Letter of Solidarity to our Black Students

0

Dear IAS students,

We first want to apologize for our delay in getting this message to you. Please do not take our silence as inaction on our part.

From the first ship bringing enslaved people in 1619, to the Colfax, Louisiana massacre in 1873, to the burning of Tulsa this week in 1921, to the police murder of Amadou Diallo in New York in 1999, to Ferguson in 2014, and so many more, state violence with impunity against Black people is everywhere in US history. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd,Tony McCade, David McAtee. There are so many more names before these that should also be named out loud, exemplifying the Call to Action initiated by the Black students at the Seattle campus, the change.org petition signed by students, faculty, and staff throughout the UW, and the ongoing pain of the Black community, our Black students, our Black faculty, and our Black staff.

We are deeply troubled by the continued police brutality within the Black community and the overwhelming pain this community is continuing to experience, further compounded by a global pandemic. As a School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, we are very much aware of how systems of oppression continue to impact the lives of our Black students. These past few days have unveiled, for many for the first time, the systemic and institutional inequities within the US, inequities that many of you are well aware of from your classes and lived experiences but, too often, those in positions of power have chosen to ignore. In IAS, our mission is committed to “recogniz[ing], reflect[ing], and challeng[ing] unequal relations of power and privilege…[and] as part of a public university, we seek to build an inclusive and just community of students, faculty, and staff.” We stand with our Black students, and vow to continue to show up for you and to do better by you.

In response to the current unrest and trauma, IAS faculty are working hard to address how to best serve all of you in your courses during this time. We understand trauma cannot be simply put aside or ignored and we want to ensure that each of us can help you complete this quarter successfully. We met yesterday to talk about how to finish the quarter while minimizing harm and enabling your success.  Faculty will be reaching out to their classes to discuss how they are addressing Chancellor Yeigh’s call to help all of you during this moment. We are taking his words urging flexibility seriously as we enter the final week of spring quarter.

We know that this movement does not end just because the academic quarter or year comes to a close. We are aware that words must also be followed by actions. As we look toward the summer and the 2020-21 academic year, please know that IAS faculty and staff will be working on how to be more inclusive and better serve our diverse student body, which includes curriculum, academic services, soliciting student input, critical reflection on our current structure and practices, and anti-bias training.

As we do this work, we will be as transparent with you as we can about the steps we are taking to better support you. In order for us to foster an inclusive educational environment, we must also learn how to show up for you in these spaces. We will work hard to understand and educate ourselves about how we as a school can use our power and privilege as we collectively work toward socially-just change within IAS, UW Bothell, and beyond.

Black Lives Matter. Your lives matter. We hear you. We see you. And we will show up for you.

In solidarity,

Janelle M. Silva, Associate Dean of Diversity and Equity
Raissa DeSmet, Chair of IAS Diversity Committee
Eva Navarijo, Director of Undergraduate Student Services and Advising
Miriam Bartha, Director of IAS Graduate Programs

On behalf of IAS Faculty and Staff, with special thanks to Camille Walsh (in-coming Faculty Council Chair) and Ashley Velazquez for their critical feedback.