President Liebowitz announces anti-racism plans
In a Dec. 2 email to the Brandeis community, President Ron Leibowitz announced the release of a revised version of the University’s anti-racism plans. The website for this revision compiles the individual plans for each academic and administrative department along with a general overview of the University’s process in creating the plans and what the University hopes to accomplish. Liebowitz explained that this revision to the ani-racism plan was prompted by the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Citing a November 2020 report, he explained that 130 universities are currently undergoing a review of best approaches for addressing institutionalized racism in academia.
Along with Liebowitz, former Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Mark Brimhall-Vargas led the process for understanding and confronting institutionalized racism.
According to the email, all departments “were asked to engage in critical self-reflection and collaborate with colleagues to consider how the policies, practices, and attitudes relating to their work have a disproportionate and adverse impact on members of the Brandeis community.” From these internal reviews, the departments drafted plans that sought to address the areas in which they fell short in addressing institutionalized racism. These plans were released for review by students, faculty and staff in November 2020 and then again earlier this semester. This newest release is the final draft of the plans.
Liebowitz stressed the importance of student input in creating these plans. The anti-racism initiatives used the Black Action Plan, a student-run program led by Sonali Anderson ’22 and DeBorah Ault ’22, for reference. The email notes that the BAP “recognizes and directs what necessary change at Brandeis might look like so that the University can better meet the needs of students, faculty, and staff alike.” Liebowitz referenced the history of student protest at Brandeis in 1969, 2015 and 2019 for a more inclusive environment.
Although noting that each department used different approaches to their plans, Liebowitz identified common priorities and institution-wide themes.
Liebowitz promised that Brandeis would focus on diversifying the University’s community through admission and hiring practices, providing training on diversity, equity and inclusion, increasing financial support for opportunities that benefit diverse students, faculty and staff and creating teaching materials and office resources to inform inclusivity.
Liebowitz acknowledged that the anti-racism plans are imperfect and are considered a first step in confronting the racism “inherent in virtually all America’s institutions.” Looking forward, he said that each department would submit a yearly review documenting “progress and obstacles encountered.”