Listening and taking action
This Friday, on Juneteenth, we commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. In recognition of this historic event, we are writing to follow up on President Eighmy’s message earlier this month to share our next critical action steps around our equity and racial justice efforts.
First and most importantly, we are listening.
The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and so many other Black Americans—together with the pandemic’s amplification of racial disparities—have made it clear that we have much to learn about the impacts of systemic racism and much to do to achieve an equitable, just society for all.
Providing spaces and tools for processing, dialogue, input and self-education are all vital to deepening our understanding and positioning our institution and ourselves to create change. We have some outlets in place, with more in the works:
- The Multicultural Student Center for Equity and Justice is planning additional community gatherings for Roadrunners to suggest action steps and ideas about working toward racial justice. Follow @UTSA_MSCEJ on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date news about forthcoming events.
- The Office of Inclusive Excellence and the Multicultural Student Center for Equity and Justice can assist any department, division or campus organization with hosting a Community Gathering to provide virtual spaces for your group to process and heal. Contact Assistant Vice President for Inclusive Excellence Traci Buckley for more information.
- All Roadrunners are encouraged to share their ideas on how we can advance diversity and inclusion at UTSA through the Inclusive Excellence Idea Catcher.
While we listen and learn, we are also taking next steps for action and change. These are just some of what we have planned:
- Institutional inclusivity statement – Efforts to develop an inclusivity statement to stand alongside UTSA’s mission, vision and core values began over a year ago. Led by UTSA’s Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board and building on initial work done by the Provost’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, the statement’s iterative development process benefitted from broad participation by students, faculty and staff. In the spirit of inclusive excellence, and with the goal to hear all voices, we invite all of you to review the statement and provide feedback to the Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board by emailing email@example.com.
- Equity advocacy and curriculum integration – This fall, Provost Espy and our college and division leadership will lead the creation of an overarching framework for implementing the recommendations put forth by the 21st Century Learning Environments task force and the Respectful Discourse initiative. This next step will formally connect those efforts to the planned work of our tactical teams on academic programs, core curricula and degree pathways as a part of our fundamental commitment to the success of our students. Collectively, this work will further define the Roadrunner student experience in and out of the classroom with an intentional grounding in diversity, inclusion and equity advocacy.
- Assessing our climate – We delayed the intended launch of our Campus Climate Survey in March due to the pandemic. All staff and faculty will be invited to take the survey in August, with students to be surveyed later in the year. We will use the results to measure our progress in building an inclusive environment for all. In addition, our project to develop a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Inventory and Assessment for UTSA will continue, and will ultimately inform a formal, more cohesive campus-wide inclusive excellence strategy.
- Increasing the diversity of our faculty and staff – We prioritized the recruitment of diverse faculty and staff through dedicated initiatives, which are seeing early indicators of success. We are committed to advancing these programs in order to make continued progress over the longer term as our state budget forecast allows.
- Community policing – UTSA’s Department of Public Safety will augment key community partnership programs, including the Rowdy Watch Student Patrol Program which enlists students to assist with safety escorts, check blue light phones, deter inappropriate behavior and more. Public Safety will also expand its bicycle patrol program to increase officer visibility and interaction with students, faculty and staff. Our officers will train for bicycle patrol this summer in preparation for the upcoming academic year.
This is just the beginning. Additional campus-wide trainings on racial bias, anti-racism and microaggressions will be announced soon, and our Impacting Social Injustice site will continue to offer updates and resources. In the meantime, we hope you will all consider attending UTSA’s Juneteenth event on Friday as another opportunity to stand with our Black communities in the fight for liberation from racial injustice.
In the words of our 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Day keynote speaker Peniel Joseph, our nation is facing a generational opportunity to transform democracy. We are committed to embracing this opportunity and to doing the hard work ahead.
Taylor Eighmy, President
Myron Anderson, Vice President for Inclusive Excellence
Bernard Arulanandam, Vice President for Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise
Lisa Campos, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics and Athletics Director
Kimberly Andrews Espy, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Kendra Ketchum, Vice President for Information Management and Technology
Rod McSherry, Interim Vice President for University Relations
Veronica Salazar Mendez, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President for Business Affairs
Karl Miller-Lugo, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations
LT Robinson, Senior Vice Provost of Student Affairs and Dean of Students