August 31, 2020

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Students, faculty and staff,

I understand some of you may be hurting, fearful and exhausted following recent tragic events.  I applaud students and others for peaceful protests of the shooting of Jacob Blake. It is your right to express your views by protesting peacefully.

Earlier this year, because of similar events in the summer, we established the Chancellor’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion to look at systemic racism on our campus. “Systemic racism” refers to systems and processes in place that have the consequences – unintentional or otherwise – of marginalizing members of our community based on race. The 26-person committee is made up of students, faculty, staff and community members. The goal of the task force is to make SIU become an anti-racism campus. We have work to do, but the committee has already made some strides in a very short time.   

Here are some of the items that have been completed or are in progress:

  • The university’s fall 2021 scholarships will be based on grade point average instead of ACT/SAT scores; this is a natural step following the university’s earlier decision to become test optional.
  • The Student Conduct Code was reviewed to ensure that it reflects inclusivity.
  • The first George Floyd Scholarship was awarded.
  • All UCOL 101 classes will now have a diversity component discussing SIU’s long history of diversity.
  • The Black Staff and Faculty Council and Hispanic Staff and Faculty Council will become formal constituency groups in fall 2020.
  • A diversity newsletter will be published monthly beginning in September 2020
  • A new five-week summer program, Early Start, will be launched next summer for students who have a 2.0 to 2.74 grade point average.
  • A full-time non-tenure track instructor was hired in the Africana Studies department and three tenure-track positions have been approved for the Africana Studies program.
  • Aligning with the work of the task force, the athletics program has taken a number of steps:
    • A Student-Athlete Advisory Committee sub-committee called Saluki Unity has been established. Its focus is diversity, equity and inclusion with four pillars of emphasis: Racial and Social Justice, LGBTQ, Women’s Empowerment, and Mental Health & Well-Being.
    • Athletics has established a Diversity and Inclusion Committee to address policies as they pertain to equity and diversity, provide listening space for student-athletes, and plan for continued implementation of initiatives throughout the year.
    • All athletic teams and athletic department staff will complete anti-racism & anti-bias training by the end of September.
    • Athletics is currently developing a web page outlining and celebrating its commitment and work in the area of diversity and inclusion.
  • In addition, the Faculty Senate passed the Resolution to Charge Faculty Senate Standing Committees to Address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

I know there is work happening in other areas of campus, and the task force has a number of other recommendations coming forward to further engage us all.

We recognize this is only a start, and the task force needs your input to help us go forward. On Wednesday, Sept. 2, from 5 to 7 p. m., members of the Chancellor’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion will be available via Zoom to listen to your concerns and suggestions.  A link will be available at chancellor.siu.edu. Please participate to share your thoughts.

Austin A. Lane
Chancellor