St. Augustine Hall

St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Antiracism Initiatives

St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in solidarity with the Antiracism Statement from University Senior Leadership issued on June 6, 2020, is committed “to doing the work necessary to become an antiracist” College.  In keeping with our mission, St. John’s College will provide a student-centered education in a socially diverse environment. We will develop in our students a critical consciousness and ethical perspective, preparing them for service and leadership roles in the local, national, and international spheres. Through research, students and faculty will exemplify the highest standards of scholarly inquiry and expression, contributing to the creation, acquisition, and dissemination of knowledge.  

The Dean’s Goals for AY 20-21 and AY 21-22 lay the foundation for the development of initiatives around antiracism, equity, and inclusion in St. John’s College.  

Goals, Activities, and Task Force

Goal 1: To provide the highest quality academic experiences that engage learners through curricula employing diverse technology and pedagogy employing high-impact practices to create inclusive learning environments 

  • Program purposeful course design, teaching, and assessment that is engaging, meaningful, and accessible to all learners 
  • Incorporate research-based theories of how students learn and evidence-based teaching principles and practices 
  • Cultivate a teaching and learning environment that attends to students’ different social identities and backgrounds, and wherein students are treated fairly, have equal access to learning, feel welcome, valued, challenged, and supported to succeed academically 
  • Participate in student engagement initiatives to support student success/improve student recruitment

Goal 2: To produce the highest quality of innovative research, scholarship, and creative activity 

  • Make vital contributions toward understanding and improving the human condition, to grow knowledge within and across disciplines, and/or to advance the University’s mission
  • Find meaningful ways to engage students in research, scholarship, and creative endeavors
  • Communicate research, scholarship, and creative expression through academic and public channels, including through publications, presentations, and gallery appearances 
  • Seek extramural support for research, scholarship, and creative pursuits 

Goal 3: To strengthen our commitment to becoming an antiracist College of Liberal Arts and Sciences through action 

  • Examine curricula, including course content, syllabi, and resources, and implement a plan to educate students on issues of social justice and implications within their respective fields of study 
  • Review internal policies, practices, and procedures and develop a plan to eliminate bias 
  • Incorporate fair, consistent, and equitable processes in the recruitment and hiring of full- and part-time faculty
  • Participate in activities, including trainings, workshops, and communities of practice, to understand implicit bias, microaggression, race, power, and privilege that will help advance racial equity 

    A new St. John’s College task force, associated with the College’s goal of furthering our commitment as an antiracist College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was created in October 2020.  The task force was charged with developing two to three college-level action items associated with each of these three areas: 

    • Curriculum and Instruction 
    • Policies, procedures, and practices 
    • Professional Development 

    Forty-five members of the SJC community (36 faculty, six administrators, and three staff) volunteered to serve and 15 SJC students were nominated.   

    During the Fall 2020 semester, the task force identified several College-level action items associated with each area of the Dean's 2020-2021 academic year goal to strengthen our commitment to becoming an antiracist College of Liberal Arts and Sciences through action: 

    • Examine curricula, including course content, syllabi, and resources, and implement a plan to educate students on issues of social justice and implications within their respective fields of study 
    • Review internal policies, practices, and procedures and develop a plan to eliminate bias 
    • Participate in activities, including trainings, workshops, and communities of practice, to understand implicit bias, microaggression, race, power, and privilege that will help advance racial equity 

    The task force was divided into three sub-teams associated with each of the three areas of the goal and given their charge at the kick-off meeting.

    At the end of the Spring 2021 semester, each sub-team had identified 2-4 specific College-level actions associated with their area.  The Task Force convened and prioritized the action items and began their implementation.  The sub-team action items are as follows:   

    Curriculum and Instruction
    •    Collect anti-racist statements from departments that have created them. 
    •    Work with the Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion. Identify relevant curriculum events and serve as a conduit to the College’s departments and divisions. 
    •    Develop model statements to include in course syllabi.

    Policies, Practices, and Procedures
    •    Collect all types of St. John’s College policies and create a document inventory form.  
    •    Review select policies with a rubric using anti-racist and inclusive practices. 
    •    After review, make recommendations for those policies, practices, and procedures we are able to change and advocate for change for policies that are beyond the College’s parameters.

    Professional Development
    •    Identify existing professional development initiatives. Create an inventory to identify where support gaps exist. Determine what is already being done. Outreach and collection.
    •    Develop training where there are gaps. 
    •    Develop ongoing support systems and mentorships.
    •    Collect, develop, and share all these resources. 
     

