University is amending its 'anti-racist' 'vision statement' after 60+ instructors object to politicized language
The University of Massachusetts at Boston is drafting a new controversial “vision statement” that would promote the university as an “anti-racist” and “health-promoting” institution.
This new move has caused a heated debate among students and faculty members.
The University of Massachusetts at Boston is drafting a new “vision statement” that would promote the university as an “anti-racist” and “health-promoting” institution. This new move has caused a heated debate among students and faculty members.
An earlier iteration of the proposed statement published by the university’s Mission and Vision Committee had been criticized by more than 60 current and retired faculty members at the university.
That "vision statement" was ditched after an open letter was written by colleagues of UMass Boston’s College of Science and Mathematics (CSM). The faculty members expressed their deep concerns saying that the proposed mission statement is “deeply flawed in content, direction, and representation.”
The letter also included the text of the earlier vision statement draft:
We aspire to become an anti-racist and health-promoting public research institution where:
Diversity, equity, shared governance, and expansive notions of excellence are core institutional values.
Wellness and an ethic of care are embedded throughout our campus culture and all policies and practices.
We invest in a resource-rich learning environment to support the development and success of students of plural identities and from diverse socio-economic, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.
Climate, environmental, and racial justice align with sustainable economic and planning decisions with local and global effects.
Community engaged scholarship, service, and reciprocity are embedded in University practices that promote the economic, social, and cultural well-being of the communities we serve
It also included the draft mission statement:
As an academic community of global and local citizens, we are committed to becoming an anti-racist and health-promoting institution that honors and uplifts the cultural wealth of our students. We intend to engage reciprocally in equitable practices and partnerships with the communities we serve. We support various and diverse forms of knowledge production that enrich the lives of all communities, especially those historically undervalued and underserved. We are a public urban university dedicated to teaching, learning, and research rooted in equity, environmental sustainability, social and racial justice, innovation, and expansive notions of excellence.
The Director of Communications at UMass Boston DeWayne Lehman told Campus Reform that the initially proposed draft was scrapped due to "guided by feedback from the campus community as well as the committee members who were responsible."
Lehman said that the draft is still a "work in progress" and has not yet received administrative approval as “the language is being constantly modified through a broad and inclusive campus-wide process that is built upon best practices utilized by institutions across the country.”
The current draft vision statement was updated on Mar. 29 and includes a bullet-point list of objectives. The mission statement is also updated.
The letter emphasized that “the fundamental role of the public university can neither be political nor ideological activism.”
Many instructors found the proposals to have a “heavy dose of political and activist code language,” and that they are being pushed by a “rigid left-wing agenda," The Boston Globe reports.
The vision statement draft included, “We commit to supporting ourselves and each other in a transformative campus-wide process to uphold this vision in all decision making related to research, scholarship, pedagogical innovations, resource allocation, hiring and promotion, and the development of policies and practices.”
It goes on to further stress that “Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core values that drive institutional practices.”
Despite the letter of opposition, many stakeholders are on board with the proposal, with supporters reportedly calling the vision statement "crucial" to "anti-racism" efforts.
Anti-racism is not new among the university's initiatives.
The university's “Anti-Racism Resources” website includes book and podcast suggestions meant to “educate yourself and/or others on what it means to be anti-racist, about white supremacy,” and “about privilege.”
Some of the books included in their extensive list are How to Be an Antiracist, So You Want to Talk About Race, and Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower.
The website also encourages and promotes students to donate to “give to local and national related causes,” which include “Black Lives Matter,” “Black Trans Advocacy Coalition,” “Amplify Latinx,” and others.