Yale and Brown Detail Plans to Combat Institutional Racism

In response to the events that recently occurred at the University of Missouri and the subsequent demonstrations that have occurred across the country, administrators at Yale University and Brown University have set forth plans to address the issue of institutional racism present on their campuses and campuses across the US.

On Nov. 3, Yale University’s President Peter Salovey and Provost William C. Brainard announced a $50 million, five-year commitment of resources dedicated to increasing diversity among faculty on campus. Then on Nov. 17, President Salovey sent out a message expressing the “need to make significant changes so that all members of our community truly feel welcome and can participate equally in the activities of the university, and to reaffirm and reinforce our commitment to a campus where hatred and discrimination are never tolerated.”

The four pronged approach he proposed consisted of “strengthening the academic enterprise,” “expanding programs, services, and support for students,” “improving institutional structures and practices” and “representations of diversity on campus”. The plan included creating a new Deputy Dean for Diversity position in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, improving financial aid policies for low-income students in Yale College, and ensuring multicultural training for all staff in the Department of Mental Health and Counseling at Yale Health.

In a similar vein, on Nov. 19, Christina H. Paxton, Brown University President, issued a draft of a 19-page action plan “to promote diversity and inclusion and confront the issues of racism, power, privilege, inequity and injustice.”

The three categories of action fall under “Campus Community,” “Investing in People” and “Academic Leadership”. Brown expects to spend over $100 million over the next 10 years to bring these actions to life. Specifically, some of the steps that will be taken include providing stronger financial and mentoring support, conducting a campus climate study, increasing the diversity of tenure-track professors and graduate students, and expanding programs to encourage and support students of color in STEM fields. This document is not set in stone, meaning it is open for input from Brown’s students, faculty, and staff through responses on an online feedback form. The hope is that this collaboration will lead to more achievable actions.

In proposing these plans, Yale University and Brown University hope to acknowledge the existence of institutional racism on their respective campuses, and definitively outline steps that will allow them to combat it.

"We applaud the material commitment by Brown and Yale towards challenging the ways their universities perpetuate institutional racism," Boston College's Eradicate #BostonCollegeRacism stated. "By Brown and Yale committing $100 and $50 million respectively, these institutions are putting their money where their mouths are."

Eradicate #BostonCollegeRacism, an organization of BC students, administrators, faculty and staff with the mission to “call truth to power and motivate individuals within systems to change policies and procedures which materially impact people of color in adverse ways,” has developed two infographics, one of which is their 3-Point Guide to eradicating institutional racism on BC’s campus. The guide provides concrete suggestions to address these three questions: What would institutional commitment look like at BC? Where can we intervene at BC? How do we move together at BC?

"We define institutional racism as racially biased policies and practices which either create further inequity of opportunity OR perpetuate existing inequities," Eradicate #BostonCollegeRacism explained. "For an institutional policy or practice to be anti-racist, it must be aimed at actively trying to dismantle intertwined sets of advantage that make success and well-being more available for white people than for people of color."

According to Eradicate’s website, “The creators believe that if Boston College stood up and celebrated this kind of activism and held itself accountable for dismantling institutional racism, it could become a national leader for other institutions to follow.”

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