Anti-Oppression Initiative Progress

This message is from IHP President Paula Milone-Nuzzo's desk


-January 19, 2021-

Dear IHP Community:

On Monday, we celebrated the life of one of the greatest activists and visionaries of our time, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His messages are as relevant today as they were in the mid-1950s when he began his crusade against racism and bigotry in America. In 1963, in his “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King said:

“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

On May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, our country was rocked by the horrific death of Mr. George Floyd. The events of that day as well as the tragic events throughout the year sparked a wake-up call to the stark realities of racial injustice and oppression that have for far too long existed in our country and in our organization. At that moment, we realized the “fierce urgency of Now.” The IHP committed to set out on a course to make substantive change in areas that we had been exploring and discussing for some time. In some areas we had made progress, but often this change was coming at too slow a pace. In response, on June 29, 2020, we sent an email to the IHP community about the anti-oppression initiatives we thought were important as the focus of our immediate work.

Over the last seven months, we have made significant progress, and we continue to work diligently in a number of other areas. We also know this is just the beginning of our work. We will continue to look critically at our policies and systems to see where we disadvantage minoritized populations and make changes to eliminate those structures. In many ways, this requires all of us to examine our routines and traditions to see how we can make the IHP a more inclusive environment. We encourage each of us to take on that responsibility.

We felt it was important for you to see our progress, outlined below, on this initial list of initiatives. We will not lose sight of our goals, and we will not let our commitment become a set of empty promises. We are engaged in “the fierce urgency of Now.”

We know that this work is not going to be completed quickly and will grow over time as new goals emerge. Martin Luther King Jr. showed us how one voice can change the world. Together, we can “make real the promises” we have made to antiracism, anti-oppression, and equity. 

Below are updates about the progress of these projects to date. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about any of the information provided.

Rebrand DEI to the Office of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI)

  • Rebranding complete.
  • We are in the process of establishing ACE and expanding staff. We have hired Dr. Callie Watkins Liu as associate director of IHP-ACE. We have also hired Lindsey Lo as program coordinator in JEDI. We are in the process of hiring an associate director role in JEDI.
  • We have established the JEDI Fellowship Program. JEDI Fellows have been engaged in data collection, analysis, involved in task forces with the departments/programs they are working with, and developing workshops and trainings.

Develop an IHP Diversity Statement/Pledge and Build Institute-Wide Support

  • A JEDI Council task force has revised this statement and presented to the JEDI Council, along with academic, administrative, and student groups for feedback and approval. The approved statement is on our website, and a condensed version is part of all course syllabi.
  • We also now include language about anti-oppression in all of our job postings.

Create JEDI Strategic Action Plans to improve diversity and retention of faculty, staff, and students of color, especially Black faculty, staff, and students

  • JEDI and instructional design staff are meeting to develop a collaborative workshop on syllabus auditing for faculty.
  • JEDI will be supporting faculty on action research projects focused on establishing equitable and anti-oppressive learning environments.  
  • BSU Leading for Change consortium committee is reviewing and analyzing institutional data, so that they can make recommendations related to racial justice and equity. The committee has reviewed diversity data, Great Colleges to Work For data, and qualitative data from student groups.
  • Equity Advocates are active in faculty and some administrative searches.

Support faculty, staff, and students of color, especially Black faculty, staff, and student-specific programming and support

  • JEDI hosts faculty of color meetings monthly and Black faculty and staff meetings. Alyssa Torchon has hosted a Black student space monthly. Employee Resource Groups have not yet been established, but MGB is also developing system-wide ERGs. Dr. Callie Watkins Liu’s will convene Black faculty and staff meetings to develop the ERG and provide support.
  • JEDI and the Institute’s nursing dean have met with the faculty of color and are in the process of developing a policy to acknowledge faculty for their invisible and emotional labor.
  • Alumni of Color network has not been established; to date, three alumni meetings have taken place.

Trainings and Workshops

  • We developed and implemented the “Brave Dialogues I and II” and “Recognizing and Responding to Microaggressions” workshops. We also worked closely with SHRS and SON on the planning and implementation of faculty retreats focused on JEDI issues. We have also facilitated specialized workshops and training opportunities.
  • One of the JEDI Fellows, Meg O’Brien, is developing a workshop on intersectionality. The third virtual iteration of PPP focused on intersectionality and the local context. The Institute has set a goal of 100% participation of faculty and staff in PPP.

Bias Reporting

  • MGB has taken on the initiative of having a system-wide harassment policy and bias reporting mechanism. They have chosen a vendor and are in the process of establishing a reconciliation process. JEDI will work with MGB representatives to relay any concerns that IHP members have regarding reporting and reconciliation.

 Our JEDI initiatives are certainly a work in progress, and we look forward to you being a part of this important journey.

Paula Milone-Nuzzo
President and John Hilton Knowles Professor

Kimberly Truong
Executive Director for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion