The recent anti-Black violence in multiple communities across the US has made visible to all who see the images the ugly and deeply rooted racism that has long marred our society. Further evidence of this systemic problem can be seen in racist acts against Asians and Asian Americans over the past months made under the pretext of the coronavirus.
Such attitudes and behaviors have no place in our community. Out of all institutions in society, universities need to be ones where differences are welcomed and respected. It is through exploring our differences – whether those differences stem from different perspectives, experiences, or thoughts – that we learn. In society at large, racism and discrimination are the causes of misery, distress, and inequity for too many people and have been so for too long. On university campuses, these injustices undermine the very purpose of the institution itself.
A thriving community in which differences are valued and embraced does not simply happen – it has to be built. Plainly we need to keep building, not just in society at large but also here on campus. As we see and recoil at the images of injustice elsewhere, it is worth remembering that we, too, have work to do. But the goal of building a community where difference is valued is surely worth it, and here at UC Riverside we have not just the responsibility but also the opportunity to build the kind of community we want to see.
We would say to all students at this difficult time and especially to members of our community who are African American: you belong here. This is your community. Your presence makes UCR a better institution. And your lives matter.
To make this commitment more concrete, we will continue to work with the campus, and especially the GSA Diversity and Inclusion Academic Liaison, to seek ways to support training that addresses racism and bias in the recruitment process of students and faculty. We will continue to help raise awareness of anti-racist and diversity-affirming resources in order for members of our community to learn about these systemic issues for themselves and communicate them to students and peers. And this coming year, we will work with GSA to set up a Graduate Division student advisory group to help us recognize and address problems of campus climate for graduate students moving forward.
We would welcome your input.
This is a difficult time, but it is also a time where our choices can make the future better and fairer, for all members of our community rather than just a few.
Shaun Bowler, Dean, Graduate Division
Emma Wilson, Associate Dean, Graduate Division
Ertem Tuncel, Association Dean, Graduate Division