    During academic year 2021-2022, the Task Force work continued:

    Curriculum and Instruction

    • Discussed and redefined the work for the Curriculum Committee. Rather than duplicate work done by the Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion, the team focused on developing a set of expanded tasks that would help bring more faculty into the process of creating community. Given that we cannot dictate (nor would we want to) what faculty do in the classroom, we pivoted to seeing our subcommittee as more of an advisory board.
    • Workshopped a preliminary Vision Statement for the Task Force. The proposed Vision Statement was submitted to the General Committee of the Liberal Arts Faculty Council for review and feedback.
    • Recognizing varying levels of awareness among group members about the meanings of terms such as “inclusion” and “antiracism,” the sub-committee decided to participate in workshops and trainings to confront our own biases. The team developed outreach to and connections with the ACEI and the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Institute.
    • Given the different kinds of implicit bias discussed in the group, the team advised that faculty should have access to a self-assessment tool that would help identify any implicit biases. This self-assessment tool would relate specifically to interactions with students and possible influences on the creation of syllabi.

    Policies, Practices and Procedures

    • The working group focused on the policies and procedures of St. John’s College. The written policies and procedures have to be equitably implemented for the students, faculty, and staff of St. John’s College. With that in mind, the members of the working group focused on reviewing the written policies and procedures to ensure that equity was at the forefront of the policy and/or procedure.
    • The working group developed a rubric to review written policies and procedures based on the racial equity tools from the Center for Urban Education, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California. The Document Review Guide provides an outline and set of questions to frame the discussion and develop the rubric.
    • A sample of St. John’s College policies and practices was collected for review including:
      • Document
      • SJC Undergraduate Bulletin 2019-2021
      • SJC Graduate Bulletin 2020-2022
      • St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Academic Fairness Procedure
      • Graduate Assistantship and Doctoral Fellows Manual
      • Master’s Thesis Handbook
      • Graduate Program Directors Handbook
      • Student Handbook
      • Career Services Faculty and Staff Information

    The team is seeking more policies that could be reviewed with an equity lens.

    • The Academic Fairness Procedure was reviewed using the rubric and changes have been proposed to make the policy more equitable and accessible to students. The Academic Fairness Procedure was revised in 2011, and any changes will have to be approved by the Liberal Arts Faculty Council.
    • The Academic Fairness Procedure was also reviewed by the St. John’s College Student Advisory Group led by Dean Brittany Dotson, Professor Raj Chetty, and Professor Shanté Smalls. The same rubric was used and the comments need to be compared, reviewed, and, if appropriate, incorporated into the revised document.

    Professional Development

    • The team’s work was analytical this year. The working group looked inward to identify gaps in our employee culture. Through the meetings, the group discovered that, while all our departments are committed to antiracism, not all departments have the same resources and/or participation rates. It is imperative that the working group create resources and materials that can be accessible to anyone and everyone within St. John’s College.
    • The group also met with Human Resources and Training and Development representatives to learn more about the current resources, training opportunities, and goals of the University. Through this collaboration, the working group discovered many different options that our employees can pursue in terms of professional development in antiracism initiatives. However, the working group is currently tasked with trying to find ways to encourage participation from St. John’s College employees, especially staff.
    • The work that St. John’s does both as a university and a college is not very well publicized. The group is currently identifying ways to better showcase the institution’s performance to our stakeholders including faculty, staff, administrators, students, prospective students, alumni, donors, etc. 

     

    • Equity work is everyone's work; when one person in our community is oppressed, we all suffer.
    • Systems of oppression work in multiple dimensions and so our antiracism work requires attention on each:
      • Interpersonal
      • Institutional
      • Internal
    • Racism is one of many interconnected forms of oppression, along with sexism, ageism, ablism, and heterosexism.
    • Our goals are to build community capacity for this work while at the same time acting to effect meaningful (structural) change.

    Selected Antiracism Activities – 2020 – 2022 Update

    St. John’s College has accomplished the following in our efforts to advance our antiracism, equity, and inclusion agenda:

