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Graduate students from the Departments of Sociology and Counselor Education Counseling Psychology responded in a letter to last month’s call for collective action by President Edward Montgomery. 

The letter was addressed to President Montgomery and other administrators.

The letter mentioned WMU’s strategic plan which has the goal of promoting a diverse, equitable and inclusive university culture to ensure social sustainability and accessibility. It then mentioned actions the university can take toward those goals. 

Counseling Psychology member Sarah Hauesin wants to make sure WMU listens to the community.

“We want to know what their sense is of our demands and what do they plan on doing? What do they plan on doing tomorrow? What do they plan on doing in 2021? What do the next five years look like,” Hauesin said. “They’ve said they are open to this, they said they are committed to diversity and inclusion so what are you going to do and how can we help.”

Member and Student Devin Willis knows change will take time.

“This is something that we are not going to arrive at and it is going to be a process,” Willis said. “The goal is for systemic change.”

Some of the demands include:

  • Modify all undergraduate and graduate curriculum to incorporate a deeper understanding of how racism pervades all systems and institutions in our society.

  • List and explain WMU’s plan to make first and second-order changes in each category (practice, scholarship, teaching) of the research-backed Multicultural Organization Development (MCOD) framework.

  • Conduct a systematic review of WMU Police citation, arrest and use of force incidents.

  • Conduct an audit to be completed by Fall 2021 performed by a third party to examine and address the ways that institutional racism operates within each WMU College and Department at the levels of undergraduate student, graduate student, and faculty/staff 

  • Prioritize relationships and contract with Black-owned businesses 

  • Require implicit bias and understanding systemic racism training for all search, hiring, and promotion committees to be completed by Spring 2021.

  • Conduct annual audits of the number of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx faculty, staff and administrators at every level in every program, department, institute, center and college, the first of these completed by Summer 2021. These demographics should reflect the diversity of the nation by Spring 2025.

  • Provide resources for advanced training, professional development, mentorship, tenure, and promotion to Black faculty, staff, and administrators of color.

  • Reallocate money and resources to support Black students and other students of color at the undergraduate and graduate levels, with attention to Kalamazoo Promise Scholars, SEITA.

  • Given the WMU annual budgetary line item of $400,000 for international recruitment, establish specific support structures for international students and require cultural competence of all university faculty and staff.

  • Financially and logistically support the Racial Justice Advisory Board created by Dr. Montgomery and led by Dr. McCorkle comprised of faculty, staff, alumni, graduate students and undergraduate students.

The letter included resources to prevent common failures in diversity work. It went on to say they have been collaborating with other student organizations to create an intersectional anti-racist reading group for students, this program is scheduled to begin this summer.

The letter was signed by several groups including the Black Student Union, the Graduate Student Association, the Western Student Association (WSA), WMU College Democrats, the Mu Beta chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, the Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Organization, the Fulbright Student Organization, the Gamma Beta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi and many other organizations.

The groups who wrote the letter hope to have a response from the university by the end of the month so the dialogue can continue.

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