities sponsored by CMU’s Institute for Transformative Dialogue.
I also I invite you to watch the video sessions from this year’s Diversity Symposium. When you do, I hope you will take our survey, share your thoughts on the workshops and submit suggestions for other topics you would like to explore in future events.
If you were unable to register for the virtual Voices that Matter forum on Black Lives Matter, you can still watch the video online. You also can listen to a previous panel conversation about the impact of COVID-19 on the Black Community and a valuable discussion of the anti-Asian climate that is part of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Knowledge is a powerful tool for combatting ignorance. CMU Libraries’ Diversity Resources page offers a well-organized, curated list of resources, including books and online publications, and links to other sources for diversity-related issues and topics.
Every member of our campus and community is invited to attend events hosted by CMU’s Office of Diversity Education, such as Conversations that Matter and Soup and Substance, as well as celebrations and activities hosted by offices in the CMU Center for Inclusion and Diversity. When it is safe to do so again, we will resume hosting events and activities regularly.
Staff performance evaluations now include annual goals related to learning, training and development in diversity, equity and inclusion. I encourage staff, as well as students and faculty members, to review these, thinking about your own actions, needs and behavior. Now is a good time to begin exploring available workshops, events and training activities available to you.
Finally, familiarize yourself with resources available at CMU by visiting the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at CMU website. It’s a great starting point to learn more about our campus wide initiatives; our participation in national grant programs; ongoing projects in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion; and more.
This is a time of mourning and loss. Let us reach out and support one another, express concern and care, and resolve to continue our efforts in honor and tribute to those who are no longer with us.
We know it can be done. This is the time of year when the Mount Pleasant community holds the annual ceremonies of “Honoring, Healing, and Remembering” in an ongoing process of recovery from the cultural violence against the indigenous people of mid-Michigan. Communities can come together, united in grief and remembrance, to promote justice and racial equality.
If you have additional questions or would like to share your thoughts or concerns, we are here to support you. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 989-774-3700.
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer
Central Michigan University