    • Created the St. John’s College Task Force on Antiracism, Equity, and Inclusion
    • Developed the B.A. in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies degree. (Institute for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies)
    • Developed a minor in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. (Institute for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies)
    • Developed the Advanced Certificate in Social Justice in the Information Sciences. (Division of Library and Information Science)
    • Reaffirmed the St. John’s College Common Goals:
      • Communication Skills
        • Demonstrate the ability to think, speak, and write cogently, clearly, and effectively.
      • Information Literacy
        • Locate, access, evaluate, and comprehend information in electronic, print, archival, and/or material sources, and develop an awareness of how that information is situated, produced, and used, including discipline-specific publishing standards.
      • Critical, Creative, and/or Quantitative Thinking
        • Create, synthesize, analyze, compare, and evaluate ideas, sources, data, and diverse and/or global perspectives as part of an ongoing process of scholarly inquiry and creativity.
      • Research Skills and Professional Development
        • Integrate, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate applied and adaptive learning skills, and demonstrate ongoing professional development skills through research, internships, and projects.
    • Approved a new St. John’s College Common Goal:
      • Social Justice
        • Utilize skills in communication, information literacy, critical thinking, and research and professional development to understand and evaluate areas of equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice.
    • Revised the New Course Syllabus template to include information about incorporating diverse perspectives and resources into the course proposal
    • Approved a revised draft of the St. John's College Vision Statement.
    • Completed the St. John’s College Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion review – Staff and Administrators. The external consultants, who managed the review, endorsed and supported the work of the SJC Antiracism Task Force including the structure and focus on the three topics: Curriculum and Instruction; Policies, Procedures, and Practices; and Professional Development.
    • Initiated a monthly “Dean’s Lunch and Learn” meeting with staff and administrators to foster and increase dialogue and engagement. The monthly meeting was a direct outgrowth of the College’s DEI survey.
    • Piloted a rubric to review the St. John’s College Academic Fairness Procedure. The rubric was based on the racial equity tools from the Center for Urban Education, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California. Changes have been proposed to make the policy more equitable and accessible to students.
    • Selected for the inaugural HHMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) Learning Community. The IE3 initiative is a key component of HHMI’s commitment to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the U.S. academic science. The St. John’s IE3 Leadership Team, Drs. Manouchkathe Cassagnol, Gina Florio, Alison Hyslop, and Srividhya Swaminathan, is collaborating with other institutions and focusing on the content of the introductory science experience, which embodies inclusive learning.
    • The St. John’s IE3 Leadership Team completed the edX course, The Inclusive STEM Teaching Project, a 6-week course designed to advance the awareness, self-efficacy, and the ability of faculty, postdocs, and doctoral students to cultivate inclusive STEM learning environments for all their students and to develop themselves as reflective, inclusive practitioners.

    Here are selective examples of the College's ongoing activities to further our antiracism, equity, and inclusion agenda:

    • Including a status update as a standing agenda item on all Liberal Arts Faculty Council and Dean’s Advisory Board meetings. 
    • Working in partnership with the leadership of the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
    • Promoting and supporting professional development for staff and administrators in SJC, including through participation in St. John's programming, e.g., Discussion on Social Justice series, as well as external conferences and workshops for academic leaders, e.g. the Equity NOW! Webinar series.
    • Incorporating antiracism professional development in the RED evaluation process for all staff and administrators in St. John's College.
    • Supporting and promoting existing and new curriculum and program development, e.g.,
      • Further development of antiracist commitments and action plans of the departments, programs, and institutes in St. John's College.
      • Pilot programming for the use of Intergroup Dialogue in First Year Writing and as a stand-alone course.
    • Initiating reviews of college-level processes and initiatives.

     

      

    Curriculum & Instruction
    Mauricio BorreroHistoryFaculty
    Alina Camacho-GingerichLanguages & Literatures

    Faculty

    Tracey-Anne CooperHistoryFaculty
    Robert FormanEnglishFaculty
    Roberta HayesICS, Science CoreFaculty
    Dianella HowarthBiological SciencesFaculty
    Sakina JangbarRhetoric, Communication & TheatreFaculty
    Erin KiddTheologyFaculty
    Barbara KoziakGovernment & Politics / Global DevelopmentFaculty
    Zhuoyao Peter LiPhilosophyFaculty
    Gen LongPhysicsFaculty
    Sharon MarshallInstitute for Core StudiesFaculty
    Stephen Paul MillerEnglishFaculty
    Jeffrey NevidPsychologyFaculty
    Steve PuigLanguages & LiteraturesFaculty
    Rev. Jean-Pierre RuizTheology & Religious StudiesFaculty
    Rajesh SinghLibrary & Information ScienceFaculty
    Srividhya SwaminathanDean's Office / EnglishAdministrator (Coordinator)
    Dejan TrickovicICS/DNYFaculty
    Joseph TruminoSociology & AnthropologyFaculty
    Policies, Practices, & Procedures
    Phyllis ConnInstitute for Core StudiesFaculty
    Michael CrossfoxLibrary & Information ScienceStaff
    Anne GalvinSociology & AnthropologyFaculty
    Alison HyslopDean's Office / ChemistryAdministrator (Coordinator)
    Tina IemmaEnglishStudent
    Zoe PetropoulouLanguages & LiteraturesFaculty
    Susan RosenbergArt & DesignFaculty
    Richard RossoChemistryFaculty
    Monica WagnerCommunication Sciences & DisordersFaculty
    Robin WellingtonPsychologyFaculty
    Rebecca WiseheartCommunication Sciences & DisordersFaculty
    Yan YuCommunication Sciences & DisordersFaculty
    Professional Development
    David BrownChemistryFaculty
    Tamara Del VecchioPsychologyFaculty
    Kelly DelGaizoRhetoric, Communication & TheatreFaculty
    Brittany Dotson LazarDean's OfficeAdministrator
    Laura SchrammBiological Sciences / Environmental StudiesFaculty
    Paula LazarusDiscover New YorkFaculty
    David RosenthalMathematics & Computer ScienceFaculty
    Jenna ShanleyDean's OfficeAdministrator (Coordinator)
    Jennifer TravisEnglishFaculty

