Sent 6/8/20

"The basic struggle we're all in [is] the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human."

- Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist

Dear Campus Community,

The marches across the nation, including in our own community, and the deep-seated issues they represent can feel overwhelming. A common response to such times is to ask, "What can I do to fix it?"

While immediate and clear responses are important, it is just as necessary that we dig deeper to ask, "How do I take responsibility for dismantling the systems that cause this pain and injustice?" Only when we ask this question and continue this work can we create meaningful change in our communities.

Learning and self-reflection are first steps that we can all take, both individually and as a community. As we become more informed, we become better prepared to listen to those around us, learn from those with different experiences than our own, and to feel empowered to make important changes. The process of developing an awareness of equity issues and moving to action can be applied to a range of social challenges.

A working group coordinated by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has assembled a guide to support the learning and consciousness-raising process. This is neither a complete nor perfect guide. Instead, consider it an invitation to what will be an ongoing conversation within our community. Please know that we will be expanding these resources and we invite you to submit additional resource recommendations to my office. We hope you find them useful, and that you will continue the journey with us.

Montana State University supports individual and institutional actions for change. Below are a few of the actions we are taking right now to support our students and employees of color and advance an inclusive community:

  • Growing mentoring opportunities for students.
  • Finalizing and rolling out our IChange plan to recruit and retain diverse and inclusive faculty.
  • Identifying an academic diversity partner in each MSU college to lead and engage in university-wide efforts.
  • Developing an ever-growing and supportive community for faculty and staff of color, called GATHER.
  • Facilitating reading groups for MSU employees and students to engage with social justice materials. We have suggested readings that we encourage you to process with your own reading group. If you do not have a group and would like to join others who are looking to be connected to discuss recommended materials, please indicate your interest here.

I would also like to remind the community that we have many resources available through the Diversity and Inclusion Student Commons and Office of Diversity and Inclusion, including student support programming, educational opportunities and other institutional efforts.

The process of working toward active allyship is centered around lifelong learning, humility, and compassion. As Terry Bradley, MSU alumnus and member of the Aaniiih Nation, has stated, "Allyship is not an identity; it's an action." A long road stretches ahead of us, yet there is value and strength in walking it together. Let us do so each day, one step at a time.

Sincerely,

Ariel Donohue
Senior Diversity and Inclusion Officer