June 10, 2020
- Dear CEMS Community:
The horrific murder of George Floyd has starkly highlighted the systemic and overt racism experienced by black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities. The tragic and historic events of the last two weeks have evoked in us feelings of outrage, sadness, fear, helplessness, and the need to drive change. It is a critical time for us to come together, to listen to, to learn from, and to support and advocate for our BIPOC communities. By acknowledging these feelings, re-examining our own circumstances, and confronting our status quo, we are presented with unique opportunities to promote positive and lasting change in CEMS, at the University of Minnesota, in our local communities, and beyond.
As a community of students, postdocs, faculty, and staff, we must jointly commit to the creation of an inclusive, safe, and welcoming environment that actively embraces equity and diversity in all its forms. Diversity in our backgrounds and perspectives brings strength to our department, and is central to our collective teaching, research, and outreach missions and our interactions across the University and the local community. Discriminatory acts cause harm that impacts everyone. Thus, the social fabric of our department relies crucially on supporting all members of CEMS in a safe and welcoming environment.
The CEMS faculty pledge to renew and reshape our department culture to be more welcoming, safe, and inclusive. This process must start by examining the ways that we as a department enable or even reward systemic discrimination. This requires engagement of all members of our community, in honest, thoughtful, and heartfelt conversations, to learn and to grow from one another’s experiences. This also requires lifting up of marginalized voices and actively resisting complacency within our department. Through this partnership, we commit to prioritize recruitment, retention, and support of diverse talent at all levels, and for all faculty to act as role models for broader change. Our existing efforts to increase diversity and inclusivity will serve as an initial foundation for a more comprehensive and coherent approach that drives tangible actions and promotes real and sustained changes.
We look forward to developing and implementing a plan of action with the CEMS community over the coming weeks and months. Each and every one of you is integral to our collective success. Already, we have been deeply inspired by a powerful letter from the CEMS graduate students condemning racial injustice and providing the faculty with a call to action. In the meantime, we share these thoughts with you as a way to recognize and to add our voice to that of others calling for lasting change in our community.
C. Daniel Frisbie, Department Head, and the entire CEMS Faculty