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Commission for Equity, Opportunity, and Diversity issues statement of support for Juneteenth

From: Commission for Equity, Opportunity, and Diversity

June 19, 2020

To the university community,

While the Commission for Equity, Opportunity, and Diversity (CEOD) has officially adjourned for the academic year, as the incoming chair and vice-chair of the commission, we feel it is important to issue a statement in recognition of Juneteenth. Juneteenth is an American holiday recognizing the significance of June 19, 1865, the day the last enslaved Americans learned they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863.   At this critical time in our nation’s history, it is more important than ever that we come together as a community to uplift Juneteenth.  The CEOD recognizes this as an opportunity to learn more about American history, specifically the untold or forgotten narratives surrounding the history of the enslavement of Black and African-American people. Additionally, the CEOD acknowledges this as an opportunity to open dialogue and generate action around creating a more just and equitable society and community for all people.  In this spirit, we reaffirm the Principles of Community and recommit to making Virginia Tech an anti-racist community.

As the incoming chair and vice-chair, we pledge to engage in efforts around anti-racism that are forthcoming within the community such as book circles, supporting InclusiveVT week, and programs occurring in the Fall.  We also commit to engaging with members of the CEOD to learn more about the work of the Council on VT History, specifically the renaming of Lee Hall which President Sands has asked to be reviewed again. In alignment with our mission, we will also work with the Office of Equity and Accessibility to review updates to affirmative action, Title IX, and campus accessibility so that we can find opportunities to champion change. We will recommend our members make time for personal or small group study of books such as How to be an Antiracist and Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram Kendi.

As part of the CEOD’s work within the community, we have supported the resolution for Indigenous People’s Day, reviewed and made recommendations for a more Inclusive Principles of Community, and annually acknowledge leaders in this work within the community through the recognition of Principles of Community awards.

The CEOD is part of Virginia Tech’s shared governance structure with a charge to advise the President’s Inclusion and Diversity Executive Council and to study, formulate, and recommend to University Council policies and procedures as they relate to the university’s responsibilities regarding equal opportunity, affirmative action, accessibility, compliance, diversity, and inclusion.  Areas for consideration include recruitment, retention, and advancement of faculty, staff, and students, in a manner consistent with the university’s principles of community and commitment to equal opportunity and access.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the CEOD or partnering with us, please contact Christa Miller, Chair, at millerch@vt.edu.

To learn more about the history of Juneteenth, local celebrations, and ways in which you can support Juneteenth, please see the information available on the InclusiveVT website.

Sincerely,

Christa Miller, incoming chair

Gabby McCollum, incoming vice-chair