In the past couple of weeks, the Diversity Committee and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Re-Entry Committee, Sarah Sarber, and Dr. Davis have worked with me to draft the campus statement below, but more importantly plan action steps for the future. I want to thank them for their collaboration and thoughtful discussion. I look forward to moving our campus forward in these challenging and important times.
In recent weeks, we have been tragically reminded of the impacts systemic racism and injustice continue to have in our country. We mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery, while we also acknowledge that these are but the most recent of many blatant acts of racism and violence against African Americans and other people of color in the United States. We must commit ourselves and our campus community to being a part of the change we want to see. Collectively, we can do better. As we work as a Community of Care to recover from the COVID – 19 pandemic and find our “new normal”, we cannot ignore that many members of our community are traumatized and hurting, especially our African American colleagues and students. We encourage everyone to reach out and check-in, offer support to one another, and provide a listening ear and compassion.
We must all be a part of the solution and not just acknowledge that another bad thing has happened. To this end, we are committed to launching the IU Kokomo Multicultural Network which will house our Hispanic Student Center: Latinos Unidos and International Student Services. We are planning to start the African American Student Center to provide support and opportunities for engagement for our African American students. We will also be starting an LGBTQ+ Center, which will support our LGBTQ+ students, allies, and initiatives. We are working now to make sure that as much of the Multicultural Network as possible is open and staffed when students return to campus this fall. In short, we reaffirm our commitment to the inclusion of all.
We will also be hosting a Town Hall Meeting later this summer to address issues of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We encourage everyone to take part in this event. We must engage in thoughtful dialogue, seeking to understand diverse perspectives, and demonstrating respect for everyone if we hope to begin healing. Through this interaction, we hope we can all find ways to come together as a community and truly make a difference in this fight against hate and racism. This will be the first in a series of Town Hall Meetings throughout the year to help our campus and surrounding communities have thoughtful dialogues on issues that impact all of us. Additional information will be forthcoming with dates and registration for each event.
We will also be taking steps to start a Multicultural Faculty Staff Council for the IU Kokomo community. Through this initiative, we hope to provide a greater level of support, both personal and professional for our diverse employees.
Plans will be ongoing for training and programming for students and employees. We hope that each of you will commit to take part in these important learning opportunities. We must all be open to learning more, and doing our best to be part of the solution.
As noted in our campus Civility Statement, we must continue to encourage a climate of respect and inclusiveness that welcomes and embraces community members with diverse backgrounds and life experiences; deliberately seeks multiple perspectives; and supports the free and open exchange of ideas and civil discourse.
We are committed to putting our energy and resources to this most important work. We know as a campus, as a community and as a country, we can do better. We see the passion in which our younger generations are calling for change, and we are committed to making sure every generation of the Indiana University Kokomo community finds their way to contribute to change. Please continue to take care of your colleagues and yourself. We are here for you. We care about you. We are looking forward to working on these issues with you when we return to campus this Fall.
This statement is endorsed by the IU Kokomo Diversity Committee and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Re-Entry Committee.