The Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut has long committed itself to the values of diversity, collaboration, and informed intellectual inquiry, and for the past several years, has designated equity and social justice as a focal area in our academic vision.
As members of the Equity and Social Justice Task Force, we believe that the new social and political context created by the presidential election requires not only that we reiterate these commitments, but also that we, the Equity and Social Justice Task Force, acknowledge and empathize with the many individuals and groups in our community who are experiencing a considerable amount of pain, fear, and concern for their safety. During the recent political campaign, women, members of the LGBTQ communities, individuals with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, Muslims, refugees, and others were targeted with disparaging remarks. Given the recent spike in hate crimes across the country since the election (as chronicled by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s #reporthate), legitimate fear exists that such remarks will continue to translate into acts of harassment, incitement, and even violence.
In recognition of the current unrest in our country and on our campus, we, the Equity and Social Justice Task Force, would like to emphasize the following points:
1. The Neag School of Education is an inclusive, open, democratic, diverse, and caring community that values the diversity of its students, staff, and faculty.
2. We, the Equity and Social Justice Taskforce, do not condone and will actively oppose any effort to target, harass, intimidate or exclude individuals or groups on the basis of race, ethnicity, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, language, religion, national origin, disability, or immigration status.
3. We, the Equity and Social Justice Taskforce, believe that recognizing the inherent human rights and equal dignity of all people, listening to and striving to understand one another, and making a commitment to work together is the way to foster sustained, positive change in our society and world.
4. We, the Equity and Social Justice Taskforce, stand in solidarity with individuals and groups who advocate for empowering those who have been and continue to be systemically oppressed.
In summary, we, the Equity and Social Justice Taskforce, want to assure our students, staff, faculty, and partners that we will be vigilant in ensuring that our spaces are safe for all members of our community. The university’s policies and procedures with regard to bias, harassment, and intimidation are clear. Community members should should not hesitate to follow these procedures, and we encourage everyone to report any incidents directly to the Neag School Dean’s Office, their department, or other responsible members of the Neag School administration to ensure a comprehensive and timely response. We, the Equity and Social Justice Taskforce, also would like to remind community members that additional support and counseling are available from the university’s Counseling and Mental Health Services.
Our dedication to our core values is not contingent upon political and/or social pendulums, but rather, is rooted in a lifelong pursuit of equity and justice for all. We, the Equity and Social Justice Taskforce, believe each individual and group reflects their values through their actions as well as through their inactions. Hence, we, the Equity and Social Justice Taskforce, will continue to work diligently alongside our social justice partners to deconstruct systems of oppression, empower groups that have been marginalized, and foster a deeper manifestation of diversity and inclusion in policy, and more importantly, in practice.
Equity and Social Justice Task Force Members
Joseph N. Cooper