Anti-Racism Statement and Demands
We would like to acknowledge that this is a working document that will grow and evolve, as we grow, evolve, and learn. The Anti-Racism Taskforce and the Advising and Career Services (ACS) community welcomes all feedback, questions, or concerns regarding these demands, or other practices. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anti-Black racism is a “system of beliefs and practices that attack, erode, and limit the humanity of Black people” (Carruthers, 2018, p. 26). Anti-Black racism is deeply ingrained in every facet of our nation, including our Higher Education system and thus pervades all aspects of the system and culture of Portland State University. Higher Education was not conceptualized with Black Folx in mind; it was made for a mostly homogenous group of white, middle class, Christian men (Green, 2020). Though we have certainly progressed from the colonial college, the foundations still remain in our curriculum, our support systems, our funding models, and our faculty and staff. PSU is no different, but can show itself to be a leader in tackling the indoctrination of white supremacy in our education system. While we are focusing now on anti-Black racism, we are also doing so with the knowledge that Anti-Black racism impacts Indigenous Folx and other People of Color; this work will lay a foundation allowing us to transition to a more holistic approach that combats institutionalized racism and oppression wherever it appears.
Historically, PSU has created a facade of commitment to Black students, staff, and faculty under the guise of 'diversity and equity.’ The reality is that Black students, faculty, and staff are not supported and are hurting. Black first-time, full-time Freshman students are graduating at a rate of only 40% in six-years, and it is not because of low academic achievement (Jackson et al., 2017, p. 10-12). In Fall 2016 only 2.9% of university employees were Black identified and only 4 Black identified faculty members held continuous appointments; and this number has been declining (Jackson et al., 2017, p. 37). Clearly, at a school that touts itself to be a haven for Black students, faculty, and staff, much work needs to be done to earn this moniker. Black faculty, staff, and students want “to be present, visible, feel welcome, and be whole in [their] work at this university” (Jackson et al., 2017, p.35). Though we as an institution have failed in amplifying Black voices and responding to the needs of Black staff, faculty, and students, we are poised with an opportunity to initiate real change and respond to the needs of our community.
This is an opportunity to prevent additional trauma and to support Black wellness and Black lives, rather than pay lip service to the values we purport to uphold. This is a call to action. Black people are still fighting for their lives and as advocates, we need to fight alongside them and, when necessary, for them. So many of us carry a multitude of different privileges. With these privileges comes power. We need to use this power to support our Black faculty, staff, students, friends, neighbors, loved ones, and the folx around the world we don't know but who deserve to live unburdened by racism. This means decentering whiteness, amplifying Black voices, and collectively using our knowledge, skills, abilities, and privilege to mitigate harm and continued racial trauma.
What follows is an abridged list of demands directed at ourselves. View the full document.
We demand that you are anti-racist.
We demand from ourselves, our colleagues, our leadership, and the university to properly support anti-racist efforts and the dismantling of white supremacy within academia and campus life, including, but not limited to, financial support, dedicated salaried time, and the ability to listen to and uplift the voices of BIPOC students, faculty, and staff, throughout the process.
As part of this Task Force’s commitment to listening to and uplifting the voices of Black students, faculty, and staff, who have been speaking out against oppression for years, the first section of our demands are in direct response to recommendations made by the African American Black African Task Force Report (Jackson et al., 2017). We thank the authors for the tremendous amount of work they put into the report and for carving a path for us to address anti-Black racism and white supremacy on campus and in Advising and Career Services.
“Academic advisors [career counselors and ACS staff] must have a level of cultural competency that can assist them when helping students of color navigate the university” (Jackson et al., 2017, p. 14).
- Sponsor and attend trainings specifically devoted to equity for BIPOC communities and dedicated to anti-racism continued education and require all other trainings be approached from an anti-racist lens and decolonized perspective
- Form partnerships with faculty/professionals to consult with ACS, while compensating these partners fairly for their labor
- Create and sustain spaces and resource libraries to learn from Black scholarship and examine how anti-Black racism manifests in our work
“Increase advising [and counseling] capacity, revitalize systems and improve the visibility of student support services” (Jackson et al., 2017, p. 16).
- Refine the ACS Mission statement to include anti-racist sentiment and a commitment to educational justice
- Partner with Office of Academic Affairs to review prior student surveys and develop an ACS-specific survey to engage with BIPOC students
- Add an anti-racism accountability question to post-appointment surveys
Gather “course offerings focusing on the Black experience, campus events, etc.” (Jackson et al., 2017, p. 16).
- Identify coursework in each term that focuses on the Black experience to share across campus
- Petition Academic Affairs to survey students on their classroom experience in order to identify and catalog teachers designing anti-racism into their curriculum
- Collaborate with the Black Studies Department (and later the School of Gender, Race, & Nations) to identify courses suited for Academic Professionals to take
“We recommend an increased effort to hire more Black staff as professional academic advisors [and career center staff]... Black students have few to no academic advisors that look like them in their fields of study or university-wide” (Jackson et al., 2017, p. 27).
- Partner with Human Resources to change ACS job descriptions to include a requirement of “having experience applying an anti-racist lens in work with students, faculty, and staff”
- Require that the role of Associate Vice Provost commits to furthering anti-racism as one of their highest values, with continuity in the efforts listed here and those yet to be borne from this work
- Require search committees to advertise open positions with specific outreach to BIPOC communities to ensure that at least 25% of our applicant pool consists of underrepresented populations (Guiterrez, Y. 2020, p. 19)
- Develop specific and objective evaluation metrics for discerning DEI skills in a candidate’s resume, cover letter, and in each interview question that is answered (Jackson et al., 2017, p. 38)
“All people involved in hiring, whether a single manager or a committee of faculty, must have training on diversity, equity, and inclusion in hiring” (Jackson et al., 2017, p. 38).
- Require all members of ACS hiring committees to attend training on inclusive hiring practices and take Harvard’s Implicit Bias test before participating in the hiring process
In addition to the actionable steps listed above, we recognize a need for an overarching culture shift in our unit and our work, which requires the commitment of our Leadership Team and broad accountability measures.
- Support staff engagement in anti-racist education/training and action with dedicated time, funds, and system-level review of operations and practices
- Find training opportunities for staff and encourage attendance
- Create individualized plans with their Pathways to engage with anti-racism resources, with a view to the Pathways’ practices
- Design accountability questions to be included in annual staff evaluations that set goals and success markers for working with an anti-racist lens in the employee’s performance/responsibilities
- Undergo yearly DEI assessments centering on anti-Black racism in order to best understand how our unit currently stands and to review our progress
- Inform students of the work being done by ACS and invite students to engage in the work with us
- Share actions of ACS to dismantle white supremacy with the larger campus community including Directors, Deans, the Provost and the President
- Acknowledge when we - as a division, as leadership, and/or as a taskforce - make mistakes, which we undoubtedly will, that we publicly recognize our mistakes and include actions we are taking to remedy those mistakes