In her call for building an anti-racist campus, Mary Ann Villarreal, vice president for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), emphasized the need for sustained action engrained throughout the university with a first step: Know the power of racism.
“There can be no movement forward on anti-racism unless every person on campus commits to examining bias and discrimination across our institution, taking action and amplifying the voices of the marginalized in developing more equitable initiatives,” wrote Villarreal.
To understand the influence and persistence of racism, one must start acknowledging their own racism by learning from the experiences of those who are disadvantaged by systemic inequities.
One EDI’s newest programs, Reframing the Conversation, strives to elevate marginalized experiences and identities within our university and surrounding community to spark conversations around racism, othering and safety.
The panel series was originally initiated in February with plans to be followed by two additional panels in March. As new safety policies were quickly put in place from the growing concern of COVID-19, the subsequent panels were canceled with the intention of reintroducing the series at a later time.
Now, with a sense of virtual normality, Reframing the Conversation will be relaunched as a monthly virtual panel series with the September iteration discussing Asian American experiences during the age of COVID-19.
In March 2020, EDI led the #UtahWashTheHate campaign across Utah institutions and released a statement in response to concerns of discrimination and bias related to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. In a continued effort to denounce the stereotyping, harassment and bullying directed towards those perceived to be of Asian descent, “The Rise of Anti-Asian Hate” will speak to the larger climate in which such bias arises and reflect on the related tensions that impact college and university campuses.
This panel will include local perspectives of those who have personal and/or professional insight into the existing dynamics of how othering affects people of Asian descent in America. Invited panelists include faculty, staff and students at the University of Utah, Utah Asian Chamber of Commerce and Utah House of Representatives.
EDI’s vision is to establish a culture of belonging and to expand the university’s actions toward a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus. Only together we can eradicate the racial hierarchies and deep systemic inequities in our society and across our campus.