    Departmental Antiracism Statements

    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
    St. John’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

    In the wake of the violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others before, we feel it is important to step up and speak out against these injustices. We write this statement to affirm, unequivocally, that Black lives matter.

    We fully support the antiracism statements from ASHA (revised) and NSSLHA, as well as those from St. John’s University President Gempesawand our senior administrators. We acknowledge that social privilege, institutional and systemic racism, and implicit bias are real and that these forces perpetuate racial inequities in all aspects of our profession, from undergraduate recruitment to delivery of care. Our 2020-2023 Strategic Plan has put in place mechanisms to address some of these issues in our own department, but we endeavor to do better. 

    To our CSD students, colleagues, and alumni, we want you to know that we have not let the momentum of this summer pass us by and are working to reexamine and strengthen our department’s commitment to social justice, equity, and inclusion.

    In weekly conversations over the past month, for example, our CSD Alumni Board has organized a Racial Justice Action Committee and they will soon have an online resource for our St. John’s CSD community devoted to antiracism action items. Our St. John’s NSSLHA chapters are also planning antiracism activities for next semester.

    At the department level, we have formed an Antiracism Task Force focused on antiracism education, support, and the dismantling of policies that contribute to racial bias and discrimination both within our department and across our discipline. Many have signed petitions requesting formal antiracism policies at both SJU and ASHA/CAA/CAPCSD. In a few weeks, many of our faculty members will be attending a 2-part workshop “Addressing Racism in CSD Education.”

    In a profession devoted to communication, we recognize that silence can sometimes be misinterpreted. We also recognize the power of lifting voices. In the coming weeks, we will begin alerting you all to antiracism actions that you can take part in. We invite all of you to join us in our commitment to listening, learning, acting, and speaking out.

    Let’s light a torch for the future!

    July 28, 2020

    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

    Anti-Asian Racism Statement

    Dear Students, Faculty, Alumni, Staff and Administrators,

    As you probably know, there has been a sharp uptick in anti-Asian racism and hate crimes around the country, and especially here in New York City. The Atlanta murders last week of eight women, including six women of Asian descent, brought this into national focus. On behalf of our department, we are greatly saddened by the rise in racism towards our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) friends and neighbors and are sickened by these targeted atrocities.

    The St. John’s University Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders stands in solidarity with our Asian and AAPI students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni, as well as Asian and AAPI colleagues in our local and national CSD communities. We reaffirm our commitment to step up and speak out against hate, violence, and racism wherever it exists. We strive to assist our Department in fulfilling its mission to cultivate culturally competent practitioners and we are guided by Vincentian principles to seek social justice through concrete actions.

    We also fully support the anti-Asian racism statements from ASHA and St. John’s University President Shanley.

    Here are four concrete actions you can take now:

    Finally, if you need support, St. John’s has compiled a list of mental health and self-care resources available for the Asian and AAPI communities. Reach out. Share widely.

    Respectfully,

    Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Communication Sciences and Disorders Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

    St. John’s University

    March 22, 2021

     

     

     

    Department of Communication Studiese

    St. John's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

    Statement by faculty from the Department of Communication Studies on injustice and oppression.

    Faculty, staff, from the Department of Communication Studies acknowledge that educators must play a critical role in disrupting racism. Racism is racial injustices that have lingered far too long within the doors of education and university boundaries. We advocate for changes in curriculum and pedagogy that value and advance the needs of minoritized students, staff, and faculty.

    As scholars of communication, faculty from the Department of Communication Studies examine the ways in which humans create meaning, form human relationships, and manage conflict in a variety of contexts, cultures, and environments. The highest priority for scholars of communication is to understand communicative situations and enact ethical communicative practices. However, there are times in which humans fail to hit that mark.

    To improve upon our practices as ethical communicators, faculty from the Department of  Communication Studies will find ways to transcend our moments of difference to create healthy communicative practices that will provide a foundation for a multicultural community. Faculty will review its pedagogical, theoretical, and Department commitments, to improve ethical communication to counter multiple acts of oppression as seen through racism, misogyny, bigotry, stigma, bias, discrimination, dogmatism, sexism, and patriarchy.

