Manchester University Trustees Adopt Anti-Racism Statement

NORTH MANCHESTER – Manchester University trustees have adopted an anti-racism statement, according to a news release from the university.

Manchester University President Dave McFadden sent a letter to Manchester students, faculty staff and alumni Wednesday morning on the matter.

“Manchester has a longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion – but, for a variety of reasons, our progress hasn’t matched our commitment. We can – and must – do better,” McFadden states in his letter.

“In 2020, our Board of Trustees identified diversity, equity and inclusion as one of its five strategic imperatives, and created a permanent board committee specifically to focus on these issues. This past weekend, the trustees unanimously passed an anti-racism statement, which renews the university’s commitment to stand against racism and the systems that perpetuate injustice and inequity.

“This statement gives added weight and urgency to the work ahead. It promises real action and dismantling of any systems that stand in our way.

“In addition to discussing and passing this statement, the Board also heard from a panel of undergraduate students about their personal experiences at Manchester,” the letter continues.

“All of us need to hear and understand the experiences of colleagues and students who are marginalized at Manchester and in our country, in order to become a fully welcoming and inclusive community. We must acknowledge missteps of the past, and the unconscious biases built into our institutional policies and practices. We need to focus on equity – not just equality – in order to address unbalanced systems and barriers.

“Fixing institutional racism means being willing to tear down existing systems at Manchester, and creating new processes that truly live up to this responsibility. Unquestionably, this work will be difficult – but it is also necessary.

“Our trustees are enthused and committed to doing this hard work, and their determination aligns with other diversity, equity and inclusion efforts the University has undertaken in recent months, including creation of the President’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and its collaboration with the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of Multicultural Affairs to develop a University-wide Strategic Diversity Plan. We’re also providing colleague education and training, and increasing our awareness through VIAs, discussion groups, book clubs and films.”

On the academic side, McFadden’s letter states, “We are focusing on ‘inclusive excellence’ to create an environment that not only welcomes students of various backgrounds, but also enriches the collective learning experience.

“Some may ask why we didn’t do this sooner, and with good reason. These values have been part of the ethos of Manchester for many years but, to date, our efforts and systems simply haven’t produced sufficient transformation. By issuing this Anti-Racism Statement, our Board is challenging us to act decisively, adding new weight and urgency to our work.”

In the weeks and months ahead, students and colleagues will have opportunities to be part of building momentum for real change, McFadden’s letter states. “Without it, we cannot discover our best selves as individuals or as a community.”

A copy of the Anti-Racism Statement from the Board of Trustees states the Board “stands against racism and systems that perpetuate racial injustice, and we commit to standing against all forms of racism, discrimination, bias, privilege, abusive power, supremacy and racial/ethnic hierarchy.”

It also states, “it is our responsibility to recognize, understand and dismantle all the ways systemic racism and oppression impacts under-represented, underserved and marginalized students, faculty and staff. To fulfill this responsibility, we will ensure that all inequitable and unjust systems, policies, practices and institutional norms identified are replaced by those designed to cultivate a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Manchester University community.

“… We commit that our diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism work will be open, transparent and accountable. We will listen and learn from each other. We will hear and amplify the voices of those who have been marginalized. And we will create opportunities to generate individual and institutional transformation.”

The statement says the work will not be easy or quick, but “it is imperative for our future. We invite all who are part of our institution to join us in this call, so that – together – we are better able to improve the human condition.”