We have had multiple incidents this semester involving racist words and phrases written on college or personal property on campus. I have written out with specifics in several of those cases. They also fit into a longer lineage of problems with racism here. Today I am writing with the intention of moving Williams beyond incident reports to try and address the underlying problem.
Effective immediately, Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leticia Haynes ’99 and I will convene a new Ad Hoc Anti-Racism Campus Task Force. Leticia and I are currently developing the charge, but at a high level the group will propose strategies for confronting and addressing race-based bias.
Later this semester we will publish a page with the formal charge and membership—which will include students, faculty, staff and administrators—as well as a plan of action, backed by a supporting plan for keeping campus informed of and engaged with the task force’s work.
Please look for updates about ways you can contribute. In the meantime, we have published a contact form that you can use to submit questions and suggestions at any time.
In closing, I want to say something that is often left unsaid in bias notifications. This Williams community of ours is, at its best, a beautiful, diverse and fascinating community. The efforts to diminish us are cowardly, and we need to resist the ugliness. Doing so will require analyzing social ills, imagining solutions and carrying out strategies for positive change. These are areas of great strength for the Williams community. If we harness our talents, this community has the potential to make lasting progress.