Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,
Since my statement on May 30, I have heard your reactions to recent community posts. I have also heard your demands for the College to do more. I want to express my deep regret for the pain inflicted on an already hurting community. My initial communication and the two posts did not state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter, contained language many found insufficient or confusing and, most importantly, did not identify any action steps. I know that Hamilton must do better – and we will.
The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and now Rayshard Brooks have highlighted yet again the nature and extent of systemic racism in our country. We know that these events have caused enormous pain, particularly for members of the Black community, and for the Black members of our community. We stand in solidarity with them, because Black Lives Matter.
We commit to developing collectively a comprehensive plan of action, beginning with the following three steps.
- Host listening sessions and form an Advisory Council to hold us accountable. Listening sessions with members of Student Assembly, the Black and Latinx Student Union, the ALANA Caucus (a group of faculty and staff of color), and alumni representatives, including members of the Equity and Inclusion Committee of Alumni Council, will enable us to engage collectively in a dialogue about the path forward. I will also form an Advisory Council, starting next week, to establish a formal feedback loop on an ongoing basis. We will begin with listening and follow with informed planning and urgent action. You have this commitment from me, from senior leadership, and from the Board of Trustees.
- Expedite a new equity and inclusion plan. Last summer we began a strategic planning process to enhance our equity and inclusion efforts and identified a set of institutional goals. We have made progress, but must do more. With input from the Advisory Council and others, we will build on those goals and publicly track our progress.
- Increase resources. From my discretionary fund, I am committing $200,000 per year for the next five years to increase funding of the College’s equity and inclusion initiatives, with a focus on how we can support Black and Latinx members of our community. The initiatives may include but will not be limited to expanded microaggression and implicit bias training for community members, additional resources for the development of inclusive pedagogies, and additional funding for the recruitment and retention of faculty, students, and staff of color.
In addition to this commitment of funds, a generous friend of the College has stepped forward to offer a $250,000 match for gifts made by June 30 that are directed to the College’s equity and inclusion initiatives or in support of scholarship aid through the Hamilton Fund. Gifts will be matched dollar-for-dollar until we reach the $250,000 maximum.
The actions outlined above are initial steps, but we will develop a more complete action plan in the months ahead, and we will report back to the community on our progress in September. I am grateful to everyone who has spoken up with conviction, and believe that together we can make real progress toward a fully inclusive Hamilton.