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October 7, 2020
Our Watts College community remains deeply concerned about our faculty, staff and students of color. The killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the shooting of Jacob Blake are tragedies that underscore the need to grapple with the ever-present legacy of racism, white supremacy and discrimination in our nation. The violence against Black and Indigenous communities must end. We mobilize now with a renewed sense of urgency to advance racial justice in our local communities and the nation. We stand in solidarity with our Black faculty, staff and students and affirm that Black Lives Matter.
We recognize that we must examine ourselves with a sense of immediacy, understanding that it is our responsibility to identify and eradicate any policies or practices of the college that have created inequities due to our action (or inaction) for groups that face disadvantage as a result of systemic racism.
Based on recommendations from our Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) — a standing committee that helps the college to realize its vision by formulating coordinated actions and initiatives to address diversity, equity and fairness — we are providing a list of actions we will be taking immediately to advance anti-racist practices. We recognize the importance of sharing power in doing this work and remain grateful to the faculty, staff, students and community members who serve on CDI for their role in advancing this effort.
We look forward to considering additional ideas for ongoing engagement in the following academic year to ensure our faculty, staff and students are included in the planning process. Pending available resources and budgetary approval, we aim to secure a permanent leadership position to lead diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging within Watts College. This is just the beginning.
We will contract with an external consultant to advance an evaluation of the work climate of the college as it relates to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. The consultant will launch an anonymous climate survey by the end of January 2021. We are prepared to make changes to policies and practices that emerge from the feedback gathered from our faculty and staff through this confidential mechanism. We are prepared to invest in providing anti-racist training that can be implemented for all employees of Watts College, including our senior leadership team, which remains committed to modeling lifelong learning as it relates to eradicating systemic racism; this training will be informed by the feedback that emerges from the survey.
We moved information regarding reporting of discrimination and other Title IX offenses to a more prominent place on our website. The "Reporting Discrimination" page publicservice.asu.edu/reporting-discrimination was created to provide faculty, staff and students with information about reporting. We will increase the frequency of our communication regarding reporting. We aim to secure spaces for faculty, staff and students who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx or from other oppressed groups to help foster connection and empower resilience.
We have requested an analysis of the demographic data for our college from ASU Institutional Analysis as it relates to personnel actions such as hiring and promotions to confirm our internal tracking. We will review this report summarizing the racial composition of our faculty and staff across ranks and continue to look for any discriminatory patterns in personnel actions. We are also taking a critical look at our personnel policies to identify and change any barrier to the hiring or advancement of faculty or staff who come from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. An equity statement is now required for applications of faculty and administrators hired in Watts College and for all staff applying to positions of director or above to delineate how they have and will work to advance equity in their new position in the college. We also remain committed to increasing the diversity of our senior leadership team to better reflect the diversity of our student body, and we will continue to prioritize the promotion and/or hiring of Black, Indigenous and Latinx persons to leadership positions within the college. We will require that recruitment pools for any faculty, staff or leadership positions are diverse and will require that search committees attend training regarding equitable practices in hiring. We will provide a report that will be available to the entire Watts Community regarding this examination, with plans to remove any barriers for faculty and staff of color by December 2020.
Our four schools and our interdisciplinary degree programs will conduct a critical review of all degree programs, including our PhD programs. Curricula will be reviewed: (a) to ensure all degree programs in the college include content that addresses the specific impact of racism in their areas of study, (b) to clarify the role of public service professionals in combatting racism, white supremacy, inequity and unfair treatment of people of color, (c) to update the content to ensure our students are able to recognize instances of structural racism built into our institutions as well as their own implicit biases, (d) to provide education regarding our responsibility as public servants to stand up to unfair treatment when experiencing or observing unjust actions, and (e) to ensure content written by people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, when available, is included as required readings. Changes to the curricula remain an important area of faculty governance. With that said, it is the position of our leadership team that all schools should have a course focused on the fundamental value and importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in our society along with content regarding racism, anti-racism and a critical evaluation of the inequities that are inherent in the public service fields represented in this college. A plan for this review will be submitted to our office by December 2020, with a final report due May 2021.
We recognize the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities. We understand that our approach to the accommodation process as defined by the university is a work-in-progress, and we will make adjustments as we understand the ramifications for safety and equity. We pledge to continue working with faculty and staff who are working on campus and to revise plans to meet their needs. We will provide regular communication to our faculty, staff and students as the situation changes. We will ensure Watts College employees are informed about ASU resources, including the process for accommodations, COVID testing, computers and hot spots, and counseling.
We will create a fellowship program to advance the recruitment and retention of doctoral students of color to increase the diversity of our doctoral student body. The college will allocate $28,000 to support all Black, Indigenous and Latinx doctoral students who participate in the fellowship program who are in the first three years of doctoral studies, with an additional $4,000 scholarship for this academic year. We will also conduct an examination of the funding patterns of our doctoral programs across all four schools to look for and eliminate policies or practices that are not equitable and/or hinder the advancement of doctoral students coming from diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds.
We will seek opportunities to engage Chief Thompson to assist in examining policing policies on campus regarding their potential to disadvantage Black students, staff and faculty and people coming from other diverse racial and ethnic groups. Considering our expertise in evidence-based policing, we have a responsibility to assess and support the practice of policing at ASU and look forward to infusing this expertise across our practices here at ASU.
We look forward to contributing to and participating in President Crow’s plan to advance a list of 25 actions to support Black students, faculty and staff available at: https://president.asu.edu/statements/asus-commitment-to-black-students-f....