Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Elijah McClain. These and countless more examples of horrific police brutality and acts of violence perpetrated against Black people compel us to authentically share our commitments to combat all forms of racism, including institutional racism and the devastating harm that it causes.

While the recent horrific murders are not new, the Dean of Students Office and the Student Care Center are motivated to publicly share our work and thoughts now after taking time to reflect on our work, power, and privilege, and to discuss actionable steps we can take as a team. We acknowledge that the systems and structures in place in higher education are based on a tradition of racist and white supremacist ideals.

We recognize the problematic nature of this and are working to understand and atone for the impact on students. We see the experiences of MSU Denver’s students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who are adversely affected by the systemic racism in our society. Our commitment, as professional staff within the Dean of Students Office and Student Care Center, to students is centered on identifying, altering, and removing barriers to success that were created with not all students in mind.

We are actively working to understand and reverse the impacts of systemic racism and oppression, how we perpetuate it, and how we can dismantle it at MSU Denver and beyond. We know we have a lot of work to do. To create sustained change within the University, the Dean of Students Office and Student Care Center commit to engaging in the following:

  • Addressing our privilege, both personally and professionally, when engaging in work with students and colleagues. We will do this by initiating discussions that acknowledge the privileged identities we bring with those we interact with directly in meetings/forums. We understand these conversations are difficult but essential to our work.
  • Work to involve, recruit, hire, retain staff (professional and student) who closely reflect the demographics of the MSU Denver student body.
  • Ensure the experiences and perspectives of our BIPOC student, staff, and faculty voices are heard on new initiatives or programming decisions through committee involvement and feedback forums.
  • Re-Creating a CARE Referral process that allows for a more welcoming and inclusive environment for students to get connected to our office.
  • Publishing reports to ensure transparency. Examples of the type of data shared; how many students we serve, food pantry statistics, and the Student Emergency Retention Fund.
  • Reviewing the structures and language within the Student Code of Conduct, identifying where processes may mirror the criminal justice system, remove problematic areas of the code, and reframe the code through an anti-racist lens and with the goal of being more restorative.
  • Elevating student perspectives in the development of the Dialogues program, training, and positioning them as facilitators
  • Rather than sole reliance on the police, identify and use alternative methods of support in crisis situations to promote student safety and least potential harmful impacts on students and the community
  • Challenge our colleagues on campus, including our Auraria Campus Police Department colleagues with whom we work regularly, to combat the ways in which racism and other forms of hatred show up on campus and to make similar commitments to their own learning and justice-oriented action.

We commit to holding ourselves accountable to what we have outlined above by regularly revisiting the above-listed commitments each semester, calling one another in when we misstep or cause harm, taking steps to make repairs when we cause harm, and otherwise continuing this work, regardless of how difficult it may be or how busy we become.