June 23, 2020
Greetings. I hope this message finds you and your family well and safe. In response to the effects that recent acts of racism have had on this nation, I am hearing many people ask, “What can I do?” Many of us are hurting for different reasons, and everyone’s position is different. Personally, I fear for the safety and future of my two sons and daughter; they range from 6’2 to 6’7 in height; to me, this means that they are targets not only because they are black, but because their physical presence is very noticeable and potentially intimidating to police. My heart aches as I watch them work to build professional careers in engineering, overachieving in spite of the fact that they are usually overextended and under supported with resources, as compared to their white counterparts. So you see, it means something different for each of us to witness countless acts of injustice play out in this world. Life is not the same for all of us because in this country’s history, laws and policies have blatantly, and intentionally, elevated one group while suppressing another.
People should not compromise their values or safety to fight against racism, but you are encouraged to ask yourself, “What am I WILLING to do to have a positive impact?” A news commentator proposed: “What will you say to your children, grandchildren, yourself, about the role you played during this round of human unrest?” Talking about it and feeling bad is a start but it is not enough — policies, laws, practices, and habits must be changed to address this problem, and to progress towards an equitable safe future for all.
The Office of Inclusive Excellence here at Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science fosters an environment where all feel supported, encouraged, and recognized, through education, policy, research and assessment. Through our mutual efforts, you can make a difference to favorably impact our community. If you are in a position to eliminate inequity, offer information or access to resources that will provide someone an equitable opportunity to excel — feel emboldened to do so. If you can help eliminate obstacles to provide opportunity for someone —feel emboldened to do so. Push yourself to consider the circumstances surrounding the position in life of others — feel emboldened to take a chance and see yourself, or those you hold dear, in the face of others. This will bring you that much closer to eliminating the opportunity for bias, conscious and unconscious. For students, faculty and staff who are looking to become more knowledgeable and explore how social identity plays a role in the turbulence we are facing, we encourage them to sign up for one of our signature dialogue circles.
As a reminder, dialogue circles bring people together in small groups to foster mutual understanding and trust. In addition, participants gain the opportunity to have difficult conversations around identity and uncover new ways to work together and solve problems. While we will resume a face to face schedule of dialogue circles for Fall 2020, we are working to offer them virtually as well. Please keep an eye out for the dialogue circle schedule and other programs and initiatives during the upcoming semester that we are planning as the Office of Inclusive Excellence continues to work to break barriers and build bridges.
The hill is steeper to climb, but we are ECS Strong and we have faithful and dedicated leadership in Dean J. Cole Smith.
Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence
College of Engineering & Computer Science