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MSU Denver

Land Acknowledgment

Land Acknowledgment

The MSU Denver Writing Center wishes to acknowledge those who came before us and lived on this land, the Cheyenne and Arapaho. The Cheyenne and the Arapaho have both been displaced many times via US Government treaties. In 1851, parts of Colorado, including the land our campus sits on, was promised to both tribes. However, due to the incoming gold rush and White settlement, these promises were not kept. The tribes were then forcefully relocated from their land in 1867 to Oklahoma, where they remain in small numbers on reservations in the state today.

The MSU Denver Writing Center also recognizes that the creation of our campus, starting in 1973, displaced not only the working poor and immigrants living in the Auraria neighborhood, but also small businesses and industry as well. By displacing so many, this campus effectively moved or destroyed the culture, community, and tradition of this land.

We are fortunate to call Auraria and MSU Denver a place of learning and inclusion, but we also recognize the loss of so many different people for us to have this opportunity. We are grateful to have the ability to work and learn on this land, and continuously strive to implement practices within this meeting place that break down colonial thinking and its effects. As the most recent stewards of this land, we must never forget the ones who came before us or their ancestors who are still with us. There are many ways to support Indigenous peoples today, including the Cheyenne and Arapaho, at The American Indian College FundAssociation on American Indian Affairs, or the Native American Rights Fund.

Writing Center Statement on Antiracism

The MSU Denver Writing Center supports Black Lives Matter and is committed to anti-racism. We are proud of the statements issued by our university and fully support them (which can be found here and here). We particularly commend the President and the MSU Denver Board of Trustees for their commitments to use the university system for “constructive social and political change” and, to that end, we are now, and have always been committed to creating an anti-racist environment in the writing center and will become even more active in the university community in these pursuits. We also stand by the resolution of the Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy and the Africana and Chicana/o Studies Departments as they strive to make MSU Denver more equitable.

We recognize that the police have murdered countless brown and Black people, including George Floyd, Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Atatiana Jefferson. We mourn the countless other Black, Brown and Indigenous victims, the numbers of which are growing every day. We acknowledge that systemic racism and police brutality are the causes of these deaths. In order to address these tragedies and enact justice, we support efforts by the Black community to dismantle white supremacy, and to end police violence. We support an overhaul of the current racist systems in our society, including our government and criminal justice system, and believe that such change cannot come soon enough.

We recognize the role racism plays in shaping educational systems, including here at MSU Denver. Because we focus on writing, we are deeply aware of the role language plays in shaping thought and power structures. Language and our attitudes toward spoken and written language are both vehicles for and symptoms of systemic and implicit racism. As writing professionals, we are called to value the language of Black, Brown, and Indigenous groups and dismantle the white supremacy embedded in social, academic, and professional communities.

In our commitment to anti-racist practices we will take concrete, actionable steps to challenge and dismantle practices that value white voices and uphold white supremacy over Black, Brown, and Indigenous voices in our community. (See below for a list of tangible actions)

We will continue to:

  1. Acknowledge our complicity, as individuals and as a writing center, in upholding and circulating white supremacist language attitudes and practices.
  2. Define our complicity as a racist, harmful practice that we must stop.
  3. Diversify writing center staff, leadership, and practices.
  4. Help faculty identify and revise assignments and grading rubrics that are embedded with racism, including approaches to grammar instruction and assessment.
  5. Collaborate with campus and community departments and organizations to facilitate anti-racist workshops and foster awareness of the politics of language.
  6. Embed anti-racism theory and practice in all staff education and training.
  7. Build on programs such as RIDES and Frederick Douglass Day.
  8. Build a resource library on Black, Brown, and Indigenous topics and pedagogy.
  9. Privilege Black-, Brown-, and Indigenous-owned businesses in purchasing decisions.
  10. Accept that we will make mistakes, receive criticism humbly and with gratitude, grow from our missteps, and remain open to suggestions.

To that end, we welcome any and all feedback about this policy and/or our actions. Please let us know how we’re doing responding to our Antiracist Feedback Form.

The Writing Center’s Antiracist Practical Applications

What we are doing to integrate antiracist practice in the Writing Center

It is important to us that we do not just give lip service to the idea of antiracism, but take concrete action to be an antiracist organization. To that end we have taken these steps, so far. We welcome any suggestions from the community, as well.

The first step was to establish the CIDCA Committee who is:

  1. Reading How to be an Antiracist together to brainstorm ways to incorporate Kendi’s ideas into writing center practices.
  2. Planning a workshop or series of writing center staff workshops surrounding Kendi’s book
  3. Writing Blurbs for the Writing Center staff weekly newsletter, the Tuesday Tune-Up, to disseminate information to staff and prompt self-reflexivity as an organization regarding anti-racist policy and practice.
  4. Establishing a relationship with other Diversity and Inclusion committees on campus to partner on activities

Activities that came out of the CIDCA committee and other staff initiatives include:

  1. Establishing the Antiracist Book Club on Meetup and Facebook that meets the last Thursday of every month and is open to anyone who would like to join.
  2. Piloting a program to facilitate departmental presentations on antiracist writing pedagogy
  3. Partnering with the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design on faculty training for how to use Originality Checker with an emphasis on social and restorative justice
  4. Partner with Prison Pen-Pal program– link with “Black and Pink”
  5. Antiracist praxis on Writing Center’s social media
  6. Currently reviewing all of our front-facing and staff documents and websites for references to Standard Academic English (SAE) and adding an asterix (*SAE), which is a linguistic sign indicating that the concept is not “real” but theoretical.

The RIDES Program

The RIDES program is designed for culturally and linguistically diverse learners who lack confidence in their English writing skills.

The RIDES Program

Accessibility

The MSU Denver Writing Center is committed to making our space, our resources, and our website accessible and inviting for the entire MSU Denver community.

We believe “accessibility” is both an attitude and a process. As an attitude, it encompasses ways of thinking about who we are and who we serve. As a process, it means considering how we serve and welcome the MSU Denver community. We believe “accessibility” is a process of constant tinkering and improvement.


Goals for accessibility:

  • The built environment of the Writing Center is inviting, comfortable, and easy to access for all individuals.
  • The website is inviting and easy to navigate, with attention to screen reader conventions and sensitivity toward the needs of people with vision and cognitive impairments.
  • Every individual who enters the Writing Center or uses our website feels welcomed.


What we do to make our center more accessible:

  • All of our Writing Center location computers have Read/Write installed
  • We have an accessible keyboard for staff or students in the JSSB location (students can request)
  • We provide printouts of all of our presentations at staff workshops and student seminars for the visually impaired
  • We offer alternative options for online sessions (See Virtual Appointment Accessibility, below).


Virtual Appointment Accessibility

The MSU Denver Writing Center uses the mywconline platform for scheduling and holding virtual sessions. We recognize that many screen readers may not work with the platform. If you are using a screen reader or need any other accommodation, please let us know. We can move your session to Microsoft Teams or Zoom.


If you have suggestions for how we can improve the accessibility of our built space, website, or any other aspect of the MSU Denver Writing Center, or if there is something that hinders your access to our built space or website, please email us.

Thank you!

Elizabeth Kleinfeld
Writing Center Director