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Office of the Provost Antiracism Statement and Action Plan

Antiracism Statement

The first Bishop of Brooklyn, Reverend John Loughlin invited the Vincentian Fathers to establish an institution of higher education.  Since 1870, the year of our official founding, St. John’s has impacted the world through our curriculum focused on knowledge acquisition and moral development. Just as the University responded to a specific need, we must embrace our responsibility now as a Vincentian institution to take action in ways we have never done so before.

To be successful in fulfilling our purpose, the Office of the Provost will lead and support all efforts to eliminate racism wherever it exists within our institution. We recognize that racism can by systemic, intentional and unconscious to us individually and collectively. We therefore commit to fully engaging in examining our institution’s ideology, curriculum, policies and practices. 

We will intentionally include a diversity of perspectives in our discussions to ensure racism is identified and dismantled wherever it exists. Our work will be grounded in our University’s mission which in part states, “We embrace the Judeo-Christian ideals of respect for the rights and dignity of every person….”

While we recognize our efforts will evolve, our antiracist action plan is outlined below.  This plan will serve as our guide as we seek to ensure a respectful and inclusive environment for all. We invite every member of the St. John’s community to join in meeting the needs ahead.  We recognize individual contributions will lead to our institution’s success in becoming an antiracist institution and the long-term change we seek to achieve in our society as a whole.

Antiracism Action Plan and Initiatives

Recognizing the importance of fully understanding the need and ways in which St. John’s University can become an antiracist institution, a planning group/sub-committee from the Office of the Provost consisting of Drs. Kaplan, McKenzie and Grogan volunteered to lead and coordinate our discussions. It is the expectation that through our ongoing dialogue in the Office of the Provost, greater understanding and sensitivity among staff members will be achieved.  As a result, it is also an expectation that all decisions, policies, practices and communications, will be viewed through a lens seeking to achieve equity at St. John’s for all. 

    The immediate goals of our efforts are:

    1. Increasing the level of awareness and knowledge for Office of the Provost staff regarding issues of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Anti-Racism issues by providing ongoing discussion and educational opportunities
    2. Supporting overall institutional efforts involving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Anti-Racism efforts and assisting in the development of an overall institutional plan connected to our institutional mission

    Process and Progress

    Upon the signing of the Senior Leadership Statement on becoming an antiracist institution (June 6, 2020), and in adherence to what the Statement included, we immediately added a standing agenda item to our staff meetings. As the first two conversations highlighted below were enlightening, thought provoking and highly engaging, we decided to hold separate meetings moving forward solely focused on our antiracism efforts. We believe this strategy is warranted and will ensure the proper time and space is devoted to our ongoing efforts.

    During the 2020 – 2021 academic year, we held department workshops about:

    1. Becoming fluent in addressing issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion
    2. Discussing our earliest individual memories of racial awareness and exploring how those experiences shaped our perspectives and biases, and how they may still have an impact on our thoughts and actions.
    3. Examining the content, implications and intent of the Senior Leadership Statement on becoming an antiracist institution; identifying systemic racism and how it different from individual acts of bias and discrimination; re-examining institutional practices and how they may support systems of racism at St. John's.  
    4. Examining our personal identities, how personal identity influences our own experience, and how we interact with each other based on personal identities.
    5. Perspective-taking and empathy building.
    6. Exploring privilege by reflecting on our own experiences at the university. We reacted and discussed statements such as "Equal opportunity exists for all at St. John's."
    7. Microaggressions
    8. Stereotypes, using a “Trading Places” activity that examines our willingness to take on a different identity.

    Our anticipated action plan for the 2021-2022 academic year includes the following topics:

    • Creating a list of external and internal resources to assist in knowledge acquisition and skill development
    • Selecting a book that can be used to foster further discussion and professional development in the spring semester and beyond.
    • Reflection on our work in the 2021-2021 academic year and determining an action plan for the 2022-2023 academic year.

    Academic and Administrative Unit Antiracism Plans

    The Office of the Provost will also provide the support necessary to ensure that our schools, colleges, and administrative departments develop, implement, and benchmark antiracism action plans. In addition to reading the progress memos submitted by deans and department heads to the Office of the Provost, you can learn more about each academic and administrative unit's progress on their websites.

    Colleges and Schools

    Administrative Units