Last week, President Newkirk called on the Converse family to step up efforts to address racial injustice in the Converse community. She shared some of the initiatives that have been put into place and the next steps to make Converse a campus that truly Acts Justly. Over the past week, a number of positive steps have been taken towards the action steps that she outlined.
This past Monday, June 8, President Newkirk held a Zoom conversation with students, alumni, faculty, and staff to hear their ideas on what we can do better to address the issues of racial injustice in the Converse community. The attendees shared valuable insight and feedback on the call. If you were unable to attend and would like to share your comments, please do so here.
We have selected a film for the Converse community viewing to take place this summer: “13TH.” This film is a documentary that was released in October 2016 and directed by Ava DuVernay. It addresses the high levels of incarceration in the United States versus other countries, and in particular, the high levels of incarceration for African Americans. The full documentary can be viewed for free on YouTube and is also available on Netflix for those with subscriptions.
For the book reading, those serving on the Model Change Classroom Experience Committee are planning to read The Brave Educator: Honest Conversations About Navigating Race in the Classroom by Krystle Cobran. It is just one of an extensive recommended reading list for that committee as they work to make our classroom environment better and more inclusive for all. In addition to those efforts, the Faculty Senate and Staff Council representatives will be reaching out to Converse faculty and staff to invite them to read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and then to schedule a time to talk about it.
Converse’s Diversity Strategic Plan, developed by our Unity in Diversity Committee, was finalized this week and shared with the Board of Trustees. The Plan can be viewed here. Efforts will begin immediately to address the goals and strategies outlined in this plan.
Converse has assigned Diversity and Inclusion and Managing Bias training sessions to all faculty and staff. These trainings are required to be completed by our faculty and staff by the end of summer. We are happy to report that after only one week, we have already seen 52% of our faculty and staff complete these important training modules.
We are also planning a Zoom conference for Converse faculty, staff, and students in celebration of Juneteenth (June 19). Additional details will be released soon.
We will continue to provide updates throughout the summer. Your input is important, and we encourage you to continue in conversation with us, as we continue to listen and take action. Together we will work towards real and sustainable change, and a Converse that is a place of belonging for all.