The following is a joint statement that was adopted following an overwhelming majority vote by the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Senate, Mary Frances Early College of Education Faculty Senate and Mary Frances Early College of Education Staff Representative Group regarding their endorsement of the Beyond Baldwin Racial Justice Demands. Our faculty and staff groups have committed to advocating for those whose voices are systematically marginalized. Our Joint Statement reflects concerns about past and ongoing racial injustices that are shared by students, faculty and staff, and affirms the commitment from our elected bodies to take action. We commend the ongoing work at the University of Georgia, but our statement recognizes that we must do more to dismantle continuing racial inequities at our institution.
By endorsing the “Racial Justice Demands” presented by Beyond Baldwin, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Senate, Mary Frances Early College of Education Faculty Senate and Mary Frances Early College of Education Staff Representative Group affirms the ongoing need for racial justice and redress within the UGA and Athens communities.
The demands presented build on the work of the UGA NAACP’s Arch Accountability Demands, and they are a product of ongoing and sustained conversations among a diversity of UGA student groups, staff, faculty and community organizations during the past several years. The demands have been collectively generated and spearheaded by individuals directly harmed by issues of racism at UGA and in our community. It is important to both listen to the students leading this effort and invite them into the decision-making structures that can affect the necessary change.
While the Presidential Task Force on Race, Ethnicity and Community and the UGA Planning Committee on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence are steps in the right direction, there remains a need for deeper engagement across the UGA and Athens communities that is inclusive of a more diverse set of voices and experiences.
For example, administrators and higher level staff professionals are vastly overrepresented on both of these committees. There is a lack of meaningful representation of students, community leaders, departmental, operational, and front line staff, and faculty in areas of race, social justice and community engagement.
We must push beyond conventional diversity and inclusion efforts that have yet to produce the scale of change needed to truly uproot the white supremacy woven into higher education and achieve social justice in our community.
We ask that President Jere Morehead, Provost Jack Hu and Vice Provost Michelle Cook meaningfully engage with the students leading the effort by hosting and participating in a public town hall with representatives of Beyond Baldwin and the UGA NAACP to discuss these demands and the concrete steps that will be taken by UGA to acknowledge and redress racism on our campus.