(July 13th, 2020)—
Dear CSUN Geoscience Community,
The events of the last few months illustrate that institutional racism remains an insidious element of our society. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others and the protests that followed ignited a movement to end systemic racism that we are compelled to join. We offer support to our Black students during the 2020 nationwide protests and stand in solidarity with Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, LGBTQ, and allied peoples to stop brutality and dismantle racism and white supremacy, and strive to provide equal opportunities for all people, especially marginalized groups in our society and in our Department. Faculty, including white faculty, cannot remain silent and complicit in the face of oppression and injustice. In our department, the low percentage in underrepresented minority (URM) faculty at only 8%, with 0% Black faculty and 77% white faculty, points to the benefits of white privilege at the highest levels, lack of representative role models for our URM students (~52%) , and complicit participation in systemic racism and segregation in Los Angeles County that has historically hindered access to equal opportunities, education, and advancement.
In the coming months, we, the Department of Geological Sciences at CSUN, commit to addressing systemic racism within ourselves and our community. We invite community discourse and critical examination of our policies, procedures, and culture so that we can create a place where all feel welcome and empowered. As James Baldwin said, “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” We will strive to ensure that all students, faculty, and staff feel safe, welcome and empowered in the classroom, in research laboratories, and during field trips and outdoor activities. Starting this Fall 2020 you can expect to see:
- frank discussions to determine if our customs and traditions promote exclusivity
- input from students, staff and faculty on their experiences with systemic racism in the department and their suggestions for improvement
- a Geoscience Zoom Colloquium Series that solicits diverse speakers
- a new annual community outreach day for transfer students with specific invitations to colleges in local disadvantaged neighborhoods
- improved URM recruitment efforts for undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff
- a new Faculty retreat/workshop series on awareness of racism to develop:
- a list of specific actions that our department will take to address systemic racism and improve the departmental climate for all students, staff, and faculty especially those from traditionally underserved or minoritized communities
- increased course content that raises awareness of racism and sets expectations for tolerance in the geoscience community
- inclusion of racial awareness and inclusive pedagogy in future faculty tenure review processes
We are invested in actively supporting and protecting the rights of all people to participate in a wholly inclusive, diverse, and equitable community of learners and teachers, in a place where civil and free expressions and exchanges of views are free from intimidation. We reject systemic racism, repression, and exclusion that harms or threatens any one person in our Community, or Department, which by extension harms and affects everyone in our Community. The Department’s mission – to create a learning active research environment and disseminate knowledge to study Earth’s processes for students, scientists, and the public – cannot succeed if minority groups are threatened, oppressed or disenfranchised from opportunities.
The Faculty of the Department of Geological Sciences, CSUN:
(This statement was inspired by that of Boise State University Dept. of Geosciences)