GSAS Pledge for Institutional Change and Commitment to Anti-Racism

January 4, 2023

In Spring 2020 Dean Jacqueline (Jackie) Dejean, now Associate Dean Emerita for Diversity & Inclusion of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, authored GSAS’s Pledge for Institutional Change and Commitment to Anti-Racism. We are deeply grateful for her vision and leadership and the many ways in which she impacted the DEIJ work in GSAS and in the School of Arts & Sciences (A&S).

The GSAS reaffirms its commitment to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for marginalized BIPOC members of our community and reaffirms its intent to assure that all members of our community feel a sense of belonging and feel heard. GSAS commits to removing institutional barriers and to transparency and accountability. Revisit our pledge below to understand how we will continue to do this. We invite faculty, staff, students, and alumni to join our Community Dialogues and A&S and GSAS DEIJ presentations and events to follow the implementation of these plans.

Dear members of the GSAS community, 

Racial injustice continues to destroy Black lives. For too long some of us have expressed our concerns and offered words of support, while often remaining quiet when called upon to make substantive change for justice. Institutionalized racism enabled atrocities like the horrific murder of George Floyd. The irrational, brutal, and unjust treatment of peaceful protestors by some law enforcement continues to assault our collective sensibilities and has inspired so many of us to break our silence. 

We acknowledge that changing the racialized systems that some have thrived under, while others perished, has been a herculean task borne by the Black community. We must create space for the extreme and overwhelming grief and outrage engulfing many in our community, but we would be remiss if we also did not take this moment to pledge to you – that we must, and we will, do what needs to be done to advance justice. For many, this is a moment of urgency and we do not want to squander it with empty promises.

We recognize that we must do the critical work ourselves in order to facilitate these changes. To that end, the GSAS commits to institutional transformation that includes all aspects of the GSAS infrastructure, environment, curriculum, and people, i.e. graduate students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Foremost, we commit to amplifying Black voices and the voices of marginalized communities within GSAS. We make this commitment as institutional change must be a reality for all communities that have suffered and continue to suffer. And, our promise extends to our many allies who have and continue to step up. 

We pledge to you as well to undertake a different approach and substantive dialogues that lead to real and concrete change. We do not take lightly that we are making a big declaration. But it is clear that many have waited long enough for change, so let us get to it.

The GSAS Leadership commits to the entire GSAS community that we will:

  1. Actively participate in anti-bias training so that each of us – in our respective roles – can engage in examining, eliminating, and dismantling bias built into the GSAS structure, procedures and processes in order to become a more accountable, equitable, inclusive, and transparent organization.
  2. Create and sustain safe, diverse, and inclusive spaces to reflect on recent events, to hear from you about the institutional obstacles that you face within the GSAS, and to demand the changes that need to happen. A series of community dialogues will be announced that will start this summer and continue throughout the academic year.
  3. Partner with members of the GSAS community who are seeking to create change at the department level, within groups, or academic fields leveraging our resources and capacity and advocating on your behalf. 
  4. Establish an infrastructure that will create access for all in the GSAS community to collaborate in identifying and removing barriers to a diverse and justice-centered institution.
  5. Strengthen the capabilities of our allies across departments and academic fields by developing innovative diversity and inclusion experiences/opportunities for personal, academic, and professional growth.

This is our pledge. Let us continue the work that transformation requires of each of us, all of us working for a more just and equitable community, nation, and world. Together, we can transform our GSAS, our institution, and our communities.

In Continued Solidarity,

Bárbara M. Brizuela
Professor of Education
Dean of Academic Affairs for the School of Arts and Sciences
Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences