A Call to Action

by Kellie Raffaelli, Audrey Mayer, and Beth Lunde-Stockero

Our hearts are broken at the violence, discrimination and hatred we have seen unfolding across our nation on members of the Black Community and historically marginalized people, and the acts of violence that most recently took the lives of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Louisville and George Floyd in Minneapolis. We stand together as a community, rejecting all actions that are steeped in racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia or any other version of hatred. These actions do not align with our values and have no place on our campus.

These recent incidents may be shocking for many in our community, but for others, these tragedies are all too familiar. Our students, faculty and staff of color experience discrimination, bias and microaggressions all too often. As an institution of higher education, it is our responsibility to create an environment that ensures equal access, opportunity, participation and representation for all.

At Michigan Tech, there is much work to be done and we all have a part to play. Many of you have expressed a desire to do something but may not know how to start. The campus diversity leaders are gathering a list of tools, actions and anti-racist resources to keep the conversation moving and we are working with the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning to provide resources for faculty. In addition to the resources linked, you can create or advocate for more diversity-focused courses offered in the curriculum or bring students and colleagues together to discuss these issues. You can join a committee or task force — the Diversity Council and Diversity and Inclusion Tech Forward task force always welcome additional members — or get involved with your departmental team. We can all begin by leading with empathy and seeking to understand the lived experiences of our community members. We can read, listen, self-reflect and reach out to one another. We can get involved.

These resources provided above are additions to our ongoing efforts at Michigan Tech. The Diversity and Inclusion Tech Forward task force has several initiatives underway and has met several goals. You can read more about those achievements here. The Diversity Council is leading efforts to provide resources and support for families who need child care and is working with Human Resources on resources for supervisor training. You can find several training and workshop opportunities available to campus on the Diversity website and Institutional Equity website. The ADVANCE Initiative has many efforts underway and is currently drafting a Guide to Inclusive Faculty Hiring, in addition to their Allies and Advocates program. Over the summer, we will work with Michigan Tech Public Safety and Police Services and local law enforcement agencies to create a coalition of campus police, city and county police, and student leaders to discuss outreach, education, training and community-building.

There are numerous opportunities to be involved in diversity and inclusion work. The most important thing anyone can do is use their voice to push for change. Respectful exchanges of our perspectives, experiences and ideas broaden learning, interactions and worldviews. Creating and sustaining dialogue with and among your colleagues and students is an important step in creating a community where everyone belongs and is welcome. The responsibility to create a community that is equitable and inclusive is on all of us. Together we can create change.

As President Koubek said, “As we navigate these challenging times together, let us serve as role models for unity and strength. Let us use our voices, our skills, and our influence to advocate for change.” For more information, please contact Kellie Raffaelli at kraffael@mtu.edu.

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