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Virginia Tech Student Affairs Anti-Racism Commitment

Racism in this country is not a new problem. Because our social structures were created under the influence of white supremacy—diversity, equity, and inclusion—the pure elemental necessities of a society that is for all people, were forfeited. Thus, a ‘for some people’ social structure emerged. This flawed ideal has and will continue to flourish everywhere there is an absence of systemic analysis, corrective education, steadfast discipline, and human decency.

For this reason, Student Affairs believes our collective and urgent work as a community is to re-allocate power, reimagine communities of trust, and reclaim the highest ideals of justice, kindness, compassion, and generosity. We believe Virginia Tech can and should be in daily pursuit of an anti-racist cultural transformation. We must embed in ourselves the memory of our most painful moments to fight racism in ourselves, in our community, and in our systems. As we stand against racism we must be unequivocal in our stance that minoritized lives and identities matter.

What can we do?

First, we must join the never-ending journey of learning about people, their experiences, and the structural realities that often facilitate exclusion. This ongoing learning can come from deep and abiding friendships with those whose life experiences are different from our own. It can come from formal education, reading, serving, and failing. It can also come from hearing the voices of marginalized students and neighbors.

Second, we can collaborate to create multicultural environments that facilitate inclusion—a corrective initiative necessary because the geographic, historic, and tribal narratives of communities have made the likelihood of experiencing genuine and meaningful diversity rare. This is one of the most profound opportunities that higher education has to foster a tangible, ‘for all people’ microcosm of truth. Designing experiences that build friendships and trust across “difference” can be the heart of our practice.

Third, while we must hold institutions and power structures accountable for change, we must also embrace our own agency to make a meaningful difference in our individual circles of influence. We are all culpable to varying degrees in the behaviors and structures that have caused inequality and injustice.

Finally, we must recognize that for those with a majority identity, it comes with great responsibility to promote change, to listen well, to challenge systems, to welcome correction, and to use their own positional power and privilege for good. We are committed to this form of leadership for the hope of a society where all flourish. Though we may fail sometimes, we will get up and try again.

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