    For the Department’s faculty and students to learn how to better evaluate and respond to controversies, provide meaningful commentary upon social, intercultural, and interpersonal engagements, and exercise sensitivity to the myriad of ways we exist in and make sense of the world, the Department commits itself to:

    • Acknowledge and address our own department implicit or explicit biases.
    • Reviewing course offerings to better understand and address issues of systematic racism, oppression, injustice, and exclusion.
    • Include research from scholars who publish in the areas of systematic racism, oppression, injustice, and exclusion.
    • Organize Department meetings to review pedagogical practices to see how we, as a faculty, can improve in the classroom for all our students.
    • Organize Department Symposiums to hear from minoritized (or BIPOC) students about the issues that they face at SJU
    • Work to recruit and hire more BIPOC faculty members

    ​​​​The Department of Communication Studies condemns all forms of racism, injustice, and oppression. We remain committed to learn with and from our students as we strive to become ethical communicators to improve upon our democratic practices necessary to sustain a just world.

    April 22, 2022

    Department of English
    St. John’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

     

    As faculty in the English department at St. John’s:

    1.    We affirm that Black lives matter and that silence is not an option.
    2.    We recognize that many of us teach and write about English and U.S. cultures that have systematically devalued Black lives.
    3.    We recognize that the English and U. S. cultures embedded in our curricula have privileged whiteness as a starting point for understanding the world.
    4.    We believe that our teaching must analyze and expose anti-Blackness and other forms of racial oppression. We believe that our curricula need to reflect the realities of our students, our communities, and our world.
    5.    We commit to analyzing and combating racist practices as a department - culturally, socially, linguistically, academically, and professionally - in all hiring, teaching, writing, research, and work spaces for students, staff, and faculty in all programs on all campuses (as specified below in point #12).
    6.    We know that we need to better recruit, retain, and support Black and other historically underrepresented faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates. We commit to reviewing our departmental hiring, retention, and tenure and promotion practices for both historical and contemporary anti-Blackness, so that, in line with the antiracist training we receive, we may implement hiring, retention, and tenure and promotion practices (a) to increase the number of Black faculty, in particular, in addition to faculty from other marginalized communities, and other faculty of color; and (b) to support these faculty in concrete ways (e.g. research support, shared mentorship) to facilitate their flourishing as they move through tenure and promotion processes.
    7.    We will continue to address our approaches to pedagogy in order to resist/dismantle anti-Black and other racist actions, contexts, and literacies. Recognizing that Black Studies is a field of study that takes training, and that white and non-Black faculty should not simply “add” Black content, non-Black faculty commit to significant training in the long tradition of anti-racism and critical whiteness studies.
    8.    Assistant Chair will work closely with adjunct and graduate instructors of English 1100c (Literature in a Global Context) to identify and dismantle anti-Black teaching practices; develop and enhance racial literacies; and develop curriculum around anti-Blackness and Black empowerment.
    9.    Full-time faculty will review and rethink our undergraduate major and minor requirements on a yearly basis (at our annual faculty retreat) to ensure our curriculum enacts anti-racist and social justice objectives. Individual faculty will continually rethink and recommit to innovating their courses to pursue anti-racist and social justice goals - through conference attendance, self-education, small reading groups, collaboration, and discussion. When available, we will attend workshops sponsored by the SJU Office of Equity and Inclusion.
    10.    Together we will continue to review our departmental culture and community practices in order to reinforce safe and equitable learning and work spaces for undergraduates, graduate students, contingent faculty, staff, and administrators. We can strengthen our departmental commitments through active advising and check-ins for students, ongoing feedback (see point #12, below), and public events that foreground anti-racism, for example.
    11.    We are committed to supporting students, staff, administrators, and fellow faculty against racism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of oppression and injustice. For example, we will attend meetings of Black student-led organizations whenever requested; regularly check in with student organization leadership to see what support they envision; and participate in available student-led trainings in order to learn from student activists.
    12.    We commit to action including, but not limited to:

    •    reading/re-reading Carmen Kynard’s article “Teaching While Black,” which details the racist structures in the SJU writing programs, English Department, and across the university; and evaluating whether our department and other sectors of the university have implemented structural change, noting that eradicating these structures requires institutional reform and participation from the entire community.

    •    requesting anti-racist training from the Provost’s office and other relevant offices (for example, Whiteness at Work) in order to begin to come to terms with the ways we perpetuate, internalize, and externalize anti-Blackness.

    •    implementing an anonymous survey system by which Black, Indigenous, and People of Color students and alums can yearly evaluate their experience in the department; publishing these results; developing actionable items from them.

