Faculty Senate: ‘Black Lives Matter.’

Committee releases a statement pledging to prepare students to fight injustice

Emily DiSalvo, Arts and Life Editor

The Quinnipiac Faculty Senate released a statement on June 17, vowing to integrate a commitment to racial justice into the curriculum and urging the university administration to take concrete steps to improve the campus climate.

Members of a subcommittee of the senate wrote the three-page statement that was emailed to all faculty and later posted on MyQ for students to see. 

“This is a moment when being quiet is a form of complicity,” said Margarita Diaz, vice chair of the Faculty Senate and chair of the department of journalism. “I think it is really important for universities, institutions, representatives of faculty to voice these sentiments because when we don’t do that, we are participating in the systems we are opposed to.”

The statement opens with “Black Lives Matter,” which Diaz said is important to acknowledge immediately.

“It was important to us to ground that idea and make clear that there was no ambiguity in the statement we were making,” Diaz said.

The statement then included a list of pledges for the faculty to live up to.

These included a promise to reevaluate assumptions, reexamine the university curriculum, organize events and spaces to engage in difficult conversations and commit to amplifying the voices of black, indigenous and underrepresented faculty and students.

“It’s about thinking about what we do differently and looking at the different things that we teach through an anti-racist lens,” Diaz said. “What are the things that were not visible that become visible then?”

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, students have mobilized and pushed the Quinnipiac administration to take action to make the university, a primarily white institution, more inclusive. Over 4,100 students have signed a petition titled, “We Demand Change and Support at Quinnipiac University because Black Lives Matter.” The petition expresses frustration and sadness with the administration’s response that fails to directly address the black community.

Diaz said the Faculty Senate’s statement was not an attempt to supplement the administration’s response, but it agreed that Quinnipiac is not doing enough to promote a positive climate for students of color.

“I think the university as a whole needs a plan,” Diaz said. “The document that we put together pledges actions that the faculty can take and urges the university to take a series of steps to improve equity and inclusion at the university.”

Some of the suggestions in the senate’s statement include a recruitment plan to attract more minority faculty members, a commitment to offering resources for recruiting and retaining minority students, an ongoing campus climate survey and training for faculty and administrators on being actively anti-racist.

Daryl Richard, vice president for marketing and communications at Quinnipiac said that the administration discussed issues of equity and inclusion at a town hall with faculty earlier this week.

“These conversations are helping shape QU’s action priorities that will guide our collective initiatives and accountability for achieving change,” Richard said. “Actions include reexamining our curriculum with a goal of greater presence of racial and social justice content across all courses; increasing diversity of faculty and staff; and enhancing financial support and access to QU for historically underrepresented minority students.”

The statement also includes a promise to develop an Ad-Hoc Committee on Equity and Inclusion of the Faculty Senate with representatives from faculty, the student body and administration. While Diaz said the senators hope to get the ball rolling on changing curriculum and holding faculty accountable, she believes this upcoming semester will be too soon.

“I think it would be foolish to say we would see any kind of changes in the fall,” Diaz said. “This particular semester carries a set of challenges for faculty members which have to do with content delivery in an entirely new model. It would be unrealistic to ask faculty to create new courses for a new form of delivery (related to COVID-19) and also do all of this. First there has to be training.”