Issued November 2015
The Faculty of the Latina/o Studies Initiative stand in solidarity with our students of color on the campus of the University of Kansas. We support the student protestors of Rock Chalk Invisible Jayhawk in their demands for specific, concrete actions towards a more inclusive and responsive campus that recognizes and addresses ongoing problems of racism, harassment, intimidation, and violence. We further support the statement issued by HALO (the Hispanic American Leadership Organization at KU).
As faculty members from across units including English, Spanish and Portuguese, American Studies, Latin American Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, Public Affairs and Administration, Psychology, and Education, who are collectively invested in diversifying KU’s curriculum and in educating our students about Latino/a histories and struggles for social justice, we recognize that we are all culpable in a system where some of our students do not feel welcome, safe, or recognized. We demand, of ourselves and the KU administration, a renewed and invigorated commitment to providing real education on the multiple disparities that continue to divide our society, which disenfranchises many while some with privilege assume inequality is “not their problem,” and does not affect them. We collectively claim responsibility for changing the climate at KU so that our students know that they are safe and are heard.
To this end, and following HALO’s example, Latina/o Studies faculty pledge to take the following actions:
- Push our own departments to expand efforts to diversify core curricula for our majors
- Press our departments to improve systems of reporting and accountability when issues of racism, homophobia, sexual harassment, and other forms of aggression and intimidation occur, and to hold department-wide difficult conversations on issues of diversity
- Plan and sponsor programming that encourages difficult conversations among a wide range of students from across campus on issues of marginalization, disempowerment, harassment, inequity, social injustice, and violence
- Assist actively in efforts to implement extensive training in diversity and cultural competency for KU faculty, students, and staff
- Regularly have conversations with students in our classes on these issues—including issues that we might personally not feel are in our “comfort zones”—and monitor how well we are doing
- Meet regularly as an interdisciplinary initiative to report on our students’ experiences, assess our progress, and develop further benchmarks for an action plan to contribute to an inclusive campus environment.
While we will demand accountability among ourselves and our departments, we also expect accountability from the KU Office of Diversity, the Office of the Provost more broadly, and the Office of the Chancellor -- each of which is obligated and entrusted to maintain a space of security and equity for all students. It is, likewise, essential that KU Administration make recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and staff of color a central funding priority. We pledge that with our collective efforts and energies, we will push the administration, our units, and ourselves to do better than we have done in the past.