Dear Faculty, Staff, Students, and Alumni,
As social work educators, we teach empowerment and advocacy. Many within our community have brought the need to address racist behavior and systemic racism to the forefront. As the Dean of the School of Social Work, I wholeheartedly agree that changes must take place to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive Tulane University and society.
We must listen to, acknowledge, and thoroughly examine reports of individual actions and institutional practices that are racist or oppressive. To be anti-racist, we must be self-reflective, contemplative, vigilant, and action-oriented. We must, as faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community stakeholders, carry today’s momentum toward racial equity and social justice by examining the ways racism and oppression pervade and persist and then act to dismantle them.
To that end, I’ve formed a Task Force to implement the recommendations made by the “Difficult Conversations” workgroup who has been examining the issues of racism, power, privilege, and oppression within the School of Social Work and its curriculum. The conversations in this area have been ongoing over the last year, and we are accelerating the process to gather additional information and develop the best ways to carry out the recommendations. We owe a debt of gratitude to the workgroup, which included faculty, staff, students, and alumni. This new Task Force will have a dedicated time at all faculty meetings to report and make recommendations on the progress and future work.
We have already implemented one of the workgroup’s recommendations by creating a website for anti-racism resources, and the Task Force will support a plan for building upon the Empowering Change website. The Task Force will also be given substantial financial resources and time to actualize change needed at all levels of the School of Social Work.
Dr. Reginald Parquet and Dr. Deidre Hayes have graciously agreed to co-chair this Task Force, and they will be reaching out to faculty, staff, students, alumni, and members of the community to support the Task Force’s work. This Task Force is an independent entity that advises the School's Administration and will provide regular reports. You can expect updates and action on an ongoing basis, and we will endeavor to enact many of the recommendations prior to September 30.
Those with recommendations on institutional change can convey them to Dr. Parquet and Dr. Hayes via email. Please note, however, that if you experience or witness individual racism, discrimination, threats of violence, or violence, please report it to tulane.edu/concerns so that it can be dealt with swiftly.
Racism in many forms exists in our communities, and only together can we make lasting change to create an anti-racist environment of which we can all be proud. We can and will do better!
Patrick S. Bordnick, MPH, PhD
Dean and Professor, Tulane School of Social Work