It's Time to Act

June 10, 2020

It's Time to Act

A Note to the Campus Community from Student Affairs

We are horrified by the recent killings of four African Americans: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and George Floyd. These are only a few of the most recent deaths which cause us anger, sorrow and despair.

To our Black students and colleagues, we share your outrage and your pain. We acknowledge your grief and your fear.

We see you. We appreciate you. We stand with you.

As the Chancellor noted in his recent email, the commitment to value equity, respect, and inclusion that is central to this university cannot solely be rhetoric – we know it’s time to act. We must acknowledge racism and confront its impact on educational outcomes and campus climate. We have spent the last couple of days thinking deeply about how we could collectively turn our feelings into action and provide all of you an opportunity to be engaged and supported. We can and must do better.

What We Can Do Now

  • Participate in virtual reflection spaces, where we can humbly acknowledge and process what has happened and look for ways to challenge and support each other through honest discussions.
  • Donate to an organization supporting the African American community. Suggestions include, but are not limited to: Clyde Malone Community Center, Black Student Union, Black Lives Matter, NAACP, or the Minnesota Freedom Fund.
  • Become personally involved by volunteering, writing letters to the editors of local newspapers, contacting elected officials and actively finding other ways to engage.

Our Call to Action

To inform our priorities, recommendations and professional development, this summer and fall we will engage in self-guided forums and small group discussions that will assist us in better understanding racism and the experiences of Black lives on our campus. Furthermore, to begin our journey toward a more unified and inclusive campus, we will:

  • Identify and engage a student advisory board on inclusivity to ensure we hear from and are responsive to Black students and other marginalized student populations, to establish how we can more effectively serve students, and to identify tangible outcomes. The advisory board will be created by July 1, 2020 and we will engage in our first conversation/interview with each member by August 1. Appropriate changes to support inclusivity, anti-bias, and cultural awareness will be made and assessed by Spring 2021.
  • Establish content standards that can be applied to professional development programs and student-centered learning exercises, drawn from current scholarship (affirmed within the last five years) and appropriate sources (peer-reviewed by social justice content experts) to address key topics such as privilege, systemic prejudice, implicit bias, deficit thinking, etc., and to ensure all are welcomed and included on campus.
  • Require social justice and inclusion training as part of the annual performance review process for all Student Affairs staff. This will be implemented in the 2020 calendar year with reviews taking place in spring 2021.
  • Increase accountability and transparency efforts to diversify staff working at all levels in Student Affairs (identify a baseline, set target goals, and assess metrics on an annual basis).
  • Audit current policies, practices and structural decision-making processes to ensure they promote and provide equitable access to Black students and staff. After thorough review, recommendations will be made available in December 2020.

We choose to listen, support and advocate for what is right.

To build a better future, we stand committed to confronting racism and to promoting racial justice, inclusion and equity. Know that we are here for anyone who needs to be heard and who needs time to process what is happening now.

With hope and in solidarity,

Laurie Bellows
Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Charlie Francis
University Housing

Moises Padilla
Nebraska College Preparatory Academy

David Annis
Dining Services

Lauren Gayer
Marketing & Communication

Veronica Riepe
Student Involvement

Tricia Besett-Alesch
Counseling & Psychological Services

Sam Goodin
Services for Students with Disabilities

Dustin Rollins
Residence Life

Brian Bollich
Student Affairs Business Services

Jake Johnson
Assistant Vice Chancellor

Hollie Swanson
Administrative Services

Connie Boehm
Big Red Resilience & Well-being

Ryan Lahne
Nebraska Unions

Pat Tetreault
LGBTQA+ & Women's Centers

Marlene Beyke
ASUN Student Government

TJ McDowell
Assistant Vice Chancellor

Leigh Thiedeman
Fraternity & Sorority Life

Stan Campbell
Campus Recreation

Josh Overocker
Associate Vice Chancellor

Callie Wilhite
UNL Children's Center