Racism and racial violence has unfortunately been a part of our history since our country was founded. Recent tragedies include the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. That these incidents continue to happen in 2020 should trouble and disturb us all.
Through the #BlackAtMoState hashtag, our current and former students share their accounts of racism experienced while they were on campus. I read these social media posts and I have asked members of our board and leadership team to read them as well.
Missouri State University works to resist racism. We aspire to make our campus a place where everyone feels welcome regardless of their race, sex, sexual orientation, sexual preference, gender identity, disability, religion, political affiliation or other characteristic.
While we have made significant progress, we have not always lived up to that goal. We must do better.
Improving the climate
This year we will continue to work to improve the campus climate and combat bias on our campus. Our leadership team is developing specific action items for this year. Examples include:
- We will refocus our Bias Response Team and provide the team with stronger tools to intervene and address bias involving race or another protected class.
- We will design a facility expansion of the Multicultural Resource Center.
- We will expand our cultural consciousness and competence training. The expanded training will include curricular modifications, participation by the university leadership team in the Facing Racism Institute, creating a Student Diversity Leadership Institute for student leaders, and increasing other cultural consciousness educational opportunities for faculty, staff and students.
- We will improve access, retention and graduate rates of underrepresented students through Bears L.E.A.D., TRIO, college access programs, Jump START, and NASPA’s First-gen Forward and First Scholars Network.
- We will add new and expand existing recruitment and retention strategies for underrepresented faculty and staff. We track the percentage of our faculty and staff that are underrepresented. That percentage has increased over the past several years. We will work to continue that trend in the coming year.
- We will review and modify policies and procedures to ensure equal opportunity throughout the university system. We have already begun this process by establishing a test-optional admission pathway for prospective students.
- We will continue to develop and enhance our partnerships with HBCUs, the National Black Graduate Students Association, the Student African American Brotherhood and the Diversity Talent Hub program.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org any suggestions you have for diversity, equity and inclusion action items that you would like to see included in this year’s action plan. We will present this plan to the Board of Governors in September.
Thanks for all you do for Missouri State!