    Resources via stjenglish.com:
    Immediate action list: Resources for Accountability and Actions for Black Lives
    Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources
    Anti-Racism Resources for White People
    Helms’ White Identity Development

    Curriculum resources for sources on anti-Blackness and Black empowerment in English 1100c (Literature in a Global Context) and other courses:
    1. Global Black Lives Matter reading list
    2. Citizen reading list

    Other resources:
    HCommons Anti-Racist Resources for 2020-2021
    LA Review of Books Racial Equity Reading List
    Resources on Anti-Blackness in the Asian American Community
    P. Gabrielle Foreman, et al. Community-sourced document, “Writing about Slavery/Teaching about Slavery”
    Whiteness at Work June 2020 webinar video

     

     

     

     

     

    Department of Sociology and Anthropology
    St. John’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
    Position Statement and Action Plan to Dismantle Oppression: Follow up

    Originally circulated July 6, 2020.

    Times of crisis offer opportunities to create change. The global pandemic has brought to the fore pre-existing social inequalities along economic, racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, age, abilities and other intersecting lines. The pandemic exposed the crude mechanisms by which American-style capitalism intersecting with structural racism and sexism systematically exploits the poorest and deems marginalized communities disposable while also revealing the persistence of gender violence. Sociologists, anthropologists and other social scientists and humanists have pointed to these critical issues for decades, if not centuries. At this moment we renew our responsibility to take action and push harder for the social changes we believe are critical to a free society.

    The present manifestation of unsustainable inequalities has mobilized people across the world. A broader coalition of people are voicing their demands to reform unequal systems and organizing collectively to push for action at the governmental level. In the United States, the disproportionate negative effect of the pandemic on African American and other communities of color combined with the killing of George Floyd by police brought people to the streets to say No More, joining the #BlackLivesMatter and allied movements like #SayHerName, #TransBlackLivesMatter, Color of Change and Black Alliance for Just Immigration. These groups have strengthened their many years of Anti-Racist activism denouncing injustice and police brutality against Black and Brown lives after the murders of people like Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Atatiana Jefferson, Stephon Clark, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, and unfortunately, many, many others(Know Their Names).

    As faculty of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology we recognize how our own students and their families have been affected by this multifaceted crisis, and we have actively worked to assist them in navigating their situations. We are still carefully listening and ready to help, as we know this crisis and its effects are ongoing. Also, we know that many are actively involved in collective efforts to create social change for racial equality and justice. We support these efforts, and in this spirit, we have created the following statement and plan of action to address current issues and help in dismantling intersecting global oppressions.

    We believe that:

    • BlackLivesMatter
    • No matter our background, identity or position within national and international social hierarchies, we are all human and must be respected with dignity
    • Health rights are human rights - Universal healthcare should be implemented
    • Racism is intolerable and White Supremacy must be systematically dismantled
    • Our aspirations should not be limited to the mere absence of racism, but we must instead commit to active anti-racism
    • Anti-racism requires recognition and dismantling of white privilege along with White Supremacy, acknowledgement of racial harm, and concrete anti-racist action in personal and systemic contexts that might at times create discomfort
    • Police brutality, violence by government agents, and institutional racism against Black and Brown Lives as well as any Minoritized and Marginalized Lives must end
    • Gender violence is not to be tolerated and proactive measures must be taken to prevent and restore gender violence survivors
    • Bystander silence is violence and perpetuates racial, ethnic, gender, class and other systems and practices of oppression
    • Inequality regimes and systems of power are all-encompassing and therefore, we must reflect on where we stand and how we make use of the power we have
    • Politicians and government officials must be held accountable
    • Participants in social movements must be protected from police and state violence
    • Peaceful collective action and restorative justice are more conducive to eliminate violence and oppression
    • Complexities are to be recognized to be able to form constructive and durable coalitions along various social constructs
    • Essentialisms should be disrupted to build bridges across groups and communities and gather strength against power elites
    • A global and intersectional understanding of the political economy of social inequalities is crucial to foster good strategies for social change
    • Individual and collective agency, people’s power to do otherwise is key to dismantle oppressions as our lives are not structurally predetermined but socially ordered

    As faculty, we understand that the educational system, academia, teaching and research are part and parcel of the very systems of inequality we are trying to dismantle. Therefore, we commit to reflect upon the dynamics and policies that perpetuate inequality within our own work environment and revise our curriculum, syllabi, pedagogies and research to decolonize their content. For this, we plan to hold a series of workshops to think through these issues and renew our academic labor to ensure that we are not recreating inequalities and injustices.

