A MESSAGE TO THE KENT STATE COMMUNITY: ANTI-RACISM TASK FORCE; Kent State Today; September 2, 2020
Dear Kent State University Faculty, Staff and Students,
Two recent incidents involving the painting of racist messages on the Rock located on Front Campus, coupled with the series of tragic national events this year involving the shootings of Black Americans, serve as glaring evidence that this university and our country need to do better when addressing racism and violence against Black Americans.
At Kent State, our core values of respect and kindness for all demand that we step up to become part of the conversation that leads to a solution that will dismantle the systemic racism that has plagued our communities throughout history, and our university all too recently.
As an institution that promotes learning, discovery and global citizenship under the canopy of diversity, equity and peaceful coexistence, we must do more.
We must do better.
We begin that effort through the work of our new Anti-Racism Task Force, which will explore all facets of racism at Kent State. This group will begin its work with a focus on anti-Black racism and later expand to examine all areas of racism on our campuses.
This task force, which we introduce today, will work proactively and collaboratively to identify institutional and individual racism in all its forms, and to forge a clear plan of action to address racism on Kent State campuses.
Kent State has a long and storied history of supporting free speech, including the Rock. This task force’s work will further our commitment to free speech by providing a platform for open dialogue, without allowing free speech to be used as a blanket to cover the faithless shadows of racism and hate.
The task force will be led by Amoaba Gooden, interim vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion; Lamar R. Hylton, vice president for student affairs; and Melody Tankersley, interim senior vice president and provost.
The group will examine 15 areas of university life: academic curriculum; accessibility; admissions and prospective students; business practices; community engagement; faculty recruitment and retention; graduate and doctoral student life; health and well-being; learning and education; mental health support and services; policies and procedures; safety and security; staff recruitment/retention/ promotion; undergraduate student life; and educating our faculty and staff.
To accomplish its goals, the task force will invite broad representation from the campus community to serve on subcommittees to examine and document the ways in which racism has or could impede the success of our students, faculty, staff and administrators.
These groups will make recommendations on how Kent State can eliminate the challenges and barriers that Black students, faculty, staff and others have faced at the university, with the goal of becoming a more diverse, equitable and inclusive institution.
The task force’s work will be monitored and implemented by the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and we will share regular updates on the group's progress. Task force members include students, staff and administrators who represent a wide variety of groups on our campuses.
In closing, I want to offer my thanks and appreciation to those who have agreed to serve on this task force. I know their work will be challenging, and at times even uncomfortable, as we come face-to-face with our institutional flaws. But this work is vitally important, not just for our university community, but for the greater good of our nation and world.
Kent State is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Racism and bigotry have no place on our campuses, and we will not relent until all people know and experience our university community as a place that fosters respect for diversity as the only path to acceptance and peace.
WRITTEN BY: PRESIDENT TODD DIACON