COLLEGE-WIDE INITIATIVE

ON ANTI-RACISM

ANTI-RACISM INITIATIVE

Meredith College is working to address the racism that is affecting BIPOC students, faculty, staff, and alumnae who are valued and respected members of our community. This effort will be inclusive, action oriented, and root focused.

To that end, in June 2020, President Jo Allen announced a college-wide initiative on anti-racism. This effort, inspired and informed by Meredith’s Black Student Union, Latinx students, alumnae/i, and many more, is being conducted with transparency to reflect our commitment to strength, integrity, and effecting change through education.

BECAUSE BLACK AND BROWN LIVES MATTER. 

ACTION STEPS

Action 1

  • Current students, employees, and alumnae/i have shared their stories with us. To guide our work to facilitate change, we will conduct a campus climate survey that will be an anonymous platform for providing feedback and a means for action.
  • We will hire a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant to support this and resulting efforts. 


Current Status

A diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant has been hired and is helping to guide the College’s efforts.

The full results of the campus climate survey, originally due at the end of February, were delayed and received in mid-March.

Meredith’s Research, Planning and Assessment (RPA) office is preparing a report that will be provided to the Executive Leadership Team and the committee that is working on the job description for the DEI professional. A summary report of the survey results will be released before the end of the spring 2021 semester.

An exploratory committee is researching job descriptions for a diversity, equity, and inclusion professional. This committee will recommend the key elements of such a position, in coordination with the findings of the campus climate survey, to a formal search committee and will include the input of current students, faculty, staff, and alumnae. 

Action 2

  • We will review and emphasize student and employee handbooks for clear expectations of behavior regarding race.
  • We will examine and update traditions, marketing materials, and other practices and documents to better reflect our commitment to anti-racism, equity, and inclusion. 
  • We will incorporate lessons of race throughout the curriculum.
  • We will provide anti-racism and microaggression training for faculty and staff.
  • We will establish guidelines for equitable treatment of all students in the classroom and all employees in the workplace, along with clear processes and consequences for those who defy them.
  • We will set guidelines for equitable treatment of all students through the honor code, traditions, recruiting, financial aid, housing, and more.
  • We will review HR policies and practices for recruiting, hiring, evaluating, and dismissal.

 

Current Status

  • The Executive Leadership Team completed the Racial Equity Institute’s two-day Phase 1 workshop, which is designed to further develop participants’ understanding of racism in its institutional and structural forms.
  • Meredith leadership coordinated and funded opportunities for 93 employees to participate in REI’s Groundwater training. 
  • A student-focused group on student conduct, the honor code, residence life, and other aspects of the student experience and experiences with racism has been formed and begun its work.
  • Pam Galloway, Meredith’s director of human resources, has begun leading a review of Meredith’s recruiting and hiring practices and evaluating them for inclusivity; reviewing the employee handbook for clear processes for reporting incidents of racism or bias; and outlining consequences for employees who exhibit racist behaviors.
  • We have launched a series of anti-racism discussion groups for faculty and staff; these discussion groups are being led by Meredith faculty and staff.
  • Sarah Roth, dean of Arts and Humanities, has worked with several faculty and staff members to compile a list of anti-racism resources that are available on our intranet, MyMeredith.
  • Efforts to diversify the academic experience include revising our music history curriculum to include a global music component and more marginalized musicians; ongoing workshops aimed at decolonizing syllabi; and the School of Arts and Humanities year-long Common Experience theme “Belonging” will highlight the collective experience of marginalized students and steps to achieve greater belonging for all members of the Meredith community.
  • In August 2020, Faculty Staff Planning Week focused on educating faculty and staff, with a keynote presentation on cultural humility and breakout sessions that focused on different aspects of structural racism, white privilege, and racial equity.
  • In 2019-20, members of the Administrative Management Council participated in a year-long series of workshops focused on diversity and inclusion.
  • Meredith’s previous work to change practices in recruiting students and employees, awarding financial assistance, diversifying the curriculum, broadening student organizations and their missions, and more all lay the foundation for the current initiative.

Action 3

  • Meredith is working with other institutions in pursuing the truth of their histories through the Universities Studying Slavery initiative. This group of scholars is working not only to understand history and its contexts, but also seeks to understand and dismantle the ways that racism continues to work in higher education.

    Current Status

    • Meredith has joined an initiative comprising approximately 60 other institutions.
    • The Marketing Department, Archives staff, and History Department revised the College timeline to present a more comprehensive picture of its history, one that includes the contributions of students, faculty, staff, and alumnae of color.

Action 4

Meredith, like many other institutions throughout the country, is weighing what should be done about individuals who have made positive contributions to their university but also may have a history of racism.

Current Status

  • Board leaders created a Task Force on Historical Context and Naming at Meredith to develop a series of principles to lead the Meredith Board of Trustees through these conversations and decisions. The Task Force began its work on August 12, 2020.

  • The Board-led Task Force on Historical Context and (Re)naming at Meredith has concluded its work, resulting in some guidelines for moving forward with the next steps in this important process. The Task Force’s work shows great sensitivity to the impact of context and (re)naming of buildings at Meredith. Based on the work of the Task Force, honorees will be considered holistically, with both positive and negative aspects of their legacy taken into account. 

  • The 16-member Task Force was led by the Board of Trustees’ Chair Carolyn Leith, ’85, and Vice Chair Dr. Yvette Brown, ’90, and included other trustees, faculty, staff, and alumnae, who represented a variety of races, ethnicities, genders, and ages.

  • The Task Force provided the information gathered to the full Board, and the Executive Committee of the Board will develop a rubric of characteristics to apply to the historical context of those for whom buildings at Meredith are named. We anticipate this work to occur throughout the spring semester, with results being offered to the full Board at its Spring or early Summer meeting.

  • Any decision to rename a building at Meredith is entirely at the discretion of the Board of Trustees.

NEWS

CAMPUS PARTNERS

Meredith College values diversity in all its forms and recognizes the richness that those diversities create within our learning environment.