Anti-Black Racism Task Force and upcoming actions

Jul. 7, 2020

Dear University Community, 

The last month or so has been profoundly painful for our university, our community, and our nation. The long history and recent string of killings of unarmed African Americans have finally brought about a moment of reckoning that needs to persist past the immediate reflection and protests. 

Black Lives Matter. Now and forever.

Through all the pain and heartbreak, it is abundantly clear that our society has not made sufficient progress to combat systemic racism and racial injustice – that all members of our community do not enjoy equal freedoms or protections, and that all members of our community still do not have equal opportunity. 

As a campus that prides itself on the diversity of our population, UNLV must be at the forefront of efforts to increase access and opportunity for individuals of color and others traditionally underrepresented in higher education.  We must support every member of our UNLV family and help everyone attain their educational goals and professional objectives. 

UNLV has been working to address some of these challenges in the last couple of years, with multiple campus offices working in coordination to develop programs and activities to counter racism and hate, to promote inclusion and understanding, to build a culture of community-oriented policing, and to improve our support of our students, faculty, and staff of color.  But there is much more we can and will do.

To fully encompass the multiple ways in which we can and must do more, we listened to Black students, faculty, and staff to help us forge a plan of action that allows UNLV to be part of the solution and a thought leader on this critical issue. 

To that end – and as mentioned during the June 23 virtual town hall for faculty and staff – we have convened an Anti-Black Racism Task Force to proactively address issues at our university, educate the campus community, and collaboratively develop an action plan. 

As leaders of UNLV, we commit to the following actions, upon the recommendation of the task force: 

  • Denounce racism and Black racism during UNLV Creates and student orientations.
  • Create a website specifically for the task force with administrative support to facilitate its communications to campus. 
  • Sponsor and administratively support on-campus workshop(s) to certify members of the faculty/staff in specialized training for Intercultural Development Inventory and Intercultural Conflict Style as we begin the re-entry process to campus.
  • Work with the Faculty Senate Chair, Chair of the Senate’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, and task force members to develop support initiatives for current African American/Black Faculty.
  • Expand internal and external mental health services for our Black community focused on their specific experience – particularly for students – as well as integrate culturally competent and trauma-informed care into all mental health services.
  • Review and develop protocols for when University Police Services will engage students who are gathering for protests and for responding to non-life-threatening incidents:
    • With task force consultation, implement a Citizen Review Board composed of students, faculty, staff and at-large community members by the start of the 2020 Fall Semester that will review disciplinary actions by university police.
    • With task force consultation, implement a Police Advisory Board composed of students, faculty, staff and at-large community members by the start of the 2020 Fall Semester that will provide input to university police on operations and (university) community interaction.
    • Implement the Search Advocate Program that has shown to result in the hiring of more faculty of color.
    • Hire a cluster of scholars – once the hiring freeze is lifted – whose research, teaching, and service is dedicated to combatting racism and increasing social justice; and expand the African American and African Diaspora Studies program.

We want to sincerely thank the members of the Anti-Black Racism Task Force for their thoughtful work and their ongoing commitment to help us make UNLV a more just and equitable university. It is not an easy task, especially in the midst of such pain.

We stand together with the Black community and recognize the social injustices and racism you have experienced and we will work to create meaningful change at UNLV.  

In partnership and solidarity,

Marta Meana

Christopher Heavey
Interim Executive Vice President and Provost