    In the upcoming academic year, we are planning a series of events to collectively analyze current affairs. These events will include workshops and lectures on topics that will also be jointly decided with students and alumni. Surveys will be distributed to gather interests and plan accordingly. We also will develop a website that will include this statement and its updated versions as well as personal contributions by professors, students and alumni; a blog section where students, alumni and faculty will be able to participate and communicate; and a resource page where we will continue to add important materials and sources. Moreover, with students and alumni, we intend to develop a Wikipedia page as well as other group projects that will emerge from faculty/students/alumni interactions.

    Our position statement and action plan are living documents. We will revise these as time passes and events develop. We welcome feedback and input always and hope that the website will reflect these dynamic and collective processes in an inclusive and democratic manner.

    Please note: The original document included informational links and resources on Covid-19, George Floyd's protests, and racism.

    Department of Sociology and Anthropology’s Position Statement and Action Plan to Dismantle Oppression:
    Follow up

    February 18, 2021

    Six months have passed since we created and circulated our Position Statement and Action Plan. As promised, we have been involved in a series of activities to move forward with our action plan. So far, we held faculty meetings and participated in university and other academic, professional and community institutions’ initiatives to discuss the dynamics and policies that perpetuate inequality within and beyond our own work environment, and revise our curriculum, syllabi, pedagogies and research to decolonize their content.

    Moreover, we created a series of events to expand on our traditionally held Symposia, devoted to Dismantling Inequalities in Times of Crisis. The first event, on October 15ht, 2020, was a virtual workshop to discuss Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to be an Antiracist” book, where students and faculty met, watched his TedTalk and reflected on the ideas proposed. The second event, open to the public, on November 12th, 2020, was a virtual Guest Lecture by Dr. Andrea Boyles entitled “Race and Revolution: Understanding 21st Century Black Resistance in an Antebellum Climate,” where she presented new ideas based on her two books You Can’t Stop the Revolution! Community Disorder an Social Ties in Post-Ferguson America, and Race, Place, and Suburban Policing: Too Close for Comfort. The third event, to be held on March 4th, 2021, will focus on “Youth Antiracist Activism” with a panel formed by two alumnae and a current student from our Department: Chriss Sneed, Center for Urban and Racial Equity, Managing Director; Glynis Johns, Black Scranton Project, Director; and Claire Robinson, #BlackLivesMatter Activist and Community Movement Worker. A fourth event is being planned to look into Covid-19 & Inequalities towards the end of the semester.

    Last, we have been working on the development of a departmental website specifically devoted to “Crises, Inequalities and Social Change,” which includes our Position Statement and Action Plan, Resources, and Events. More importantly, the site will offer our Department’s Student EZine, which will showcase exemplary student work related to these issues, as well as a blog where faculty and students will exchange ideas and promote action.

    We recognize that there is still much to do, but we are enthusiastic with the positive reception that our events and curricular initiatives generated, as well as the forthcoming launching of our website, e-zine and blog. As we mentioned in our position statement, we welcome your input and participation. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

    The Faculty of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology

    In the upcoming academic year, we are planning a series of events to collectively analyze current affairs. These events will include workshops and lectures on topics that will also be jointly decided with students and alumni. Surveys will be distributed to gather interests and plan accordingly. We also will develop a website that will include this statement and its updated versions as well as personal contributions by professors, students and alumni; a blog section
    where students, alumni and faculty will be able to participate and communicate; and a resource page where we will continue to add important materials and sources. Moreover, with students and alumni, we intend to develop a Wikipedia page as well as other group projects that will emerge from faculty/students/alumni interactions.

    Department of Theology and Religious Studies
    St. John’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

    We, the faculty in the Department of Theology & Religious Studies at St. John’s University condemn all forms of racism. We recognize that racism is more than a failure of individual people or actions. It is a social sin deeply embedded in U.S. American culture, including our religious, social, political, economic, and educational institutions. With the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we affirm that racism is “a clear and present danger that must be met head on.” With Pope Francis, we affirm that “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.” We recognize that religion and religious scholarly disciplines are powerful media of both white supremacy and the work of anti-racism.  We commit to making our own specific contribution to the university’s anti-racism efforts.  

    Action Steps:

    A. Our department will actively partner with the Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion, the St. John’s College Antiracism, Equity & Inclusion Task Force, and other anti-racist initiatives of our university.

    B. We will use the Theology and Religious Studies department webpage and other platforms to spotlight department courses that either:

    1) focus specifically on race and racial justice OR

    2) demonstrate a deeply and consistently intersectional method of analysis (which requires foregrounding race as a fundamental dimension of any social (in)justice and major societal questions in the U.S.A. and throughout most of the modern era), OR

    3) have course outlines in which more than 50% of assigned course materials are by authors who are Black, indigenous, and members of other minoritized racial and ethnic groups.

