In response to recent racial events and to demonstrate Meredith College’s desire to play its part in the Black Lives Matter movement, President Jo Allen recently announced that she is initiating a college-wide initiative on race and action. She said, “As an alumna and president of a women’s college, I am well aware of the biases that hold women back. Now is our opportunity to do more thoughtful work on how biases hold back–and even endanger–people of color.”
“I also know racism in America is not a current problem; it has been simmering and erupting since our nation’s founding,” Allen wrote in a message announcing the initiative. “George Floyd is our most recent loss, but so many others have suffered violence or died in startlingly similar scenarios. It is time to do something to make change happen, starting here at Meredith as we work for more change throughout our state, nation, and world.”
President Allen has invited members of the Black Student Union to meet with her and other members of the administration, faculty, and staff about how to improve the experiences of Black students at Meredith. Other students, as well as employees and alumnae/i, will be included to talk about their own experiences with race here.
The first step will be a campus climate survey, which will provide data and information of how people live, work, and interact at Meredith.
“Research on diversity and inclusion shows that a campus climate survey is the best way to give power to impactful anecdotal stories; results will demonstrate how widespread and in what fashion injustices exist and how we can recognize, own, and work through those injustices to become the human beings we need to be,” Allen said.
The campus climate survey will inform what form the initiative on race and action will take.
“The lives of Black and Brown people matter, tremendously, to Meredith and to me. Our campus community is richer and stronger because of our students, faculty, staff, and alumnae of color,” Allen said. “We want to be sure this initiative is thoughtful, inclusive, and impactful in ways that take us toward healing. We do not need quick fixes; we know from centuries of experience that they do not work. The complexities of race and experience are deep; we must invest the time and resources—and our hearts—to do this work well.”
Meredith’s vice presidents, their direct reports, and President Allen will also continue participating in the diversity and inclusion workshop series that started in 2019-20.
“While we do not always share the same experiences, I do believe the Meredith College community will coalesce on a pathway for moving toward openness and justice,” Allen said. “I also believe that it is imperative that we address inequalities in thoughtful ways that express the pain, produce meaningful change, and, ultimately, help heal.”