College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement
“The University remains committed to addressing systemic racism, white supremacy, marginalization, inequity and the role of power and privilege in our communities. We have a responsibility and opportunity to break down systemic racism while simultaneously building a more equitable and inclusive MSU Denver community.” – President Janine Davidson, April 20, 2021
Metropolitan State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion has provided the campus community with a broad framework and definitions of equity, diversity, and inclusion in their 2020-2021 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Report. MSU Denver acknowledges the indigenous people and land of Auraria and the broader Denver area through a land acknowledgment statement. Our college uses these artifacts as a foundational source in developing purpose, meaning, and objectives for our own DEI work. Our statement reflects MSU Denver’s values through a lens of the college disciplines: humanities (letters), arts, and sciences.
Building on the spirit of the commitment by our University, the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences embraces and celebrates the diverse, intersectional identities of our students, faculty, and staff. It is one of our sources of strength. We recognize true equity and access require more than a mere display of diverse representation in our community’s backgrounds, identities, and perspectives; it requires meaningful and consistent commitment to educate, learn, and evolve.
We work to create a community where all members can thrive through belonging, expression, and positive influence in shaping one other. We value the expertise that marginalized lived experiences create, and we work to bring that expertise to the center of our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
In a statement to the campus community on April 21, 2021, President Davidson made a pledge: “We must continue to move beyond statements toward action, and we will.”
This vision gives us a starting point for the CLAS community. It represents our shared understanding, values, and commitment to action. We strive to act in ways that combat oppression in its ideological, interpersonal, institutional, and internalized manifestations.¹
Our college is expansive. It houses the foundation of all human learning through the arts, humanities, and sciences. This foundation unites us across disciplines and enables us to celebrate and act on our shared values. At the core of these values is the belief that diversity across social identities, including but not limited to: race, ethnicity, class, gender, gender identity, sexuality, ability, religion, and nationality can and does create a strong and vibrant college community.
While diversity brings immense value to our campus community, diversity without equity is not sustainable, nor is it just. Equity requires that we provide resources and opportunities necessary for each individual to achieve their goals and aspirations.
Understandings of diversity, equity, and inclusion are intellectually demanding and constantly evolving. As such, our beliefs, assumptions, and practices must also be nimble, so that we meet our communities needs within a contemporary and modern framework. Therefore, this statement serves as a living document and initial step in our work, accompanied by a promise to modify as it becomes necessary over time.
- Structures of power and privilege need to be deeply understood by all members of our community.
- Systemic and institutional racism causes trauma.
- Present and historical systems of oppression and marginalization permeate all levels of society.
- Denver has a long-standing history of racism, including the presence of the KKK and other white supremacist groups.
- The creation of MSU Denver and the Auraria campus displaced an entire community, causing significant harm to individuals, their families, and future generations.
- There are systemic barriers to education.
- Academic programs have long participated in systemic prioritization of Eurocentric perspectives which gives an incomplete view of the liberal arts and sciences, making it either undesirable or unattainable for a large number of students.
- Teachers and students bring legacies of power, privilege, and oppression to the classroom, and these legacies impact educational experiences in tangible and structural ways.
- An educational experience centered in learning about our humanity, the humanity of others, human forms of expression, and the natural world that provides skills useful to students’ goals.
- Students, staff, and faculty of all social identities.
- Contributions from and expertise of people with diverse identities.
- The strengths multiple perspectives bring to the learning process.
- An atmosphere of mutual respect.
- Engaging in courageous conversations.
- Constructive and consistent dialogue.
- Collaboration and collective action to promote an inclusive, equitable, and diverse environment among students, staff, faculty and administrators.
- Empowering all community members to hold or take space.
- Denver’s long-standing and culturally enriching history of political organizing and social change movements.
We strive to...
- Develop an inclusive and equitable culture of belonging that all community members can invest in, shape, and be shaped by.
- Embrace all social identities.
- Examine and challenge our own biases and beliefs.
- Promote the diversity of backgrounds, opinions, and ideas that enrich the culture of individual departments within CLAS, and the college as a whole.
- Explore, promote, and create channels of meaningful dialogue that focus on issues of interpersonal and structural diversity and equity.
- Promote and teach our students a nuanced understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Deeply question structures of power and privilege through listening to understand, engaging in a constructive manner, and acting with intent.
- Historical injustices by increasing support for individuals historically excluded from academic institutions.
- Repair and address inequalities resulting from historic injustices.
- Practice inclusive and representational leadership.
- Follow the lead of departments, offices, and organizations on campus who have been consistently and actively invested in this work.
- Develop a culturally responsive and inclusive curriculum that recognizes and meets the needs, views, experiences, and particular challenges of all students.²
- Thoughtfully and effectively collaborate in anti-racist action on campus and in our broader community.
- Foster or mend relationships between the campus and the surrounding communities through consistent dialogue.
¹The Four I’s of Oppression
²Culturally Responsive & Inclusive Curriculum Resources: Creating Culturally Responsive Curriculum
We understand the “living” and fluid nature of this document. The space and opportunity for continuous feedback is always welcome.