This is a letter to the editor submitted to The Cluster by Dr. Ansley Booker, director of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, and Dr. Douglas Pearson, vice president and dean of students.
Dear Mercer University Community,
Mercer University strives to be a Community of Respect where everyone is held in mutual high regard. Each person deserves to be treated with respect and civility. Therefore, we value inclusion, equity, access, and justice for all Mercerians. We call on our students, faculty, and staff to identify and initiate action against bias, discrimination, hate, and injustice in any form. I join countless others in expressing my sadness over the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor in the past few months. It is heartbreaking that these incidents continue to occur. These tragedies remind us of how important it is to stand in solidarity with each other as a diverse community of leaders.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives (DII) is aware of the impact the current events are having on our students, faculty, and staff and, we welcome the opportunity to continue to have a respectful and open dialogue with one another regarding our individual experiences and how we hope to see sustainable change. We began this dialogue in June with a series of forums entitled Let’s Start the Conversation, facilitated by the DII and the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). We continued the conversation with a racial injustice forum facilitated by DII and Mercer Urge. In addfition, the Mercer Social Justice Book Club was created to serve as a safe space for all individuals to discuss social injustice, provide support, and seek tangible and strategic solutions. The Division o Student Affairs on the Macon and Atlanta campuses created several initiatives to promote student engagement, diversity, and inclusion throughout the university.
Furthermore, my office participated in a virtual conference entitled Courageous Conversations for Educators: Returning to School During a Time of Unrest, held by the Tift College of Education. Additionally, a webinar series dedicated to professional development, facilitated by the Stetson-Hatcher School of Business and entitled Moving Forward from COVID-19: Strategies for Mental Wellness, was launched. The office also helped to facilitate a workshop on antiracism and microaggressions with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty. Lastly, the office partnered with several colleges, departments, and student organizations including Enrollment Management, the College of Pharmacy, the Walter F. George School of Law, the School of Medicine, and Mercer Police to address concerns of diversity, inclusion, access, and justice throughout the summer. A detailed report will follow in October 2020 during our first-anniversary celebration.
DII is currently seeking interns and ambassadors as well as general members for the inaugural university-wide Diversity and Inclusion Council. Interns and ambassadors will help promote initiatives and events while council members will help review and recommend diversity and inclusion trainings models, work to create a university-wide D&I statement, and advise the administration of the campus climate survey. Students, please apply by completing the following link. https://forms.gle/qZEB12V5QTfWUjAB9. Faculty and staff, please submit nominations directly to me via email.
Our students, faculty, and staff are our most valuable assets. As we return to campus and ROAR together, I ask that you stay safe and continue to peacefully advocate for change.
Thank you for your continued support of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Mercer University.
Please contact us with questions, comments, and concerns. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives is here to support you. Please call 478-301-2856 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment. You can also find more information and resources at https://diversity.mercer.edu/. Be sure to follow us on social media at MUDiversityInclusion!!
-Dr. Ansley Booker, Director, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
Events to Join and Support:
- August 25, 2020 6:30-8 p.m. -Multicultural Mixer, Cruz Plaza
- August 27, 2020, 6:30-7:30 p.m. -Mercer Social Justice Book Club Movie Discussion-John Lewis: Good Trouble
- September 22, 2020, 5:00-8:00 p.m.- QuadWorks LEAD Hispanic Heritage Month Event
- October 2, 2020, 6:00-8:00 p.m.-Diversity Bear Stuffing Event
- October 12, 2020, 6:00-8:00 p.m.-QuadWorks LEAD Indigenous Peoples’ Day
- September 2020 - Race in the Dark (Courageous Conversations Continued) Virtual Event
- October 2020 - Pilgrimage to Penfield
- October 2020- We Run Together Virtual 5K Event
- November 2020 - Multicultural Think Tank Virtual Event
- January 14, 2021 -MLK Living the Dream Event
- March 18, 2021 -Diversity Day
- April 2021 - Multicultural Think Tank Virtual Event
- Faculty and Alumni BearTalks
- MacSpeaks: Equity and Inclusion
- Multicultural Dinner and a Movie Nights