A Message from President Walk: Working Toward Racial Justice at MMC
Dear MMC Students, Faculty, and Staff:
The fatal shooting of a Black man, Rayshard Brooks, this past Friday—June 12, 2020—by a white police officer in Atlanta is yet another tragic example of police brutality and the pervasiveness of racism in our society. In my recent message to our campus community, I affirmed MMC’s responsibility as an institution of higher learning to confront the role of institutions in perpetuating inequality, to consciously create an inclusive community, and to interrupt racism whenever we witness it.
Although MMC has made progress toward creating a campus culture of racial justice and equity—for example, through the development of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Strategic Plan—we have fallen short far too often. Not only have we failed to honor the experiences of people of color, and Black people in particular, in our programs and services; we also know that students, faculty, staff, and alumni have endured repeated instances of racism, injustice, and discrimination perpetuated on our campus, with no apparent redress.
The current protest movement, animated by the conviction that Black Lives Matter, underscores the urgent need to dismantle structures on campus that perpetuate racism and to replace them with structures that support our efforts to create an anti-racist college with clear accountability. Below are tangible actions the College will be immediately taking toward racial justice and equity. Additional actions are currently being developed and will be announced soon.
- Expanded Diversity of the Student Body, Faculty, and Staff — MMC is a predominantly white institution composed largely of people with privilege who contribute to, and benefit from, a society that is actively failing to address the experiences of Black people and people of color generally.The College commits to making an MMC education more accessible and affordable for Black students and students of color through expanded enrollment efforts and financial assistance, and to enhancing efforts to hire and retain faculty and staff of color.
- Ongoing Faculty Development and Training — MMC and the faculty commit to ongoing development and training around race and anti-racism not only in the curricula and in pedagogical practices, but also as individuals. This will be the topic for the College’s August 2020 Faculty Workshop and work will be ongoing throughout the academic year.
- Curriculum Development— Through the Curriculum Committee, which reviews the degree requirements and the general education program, MMC and the faculty commit to strengthening and expanding the anti-racist learning experience in all academic divisions, and to identifying and implementing ways to decenter Eurocentric curricula.
- Town Halls and Public Lectures — Faculty in History, International Studies, and Politics & Human Rights recently organized a Zoom Town Hall,Bear Witness. The event was planned as part of ongoing recruitment work, but it proved to be a much-needed space for discussion. MMC commits to holding a Summer Town Hall for the entire campus community—students, faculty, and staff—and to sponsoring a robust series of Town Halls and lectures in the coming academic year and beyond for discussion, learning, and reflection.
- Greater Transparency Around Action Against Racism and Discrimination — The College has a clearNon-Discrimination Policy and will not tolerate racist behavior by any student, faculty, or staff member. MMC commits to making the procedures for reporting racist behavior, investigating reports, and sanctioning racist behavior clearer and more visible so that all members of our community can feel safe and confident in their unambiguous institutional protection against discrimination.
- Campus Safety and Security — MMC commits to maintaining the safety and security of the campus community in ways that are mindful of the historic unfair treatment of our Black and Brown communities at the hands of law enforcement, and of the unfortunate persistence and harmful effects of racial profiling.
- Methods for Tracking Progress — For change to be real and lasting, the College must be held accountable. MMC commits to developing and sharing specific metrics to track progress and help ensure the effectiveness of our efforts.
Above all, MMC commits to listening, learning, and aspiring to become an anti-racist college. We do not have every answer, and we will not always get it right, but we can and must do better at fostering racial justice and equity at MMC. As we work to effect deep and enduring change, I am grateful to be part of a community of determined individuals who see our actions as essential to our mission as an institution of higher learning.
Kerry Walk, Ph.D.