University leaders to review community demands for antiracist response
Observer Staff Report | Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Following conversations with Black trustees, alumni, students, faculty and staff at Notre Dame, University leaders will discuss potential responses to demands for antiracist action on campus, University President Fr. John Jenkins announced in an email Wednesday.
Jenkins said he has received several petitions and letters with suggested areas of improvement for the University, some of which he addressed in the email.
These action items included increasing enrollment of Black students, other students of color and students from under-resourced communities, creating a culture that discourages racism and including cultural competency instruction in the first-year Moreau course and other curriculum.
Additional requests included the hiring of more Black faculty and staff, implementing racial bias programming for the Notre Dame Police Department, guaranteeing healthcare and counseling services for underrepresented students and forming a diversity oversight and advisory body.
University and select student leaders will “give these requests serious consideration” over the following weeks, Jenkins said. Upon discerning an appropriate course of action, the group will announce their planned response.
To successfully address the demands from the community, Jenkins said, the University must consider previous initiatives and assess their impact. The President’s Oversight Committee on Diversity, created by Jenkins in 2013, has led these initiatives in the past.
Jenkins directly addressed the communities of color at Notre Dame and said the conversations leading up to this announcement had informed his decisions to explore response to the killing of George Floyd and subsequent deaths of other Black men and women.
“These conversations have shown me that, for many, the pain associated with injustices in the broader society has been made more acute by racist or discriminatory experiences on our campus,” Jenkins said. “The first and perhaps most important thing I want to say to these members of our community is: I am sorry. I am sorry for these experiences that are so contrary to what we want Notre Dame to be. We must do better.”