In a four-page letter, Chancellor Harvey Perlman on Feb. 9 issued the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s response to suggestions produced from November’s Black Lives Matter event on campus.
Perlman focused upon each of the organizers’ six recommendations, which ranged from requesting an acknowledgment of racism on campus to specific curricular, programmatic and staffing initiatives to help diminish it. The suggestions were delivered to the administration during a Nov. 19 campus rally.
Among the chancellor’s pledges:
to employ the Division of Student Affairs to catalog units and programs that conduct multicultural programming, and connect them with students of color;
to encourage deans and faculty to constantly assess Achievement-Centered Education courses that would fulfill diversity requirements;
to explore diversity workshops for incoming students; and
to confront racism and racist acts whenever necessary.
Perlman also said the university would employ an outside consultant to conduct diversity-mapping to help determine whether the university’s efforts are appropriate. The firm is expected to begin “benchmarking” the university in comparison with its peer institutions later this spring.
“The university community is eager to address these critical issues head-on,” Perlman wrote in the letter. “The university administration is committed and looks forward to our continued partnership.”
The chancellor also reiterated the university’s commitment to work toward a campus that fully embraces the value of all of its members. He summarized actions taken since 2013, when the university committed to diversity efforts as part of the “Not Here, Not Now, Not Ever” campaign.
Since then, several steps have been implemented and others are moving forward, he said. They include the adoption of the TIPS reporting system that allows anyone on campus to report incidents of bias; creation of diversity officers in the offices of academic affairs, student affairs and human resources; creation of a chief diversity officer; increasing faculty and staff training; and enhancing attention to racial and gender issues in communications and orientations for entering students.
Yet, Perlman wrote to organizers, “I understand and respect your impatience for more visible signs of progress. While I am committed to continuing our progress, I am under no illusions that change will be rapid or complete. Legacies so deeply rooted in our past are not easily overcome.”