I’m a university professor. Here’s places I think the university should be throwing resources.
- Bystander training both for general situations for everybody and for what the professor can do in class. I would very much like to expand my tool-box about what I can say when a student says something racist. Especially when it’s something racist out of the blue. I’m generally better at dealing with racist comments when I can guess what they’re going to be and am expecting them (like when I’m teaching something with common misconceptions that I can treat as such), but in the past I’ve been shocked at students out of the blue denying the fundamental humanity of immigrants, or interrupting a statistics lecture to go on a racist screed about Hispanic-Americans (that last guy has a restraining order against him and was escorted out by police the last time he visited the department and thankfully dropped my class before the midterm after not doing any of the homework meant he could not pass mechanically).
- I want my colleagues to get training on how to make a comfortable environment for underrepresented people to speak. Things like allowing time to write down the answer to a question before cold-calling. How to sure cold-calls are evenly distributed, etc.
- Another student climate survey. The last one was done 4 years ago, generally every 5 years seems reasonable for these kinds of surveys, but so much has changed since then, it makes sense to do this one early. Maybe even annually for a while.
- A major problem is that there are a small number of faculty, mostly contract or untenured (but also me and one of my white male colleagues who just got tenured this year) who are getting the bulk of the emotional pressure from when our underrepresented students are treated poorly. It is hard and we don’t get service credit for it and the contract and untenured folks are endangered by it. I’m brainstorming with my chair and another chair they’re bringing in about this problem later this week, but either we need to spread this out somehow or we need to concentrate it into an ombuds-type position and give the faculty member service credit for it.
- Before the Corona virus we’d had reports of several students across several sub-fields in several classes say horrific things that denied non-white-non-US-non-etc. their basic humanity. (Things like, if it’s in the US’s best interests, shouldn’t the US government encourage dictators to genocide? Also basic Fox news talking points about why children deserve to be in cages because their parents “broke the law” [sic]. ) When it gets to this level, it needs to be addressed somehow from a department-wide basis in order to show support for underrepresented students and to show bigoted students that their behavior is really not acceptable across the board (and not just in one class from one teacher). But how?
- Bringing in outside people as consultants who are not horrible, preferably minorities with consulting businesses who are probably going to (and should) be terribly expensive this coming year. But it can’t just be “we brought in a consultant for a 3 hour training”– the training has to actually be more helpful than harmful. And it shouldn’t just be an implicit bias training– our leaders need training on how to make systemic change, and we need advice on things like how to shut up white conservative Christians who have joined the student diversity committee to “provide the voice of victimized white conservative Christians” (have I mentioned again that we live in the heavily white Evangelical South?). Given the Corona situation, I’m hopeful that some of these expensive consultants will make video trainings available, but we probably also need to have leadership talk with an expert about our specific situation. And we need someone to tell the dean that having agendaless “conversations” to which everyone is invited (including white police officers?!) and given equal time is going to shut out underrepresented groups.
- Getting rid of that last bigoted statue on campus and replacing it with the prominent black alum one they’ve been talking about since the 1990s WITHOUT requiring private donations to do it. Come ON. One of my colleagues just donated $500 for it and my dean wanted to make a big fundraiser among our faculty, but this is something the University should be doing. I know we’re getting budget cuts and no raises for the foreseeable future, but this should have institutional weight behind it. (That said, if an outside private donor wants to give the university a restricted donation, I’m aok with that.)
What else should I be suggesting? What would help you at work to help your marginalized students/coworkers/etc.?