    C. We will request a tenure-track position in Black Theologies and/or African American Religions, and another tenure-track position in Religions of Asia as our next two full-time hires.

    D. The department’s undergraduate educational policy committee will review our courses and our undergraduate major and minor requirements to make sure that they clearly include and implement anti-racist and social justice objectives. The department’s graduate educational policy committee will review our courses and our M.A. curriculum with the same aims. Department faculty members will commit to incorporating anti-racist and social justice goals in the courses they teach.

    E.    We commit to facilitating at least one public lecture and one forum open to students, faculty, administrators, and staff each year that focuses on religion, ethics, and anti-racism.

    F.     We will make available on our website (and in other media as appropriate) links to a curated list of theology and religious studies resources that employ an intersectional method of analysis and foreground issues of racial justice.  


    Institute for Core Studies 
    St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

    Antiracism Statement and Action Plan 

    We stand in support of the citywide, national, and global protests and demonstrations that have sprung up in the wake of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the ongoing police violence against people of color. We offer this statement to affirm that Black Lives Matter.

    Anti-blackness and racism are part of an interlocking network of oppressive structures that inform all aspects of life, including academic culture. Antiracism is central to St. John’s Catholic and Vincentian mission, as reflected in the senior leadership statement of June 6, 2020. As faculty of the Institute for Core Studies, it is our obligation to recognize and resist the “gatekeeping” function of core courses, which are steeped in a legacy of assimilation and acculturation to oppressive social norms such as whiteness, elitism, and monolingualism. We acknowledge this legacy and its pervasive impact. Often, we have fallen short in centering Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) voices and perspectives. Nevertheless, we affirm our commitment to making university education a source for transformation and liberation for all students. Acknowledging and dismantling racism in our classrooms, our scholarship, and our institutional relationships is an ongoing activity that requires a lifelong commitment.

    We, therefore, commit to the following: 

    ICS curricula, pedagogy, and assessment must include BIPOC and other marginalized perspectives.

    As a standing agenda item at faculty meetings, ICS faculty will interrogate how racism and privilege are embedded in our curricula, disciplines, and learning environments. Informed by our shared learning, we will re-evaluate and implement pedagogies to promote antiracism.

    The ICS will create an antiracist consultation committee of faculty and others to 1) be available to full-time and adjunct ICS faculty for consultations about developing antiracist pedagogies and assignments; 2) invite students to share perspectives about racism and privilege in our curricula with the intention of having those perspectives inform our curricular plans; 3) encourage ICS faculty to engage critical race, ethnic, and gender studies work and share their efforts with the Institute so that we may learn together in community; 4) invite those with crucial expertise in antiracist social analysis, artistic production, and activism to discuss racism with students, both during class time and outside class; and 5) identify opportunities for students to learn about systemic racism and related issues through Academic Service Learning in ICS courses. We will implement and develop assessments for these initiatives, with an awareness of not unduly burdening BIPOC and minoritized students.

    ICS faculty are encouraged to offer one or more assignments within their courses that ask students to look at systemic racism and/or antiracist activism in social issues and careers relevant to the course. Topics may involve racial disparities, such as maternal death rates, the impact of Covid 19 and other diseases, food and housing insecurity, and arrest and imprisonment rates. In faculty meetings, we commit to regularly sharing our experiences asking students to analyze inequitable social patterns and how to fight against them. 

    ICS faculty will support antiracism workshops and reading groups developed by other groups at the University, including BIPOC and minoritized student groups, through our attendance and participation. 

    We acknowledge the overwhelming whiteness of faculty in the Institute for Core Studies, which does not reflect the identities of our students or of the city of our primary location. 1) We commit to reviewing ICS hiring, retention, and tenure and promotion practices of part-time and full-time faculty for anti-Blackness and other forms of racism, seeking to increase the number of BIPOC faculty, and faculty from other minoritized communities. 2) We will support pre-tenure faculty by making their research an ICS priority, recognizing service initiated by the faculty, especially those that align with Equity and Inclusion initiatives, and otherwise mentor and prioritize pre-tenure colleagues’ strategic service, research, and teaching opportunities. 

    To undergird and support the above commitments, ICS strongly encourages all faculty to engage in the personal work and development necessary to understand where we each hold power and privilege, the impact of intersecting identities we may hold, white fragility, and how it impacts students, faculty colleagues, staff and administrators, and to practice disrupting racist interactions and practices. Further, we will strive to be open to feedback on those occasions when we are the ones engaging in racist behavior. We will build our capacity for dialogue and restorative justice conversations. We will seek guidance and support from the Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion, the Equity and Inclusion Council, and the Office of Equity and Inclusion in these efforts. 

     This is a living document that the ICS faculty plan to update as needed. 

    Updated September 14, 2020