NYU announces new office in the name of ‘commitment to anti-racism’

NYU’s newest office promises to promote "cultural proficiency."

The office hopes to "fulfill" student "expectations" for "inclusive learning environments."

A new office at New York University will “amplify equity and social justice in all aspects” of the university.

New York University Dean of Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development Jack H. Knott announced the new Office of Equity, Belonging and Community Action, and a partnership with Vice Dean David Kirkland, who is assisting with the office. 

According to Washington Square News, Knott made a statement announcing the office signaling that White people are responsible for their acts to continue racial social scales. He stated, “We believe it is the collective responsibility of white people to articulate, address and act to change these white supremacist mindsets.”

The decision to create the new office came after the formation of NYU’s Diversity Council in 2016. 

The council serves as an advisory board to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion. It also partook in the creation of the Faculty First Look Scholar Program whose purpose is to “primarily consider applicants from African American, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian, or Alaskan Native descent, and others who are underrepresented and underserved in the Academy and/or at Steinhardt.” 

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The new initiative was praised by Steinhardt Undergraduate Student Government President, Ryan Campbell, who told Washington Square News that, “a steadfast commitment to racial justice, promoting faculty diversity, eliminating financial barriers to courses and course materials, and actively responding to student input are crucial to creating more inclusive learning environments — we hope that the new Vice Dean and their office will fulfill these expectations.”

Kirkland told Campus Reform that the office’s  mission is to “promote a climate, culture, and commitment to anti-racism, cultural proficiency, equity, social justice, and sense of belonging all while advancing strategic Steinhardt activities in partnership with communities throughout NYC and beyond.” 

He also told Campus Reform about the office’s planned vision in leaning toward producing leadership in line with their mission and to further promote social justice in the Steinhardt department.

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“The office leans towards action rather than just education or spreading awareness. It is a vehicle for change – especially with the resources of Steinhardt and the leadership of the Vice Dean,” Kirkland said. “It aims to collaborate closely with the people, bound by a steadfast commitment to racial justice, the promotion of equitable student and employee diversity, the elimination of financial barriers to opportunities to learn, and active responsiveness to input crucial to creating more transformative learning environments.”

“The office will develop and sustain infrastructure to unify and amplify equity and social justice in all aspects of our School’s work, including curricula, student, faculty and administrator recruitment and hiring practices, promotion and tenure, and retention initiatives for within our community,” he added. “It will build partnerships with community organizations and individuals to learn and implement model practices from community leaders and other stakeholders as well as leverage NYU Steinhardt’s research to influence practice and policy.”

Kirkland also added that the values represented through the office would be, “Intersectional Racial Justice, Critical Compassion, Community Power & Participatory Decision- Making, Belongingness, Cooperative Economics & Community Cultural Wealth, Critical Care & Healing Justice, Restorative Practice, Social Innovation, and Love as Action.”

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