Over four months ago, President McRobbie spoke to the Board of Trustees and outlined five diversity initiatives IU would implement. They include the Pandemic Health Disparities Fund, the IU Medical Grant, the Racial Justice Research Fund, the systematic review of named buildings and structures across all IU campuses, and IU’s antiracist agenda.
“We are extremely proud of our antiracist initiatives,” said James C. Wimbush, vice president for diversity, equity, and multicultural affairs, dean of The University Graduate School, and Johnson Chair for Diversity and Leadership. “Associate Vice President Lemuel Watson has done a wonderful job creating an open dialogue and working with numerous offices and departments throughout the university to best address the systemic issues still present within the university.”
The antiracist agenda is currently in the early stages of development. According to the antiracist framework document found here, the first of four scheduled phases is complete. Phase I centers around pre-planning and identifying the necessary components needed to remove systematic barriers. This segment includes conducting an inventory of all diversity, equity, and inclusion-related work on each campus and across all units, identifying collaborators, and defining the ultimate outcomes.
In Phase II, the focus is on data collection and identifying systemic obstacles within the IU system to make structural change. “It’s exciting work, and I am very pleased to be a part of this process to create a community of belonging,” Lemuel Watson, associate vice president for diversity, equity, and multicultural affairs, said. “And what I love about this process is how many people we invite to the table, wanting what is best for our students and the university while affirming diversity and inclusion matters.”
According to Watson, this current stage involves identifying gaps to fill, the challenges faced, and the resources needed. Watson claims this is very personal work not only for him but for everyone. “I feel that this is personal to anyone who is sincere in this work,” Watson said. “And I hope that this agenda helps everyone walk away with the right tools, compassion, and knowledge to carry on this work no matter where life takes them.”