Dear Members of the Huntingdon College Community,
We are writing to update you with an initial report from the College’s Race and Justice Initiative (RJI).
As a College of the United Methodist Church, Huntingdon has long worked to provide under-served populations with access to higher education. Our progress has been imperfect. As energy swells around efforts to redress racial injustice across the nation, the College is working more intentionally to be a place where African American and other minority students will thrive. The College is dedicated to living up to its highest ideals of full justice, full opportunity, and full reconciliation. Few generations take the opportunity to act transformationally. Now is our opportunity. Now is our time to act.
As you may know, at the beginning of June this year, shortly after winning a grant from the Council of Independent Colleges and the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education to develop programming focused on justice and vocation, Huntingdon College created our Race and Justice Initiative.
This group, which contains staff, faculty, administrators, current students, alumni, and members of the Board of Trustees, has been working steadily since June on a set of short- and long-term goals. Today, we would like to share with you an initial report on our progress.
This academic year, we have been able so far to accomplish the following:
- We have designated space for a permanent home for the Black Student Union (BSU) in The Hut, which will be renovated over the winter break
- We have piloted a new course on Racial Disparity in the American Application of Law
- The Campus Activities Board has appropriated $2,500 for BSU activities
- The President has dedicated $10,000 in funding for a series of events addressing issues of race and justice
- The Alumni Engagement Working Group has established a group of action teams
- Faculty will participate in a workshop on racially sensitive pedagogy on Nov. 6
- We have begun to diversify the staff of the Office of Admissions
In addition, we are making plans to accomplish the following:
- Create a minor in African American Studies, to begin in Fall 2021, including a series of new courses
- Examine our hiring practices in order to help us attract a more diverse faculty
- Add a course on race and justice to the Core Curriculum
- Have freshmen read a common text focusing on race and justice
- Broaden our pre-professional career-preparation programming intentionally to include HBCUs
- Launch a campaign to re-engage alumni of color to become active participants in the Race and Justice Initiative
- Conduct two virtual alumni career round-tables aimed at students of color
- Establish relationships with local middle- and high-school counselors in order boost recruitment among students of color
- Create a Student Voice Group to help students of color articulate their concerns to the College administration
- Create a Peer Support Group for students of color, as part of the BSU
- Facilitate a series of “Courageous Conversations,” to be convened by various student organizations, to discuss issues of race on campus
- Conduct two virtual alumni mentoring sessions through the BSU
- Survey our students of color better to determine their additional mentoring and networking needs
- Boost the social media presence of the BSU
- Conduct “Live with Luke” and additional internet-based efforts to inform the College community of the Alumni Group’s works and how they, and especially students and alumni of color, can participate
- Fundraise for the Race and Justice Initiative’s matching funds program and the BSU
As the academic year progresses, we will add to this list still further, and we will be in touch with additional updates. Our goal is to make Huntingdon more open and inclusive to minority students, such that they will feel unapologetic for choosing to learn here, and comfortable in classes and on campus while pursuing their goals. At the same time, we seek to create an environment that fosters for all students at the College an appreciation of the contributions of minorities, thus better educating and preparing all who matriculate to go forth into a diverse, multicultural workplace and world able to forge meaningful relationships with all people.
We invite you to join us in this righteous cause!
J. Cameron West (President of the College)
Tom Perrin (Chair, RJI, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs)
Laura-Marie Brelsford ’05 (Co-Chair, RJI Working Group on Alumni Engagement)
Christopher Clark ’07 (Co-Chair, RJI Working Group on Academic Engagement)
Jennifer Fremlin (Co-Chair, RJI Working Group on Academic Engagement)
Wanda Howard ’81 (Co-Chair, RJI Working Group on Alumni Engagement)
Tachera Porter ’16 (Co-Chair, RJI Working Group on Student Engagement)
Joe Thomas ’17 (Co-Chair, RJI Working Group on Student Engagement)