UC Merced's Statement of Diversity
During the Summer 2019, the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion (CCCI) at UC Merced released the following diversity statement:
Local indigenous people, including the Yokuts and Miwuk who understand the earth as a place for everyone, first inhabited the land where UC Merced is located. When we address diversity on this campus, we do so boldly, daring to look forward and backward, imagining diversity’s demand for the 21st century and the importance of diversity in addressing past wrongs, reaffirming humanity, and ensuring a reconciliatory path of redress for the future. The most prominent path on our campus is called Scholars Lane. By day, you can see, hear and witness the embodiment of our diversity through campus community members making their way across campus framed by the slopes and peaks of the Sierra Nevada.
At UC Merced we steadfastly uphold the concepts expressed in the University of California Diversity Statementincluding, “the variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from differences of culture and circumstance. Such differences include race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, neurodiversity, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geographic region, and more.”
We affirm that a diverse campus furthers our mission to create, interpret, and disseminate knowledge and values. The manifold diversity of our community encourages each of us to reflect on intellectual and cultural orthodoxies, and thus stimulates the creativity at the heart of our academic mission as a research university. We take pride in serving a large population of first-generation college students, including the broad representation of background on our campus as a Hispanic (HSI), Minority (MSI) and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander (AANAPISI) serving institution. As a common goal, we will work together to ensure all members of our academic community reflect the multiplicity of identities in our region.
Our commitment to diversity will foster our ability to thrive in a complex world.
The Merritt Writing Program Statement of Diversity
The Merritt Writing Program emphasizes collaboration, personal growth, and academic development. Our faculty cultivates intersectional scholarship through student-centered writing and research to achieve deeper understandings of self and community.
As members of the UC Merced community, we work to help empower, recognize and respect expressions of language, cultures, and peoples. Thus, we honor a fluid view of diversity and the intersecting spheres of identities, expressions of self, and ways of life by providing opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to express their distinct and collective experiences, perspectives, and voices.
Merritt Writing Program Affirmation of Commitment to Anti-Racism
With the most ethnoracially diverse undergraduate student body in the University of California system, it is imperative now more than ever that Merritt Writing Program faculty commit to the fight for racial justice and equality. Thus, we, the MWP, stand in solidarity with the Black community in Minneapolis and support the protests occurring worldwide in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless other Black men and women who have been victims of police brutality and violence perpetuated by whitesupremacist ideologies and a history of systemic racism in our nation.
We must stand united with Black students at UC Merced by taking an active role in understanding the impacts of systemic racism, and particularly our role in perpetuating such systems in our writing classrooms. We recognize that white language supremacy, as Asao Inoue has argued, is the “handmaiden to white bias in the world,” the very bias that “kills black men on the streets by the hands of the police through profiling and good ol’ fashion prejudice,” and we are committed to taking action now to denounce racism and promote anti-racist writing practice and linguistic justice in our curricula, program, campus, and communities. This work begins with critical self-reflection and is sustained through praxis and structural change.
As a faculty, we commit to the critical self-reflection around race necessary for the effective teaching of writing with historically marginalized students, including our own unexamined raciolinguistic ideologies and role in sustaining white language supremacy:
- As a community of teachers, writers, and activists both within and beyond the writing classroom, the Merritt Writing Program will work collaboratively toward understanding our own implicit biases, our current practices, and the ways in which systemic racism and inequality play out in our classrooms, curricula, program, and institution;
- Toward this end, all MWP faculty will be encouraged to read and discuss Robin DeAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism and Asao B. Inoue’s Labor-Based Grading Contracts: Building Equity and Inclusion in the Compassionate Composition Classroom. Both texts promote critical self-reflection around race, particularly how white language supremacy plays out in the composition classroom and how anti-racist pedagogy can create more equitable and inclusive learning conditions for historically marginalized students and faculty;
- We will promote active and sustained dialogue by re-engaging this document in F20, generating shared commitments toward anti-racist praxis and concrete action items to promote change. This dialogue will be facilitated by an Anti-Racist Task Force (see below). As a program, we commit to structural changes that integrate anti-racist pedagogy and practices. These structural changes reflect the programmatic commitments reflected in both our Strategic Plan and our Statement of Commitment to Diversity, specifically the goal of helping to “empower, recognize, and respect expressions of language, cultures, and people” as well as the honoring of “intersecting spheres of identities, expressions of self, and ways of life.”
These commitments will be supported through the following actions:
- We will actively work to retain, recruit, and hire Senate and Non-Senate Faculty of Color and those whose work exemplifies an overall commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion practices;
- We will actively rethink our curriculum, choice of texts, signature assignments and pedagogical practices in relation to revised learning outcomes, including a new diversityspecific student learning outcome;
- We will develop Anti-Racism teaching resources consisting of theory and pedagogy as well as course readings and multi-modal texts as options for use in our writing courses. These resources will also be made available on an official Anti-Racism Page on the Merritt Writing Program website.
- We will offer space for the Faculty of Color who live daily with racial trauma by providing healing and growth opportunities for sustained respite and resiliency.
To help accomplish these objectives,
- We will establish an Anti-Racism Task Force committed to the consideration of how our program can better engage faculty in anti-racist professional development and practices. This task force will work with the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee and the MWP Faculty of Color Interest Group to create a charge and set the group’s priorities, which may include the recommendation of future common reads, professional development workshops, support for existing faculty of color, and other program initiatives. The Anti-Racism Task force may intersect with the work of these existing committees and interest group activities.
Drawing inspiration from Angela Davis’ recent statement that this is a moment in which we are offered the possibility of re-imagining and re-creating of the future, we acknowledge our role as educators in creating spaces that develop these possibilities. We acknowledge that faculty, staff, and students are deeply harmed by the inequities of race and class that they experience in our university system. Anti-racist pedagogy aims at eliminating institutional racism within our educational systems and our community.
Merritt Writing Program Action Items for AY 2020-21:
- Implementing an MWP Anti-Racism Task Force
- Racial Trauma Workshops for the Faculty of Color for sustained respite and resiliency
- Implicit bias faculty development workshops
- Diversifying MWP Faculty
- Racial Bias faculty development workshops
- Anti-Racism page on MWP website with anti-racism teaching resources