Leadership comes in the moment. The University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana acknowledges that many moments have passed since the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others; there are times, such as these, that obligate listening before speaking, and thinking before acting. Having listened and thought, the College now speaks specifically, has thought strategically, and is poised to act deliberately. Our institution thrives in and respects the richness of educating individuals of all races, ethnicities, professions, faiths, and sexual orientations. Our campus has always taken great pride in being a reflection of the beautiful diversity of our region. We prefer action over written words.
Specifically, UAHT condemns racism in all forms and social injustice. We acknowledge the toll racism and prejudice has taken on this country we love and understand the emotions of anger, fear, and grief. We ask our students, employees, and members of the communities we serve to share how they were affected by the recent horrible acts of such evil, what support they need from UAHT, and what they would like to happen from this point forward. We encourage our faculty, staff, students, and communities to understand that #BlackLivesMatter, and until this is realized then we are doing disservice to the Black community and to the unity of all citizens. That is why we choose love over hate and celebrate all Americans’ first amendment rights to peacefully protest, to assemble, and to educate others about social injustice that many encounter in our country. We urge all to unite to help students and colleagues across all racial and ethnic groups to acknowledge the impact of racial violence and peacefully pursue all measures to achieve racial equality. We commit to supporting our local law enforcement agencies and security partners by facilitating de-escalation and anti-racial profiling and bias training while promoting opportunities for positive interactions between officers and students. We will stand alongside all interracial coalitions that aim to improve curriculum, programs, and instructional professions they encounter on campus. We commit to ensuring that our educational programs promote a shared prosperity for all equally.
Strategically, UAHT’s pledge to serve as a bridge is not one taken unconscientiously. Bridging inclusion and diversity as embedded equity practices systematically implements and assesses an institutional campus environment. Diversity coupled with inclusion nurtures an educational environment ideal for learners at all levels, the faculty to teach, the staff who support, and the students who learn. Diversity and inclusion is an organizational philosophy that strategically appreciates and respects individual differences, where people of varying backgrounds, interests, and experiences grow alongside one another in a secure, nurturing, and professional atmosphere. UAHT’s strategic aim has been, and remains, to create processes over philosophy and initiate action into the core structures of the College. As we continue to offer support and services to our students and community, we plan to introduce a strategic action plan to elevate our actions on racism and bias, and improve our outlook on diversity and inclusion.
Actively, UAHT will utilize the talents, skills, and ideas of members of various constituencies to enrich our environment for cultivating the personal growth, knowledge, and development of students through a diversified culture of learning. Coexistence on a campus of individuals from distinct backgrounds, different experiences, and divergent ideas requires hard work and commitment from all concerned.
- Chancellor’s Taskforce on Diversity and Inclusion – The institution has to allocate resources to train employees and educate students regarding issues surrounding a diverse population the taskforce will help the institution identify structural and institutional practices that do not support equity and social justice. The committee will also promote opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to understand others better and ensure a perpetual practice of inclusion through assessments as well as curricular and co-curricular programming.
- UAHT Diversity and Inclusion Assessment – As an introduction to ensure a more diverse and inclusive UAHT a mandatory employee assessment and institutional diversity audit will be administered. This assessment will highlight areas of proficiency and identify areas of improvement for the institution. Initiating a diversity and inclusion assessment will ensure clear and concise actions implemented by the diversity and inclusion taskforce.
- Intentional Student and Community Engagement for Minority Populations – In Spring 2019, the campus embarked on a series of on-campus programming that engages the minority populations at the institution. Such activities included Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month events. In Fall 2019, the UAHT Multicultural Society and Fine Arts Society, co-sponsored a celebration for Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead). The UAHT Nursing student organization hosts an annual Culture Day which highlights the various health practices around the world. These programs are an on-going development of more inclusive activities for UAHT and the Southwest Arkansas community. For academic year 2020-2021, UAHT will continue to pursue and expand intentional student and community engagement.
- Mandatory Bias Training – UAHT faculty, staff, and students need impactful training to raise awareness of one’s conscious and unconscious biases. An evaluation of racial bias or discriminatory behaviors during institutional processes should limit future issues. The training will be on-going and create a zero tolerance community of racial, gender, and sexual orientation bias.
As of June 2020.