LMU has made an institutional priority of its anti-racism work, with “anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion” as one of three central commitments— along with “innovation and adaptability,” and “extending our reach beyond the bluff” — that will guide LMU’s next strategic plan (2021-26). These priorities, once approved by the Board of Trustees, will help steer our decisions, allocation of resources and measures of success. This is a big deal and reflects the sober-minded determination of our campus community to transform our institution.
But, what kind of challenge does this represent for us as an institution, when we, as a country, have historically been embedded in systems and structures that were created to reinforce racism, hierarchies based on race? When it means that the status quo supports these racial hierarchies? To fight against this societal current, grooved deeply into our realities throughout our history, requires sustained, proactive efforts, or anti-racist practices, to contribute towards change. For a better world. And a transformed university.
Soon we will begin the process of putting flesh on the bones of our plan, specifying in concrete detail how we will implement our goals and objectives, through defining our outcomes, timelines, and actions. We are going to need the consultation, critique, demands, and feedback of our campus community, including student groups, faculty, staff, and administrative leaders, to help us set high standards and achievable goals. To address anti-racism within our implementation process will mean confronting what needs to be unlearned, de-centered, and re-visioned. This will require boldness and vulnerability, along with humility and openness, as we strive for a more just and inclusive vision of excellence. Along the way, we may encounter unexpected gifts like inspiration, through discovering new ways of seeing and being in the world with others, and connection, through finding that authenticity and solidarity also feed relationships and community. So too, joy can and will emerge in the midst of struggle.
We measure our success as an institution in three areas, corresponding to the commitments made by our president in his June 2020 message, Beyond Words: hiring; climate and culture; and education.
Hiring: Who will be included and supported as part of our community, so that we reflect the diversity and richness of the world around us?
Climate and Culture: How will we cultivate the kind of climate and culture needed to create the educational experience we want for all our students?
Education: What will this education look like for our students, so that we engage critically with our disciplinary canons in the context of global realities, racism, and other expressions of oppression?
These are the questions we are facing in this moment as we examine our long-held assumptions, our socialization, and our practices in higher education.
We have already started engaging this work, even as we recognize we are part of the institutions and society we want to change. Last week, we recognized some of this work in our virtual forum, The LMU Anti-Racism Project: Year 1 Report and Reflection. This event, however, captured only a small portion of the over 75 units on campus which have taken up this challenge through a process of unit-level reflection, or systemic analysis, this year. You can view brief presentations of the work of 21 of these units (and counting), sharing their learning with others through report-out sessions. If you are curious about how units are approaching this process, you can also check out their progress reports on our accountability page. Yes, it is hard work, but it is “good trouble.” And all of it—the challenge, messiness, joy, connection, and transformation—is the work of anti-racism. We are in it now.
- Cultural Consciousness Conversations has impacted many staff, administrators, and faculty in the LMU community so far. Cindy Archer, former Clinical Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Clinical Programs and Experiential Education at LMU Loyola Law School, shared her reflection of the inaugural cohort:
“It has been a privilege to have a space to engage with issues that are so deeply personal to who I am, how I identify and how I exist. I experience these issues every day but am not often given the time and space to reflect and more importantly to see how others are experiencing my presence and their own. Generally, we think about existing for the students’ education, but times like this make me realize what a privilege it is to be a part of an academic institution, especially one with Jesuit values, where learning and care for the whole person is celebrated at all levels.”
Join the 2021-22 CCC cohort and connect with a group of LMU community members through impactful dialogues on difference. Fill out an interest form and we will contact you with further information.
- In Six Words is a campus-wide campaign and part of the LMU Anti-Racism Project. Submit a six word story on a variety of topics such as fighting racism, hope, allyship, pride, womanism, and immigration (to name a few). In sharing our stories and reading about others’ viewpoints and experiences, we hope to bridge gaps in communication and understanding, promote empathy, and build a stronger LMU community. View the current stories and submit your own
This week, we highlight a six word story from Erica Privott, assistant director of Engineering, Science & Tech Professions in Career and Professional Development and co-lead of the Black Faculty and Staff Association:
“How much longer will we wait?”
Erica says: Reflecting on this last year, hearing deeper stories from my parents, aunts and uncles experiences growing up during the civil rights movement, watching and reading more and more documentaries and articles of my ancestors continued struggle for freedom and human rights, each era received the same response from white America and the government: Wait, just be patient. If not then, and not now, when? How much longer are we supposed to wait? No more words. Actions are vital for change.