Dear Members of the Brown Community,
Brown’s pursuit of a fully diverse and inclusive community will define us for generations to come. The draft document Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University outlines a concrete set of actions to promote diversity and inclusion and confront the issues of racism, power, privilege, inequity and injustice that are part of the Brown experience for so many members of our campus. This plan is intentionally presented as a working document because the input of our students, faculty and staff is vitally important for establishing a set of achievable actions to build a better Brown. An online feedback form will be open until December 4, 2015, to gather your feedback. After that date, we will review the responses and make modifications to the plan that take into account the community’s input and careful consideration of how any new recommendations might be implemented. We will release the final plan by the end of the semester.
[Update as of Dec. 3, 2015: Given the high level of ongoing engagement with the plan by students, faculty and staff, we have communicated to the campus that the comment period for the plan has been extended to Friday, January 8, 2016. The final plan will be released at the beginning of second semester.]
This document grew out of discussions with many members of our community — faculty, students, staff and alumni — over a long period of time, and reflects intense work on the part of my colleagues in the senior administration. I am grateful for their contributions. The plan also has been profoundly informed, and substantially improved by recent campus conversations about structural racism. The deep pain that we have heard expressed by students of color in the past weeks and months — a pain that has been affirmed by faculty and staff members who work closely with and care deeply about our students — is very real. We value our students of color and are grateful to them and those working with them for calling attention to actions needed to address racism and injustice on our campus.
Creating a just and inclusive campus community is key to Brown’s ambitions as a university. Legacies of structural racism and discrimination in our society and on our campus undermine our goals of being a diverse, inclusive, and academically excellent community. Although we cannot solve these problems globally, we can ensure that all members of our community are treated with dignity and respect, and are provided the opportunities they need to reach their full human potential. We can make sure that Brown is a place where these issues are acknowledged and better understood through the courses we teach and the scholarship we conduct. And we can prepare leaders who make significant positive changes in the world throughout their lives.
I am excited about the concrete actions outlined in this plan. I recognize that much of what is proposed will be difficult and complex, and success will require the concerted efforts of all members of the Brown community, working together. But I am confident that if we commit to this work, Brown will emerge as a significantly stronger university that more fully reflects our core values.
I look forward to working together as a community to make Brown more diverse and inclusive.
Christina H. Paxson
Professor of Economics and Public Policy