To accomplish our vision, together we will need to:
- Reflect and build upon past successes and challenges
- Strengthen partnerships with key constituencies on campus including centers, councils, programs, departments, and student groups
- Tackle difficult questions and craft equitable solutions
- Commit ourselves to the work of addressing policies, procedures, and practices that lead to inequities
- Prioritize the needs of our students, faculty, and staff in their own development and growth
Injustice, including racial injustice, is a part of the fabric of the United States. From its origins, our country was built upon the exploitation and subjugation of historically marginalized groups, and our cultural history demonstrates the intentional construction and maintenance of White privilege. The United States—and thus society as a whole—is operating within systems that often hold advantages for some, while creating disadvantages for and the oppression of others. We acknowledge that explicit and inexplicit bias permeates all systems of power and serves as the catalyst for maintaining the status quo. Higher education is no exception to these structural and systemic power relations.
While the University of Iowa and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences often notes historic areas of leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion, we know that there is substantial work that the college and its community members must undertake. Recent events, including Black Lives Matter protests worldwide, the #metoo movement, the “Does The UI Love Me?” movement on the UI campus, and the COVID-19 pandemic, sharpen our focus on inequality and the urgent need for CLAS to start its own transformation process. As a community of learners and educators, CLAS pledges to engage in an anti-racist, transformative process to better understand the roots of racial injustice; to initiate and sustain our own growth work around power and privilege; to examine and change how our structures perpetuate inequity; and to hold each other accountable for actions and structures that harm vulnerable members of our community. We are committed to engaging in necessary steps of transformation across the college and are calling upon our entire community to join with us in this work.
Our mission is to teach students the ways in which they may act as “engaged citizens who respond creatively and flexibly to the challenges of a diverse and changing world.” In order to succeed in that mission, we must lead by example. We say that we serve as a model for a “culturally diverse, technologically advanced, and globally conscious community.” That does not happen by accident; it takes humility, planning, intention, and collective action, which serves as the reason for the creation of this plan of action.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 2020-2021 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Action Plan outlines initial steps in creating a more inclusive environment for all members of our college community. This plan builds on the larger CLAS strategic plan which will span a five-year period. The college recognizes the ongoing work in these areas by administrative offices, departments, programs, and centers across campus and in our local community—and we see ourselves as partners and collaborators with these change-oriented stakeholders.
The 2020-2021 DEI Action Plan was developed over the course of summer 2020 and was vetted through multiple constituencies.