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Michigan State University

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2020-07-09

Our Commitments and Actions

Dear JMC Alumni, students, and friends of the College,

We appreciate your letters and efforts to hold James Madison College accountable for advancing racial equity in the college. We recognize that the academy has been riven by policies and practices that disadvantage People of Color.  We acknowledge the need for progress to meet the educational needs of all our current and future community members.  While there are many changes that need to be made and we are committed to further efforts through ongoing dialogue, below are immediate commitments from the College’s leadership.

We the undersigned administrators are committed to creating a learning environment in which students can thrive as scholars and human beings.  As such, the College is taking steps to combat systemic racism and the perpetuation of whiteness and to probe how it can best support Students of Color, especially Black students.  This will be a continuous effort that will take time to make positive change.  We pledge to fully engage in this process, listening to the voices of all Madisonians, while taking our lead from students, staff, faculty, and alumni of color as we work to combat racism and advance an anti-racist agenda within our college.

  • To help build an educationally inclusive, anti-racist institution, the College will sponsor workshops and support faculty in considering ways to revise the curriculum and course materials.
  • The College is planning to provide DEI-related professional development for faculty and staff. Specifically, we are working with the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives (OIII) on anti-racism, inclusive curricula and dialogue workshops for faculty and staff for the 2020-2021 academic year.
  • We are working to enhance the diversity of the student body through more intentional recruiting and retention efforts.  Specifically, to better attract students from minoritized backgrounds, particularly Students of Color, we are working with the MSU Admissions Office to help ensure that we are able to recruit a diverse student body, across race, ethnicity, gender and religion. 
  • We are working with Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) to provide expanded mental health support, particularly for Students of Color dealing with racial trauma
  • We are initiating a development campaign to seek support for scholarships that assist students from marginalized communities (e.g., the Alumni Diversity Scholarship Endowment, Cummings Scholarship Endowment), the Curtis Stokes Endowment for Black Radical Thought, and expanded DEI programming.

These efforts will build on ongoing and recently established Madison programming, which we plan to maintain:

  • Offering LIVE IT! @ JMC - diversity and civility workshop for incoming, JMC students
  • Continuing the Madison Academic Diversity Initiative (MADI) for first year students
  • Continuing the MADI Faculty Mentorship Program
  • Expanding the First Year Mentor Program to all incoming, first-year students in JMC
  • Partnering with Case Hall residential staff on diversity programming 
  • Revisiting the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University (when travel is permitted)
  • Sponsoring the MLK Advancing Research Through Inclusion Award (in partnership with residential colleges)
  • Organizing the 3rd Annual Social Justice Art Festival (in partnership with the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities)
  • Helping to organize the biannual RACE Conference (on hiatus in 2020-21 due to COVID)
  • Hosting ‘Speak About It’, a program focused on healthy relationships and sexual assault prevention (on hiatus for fall 2020 due to COVID)
  • Continuing the Madison Diversity Leadership Program (on hiatus in 2020-21 due to COVID)
  • Finalizing arrangements for the new Steven O. Murray Endowment, which will allow the College to annually host a visiting scholar-in-residence who will teach and engage in research on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) issues. The initial call will prioritize a scholar whose work addresses issues of intersectionality.

The administration of James Madison College is also committed to accountability and transparency. Several years ago, the College established a College Inclusion Committee (CIC), and last year it created a draft document of college community norms and values that will go forward to various college stakeholders in the fall 2020 semester. These norms and values will form the basis for a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Strategic Plan that is both sustainable and flexible to the context of our college. The College’s DEI Plan will lay out a strategic agenda of action items, with benchmarks, deadlines, and measurable outcomes to meet the college’s goals. We will post relevant information on the College’s website where it can be readily accessed so that our progress can be monitored (e.g., faculty and student demographics by race, gender, and ethnicity, demographics of incoming students, and persistence and graduation rates of current Madison students, details of co-curricular programming and staff/faculty trainings, curricular innovations, and the extent of Black and minoritized individuals’ opportunities throughout the College.)

Further, we should note that thanks to the work of the MSU community, including Madison students, staff, and faculty, all MSU students and employees will be required to complete DEI training annually, in addition to annual Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct (RVSM) training, beginning in the fall 2020 semester. This training is mandatory and in addition to the DEI-related professional development opportunities for faculty and staff mentioned above.  

Finally, after the summer break, we plan to engage in reconsideration of the name of the College. The latter will need to incorporate the perspectives of students, staff, faculty, and alumni. If these groups should support a name change, we would then proceed through the University governance process.

During this time, feedback from faculty, staff, students, and alumni is necessary to move forward. As requested, we will be meeting with the W.E.B. DuBois Society leadership on July 15, to hear their concerns and identify action items related to enhancing the experience of Black students in our college.  We are also meeting with faculty and staff from the other residential colleges to explore the development of anti-racism co-curricular certificate/training, which would help place Madison and the other residential colleges at the forefront of diversity efforts for students. For updates on our efforts and activities, please see jmc.msu.edu/diversity.

We are determined to make a sustainable difference in our college community. We welcome the efforts of anyone who is interested in supporting and investing in our students, staff, and faculty of color and in making the College a diverse, inclusive, and equitable institution.

 

Linda Racioppi, Interim Dean

Jeff Judge, Assistant Dean

Amber Benton, Director of Diversity Programming and Student Engagement