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Welcome Message from Provost Ivan Evans

 

On behalf of a college that is proudly committed to a global conception of peace and justice, I welcome our new and returning students. Pedagogically, the year before us will be novel. It will transpire in a society that is charged with protest and historical reckoning, placing a premium on the college to clarify where it stands.

 Months after George Floyd’s gruesome murder by police in Minneapolis, the struggle against structural racism and its insidious handmaiden, implicit racial bias, has entered an important phase as multicultural allies join the movement against America’s culture of racist policing. The moment is important and encouraging, but there is no guarantee that it will last or succeed. It will take unyielding commitment to uproot the original sin that attended the birth of this nation and answer difficult questions such as “How should the nation make recompense for four centuries of white supremacy?”

 Eleanor Roosevelt College welcomes and supports UC San Diego’s commitment to diversity and anti-racism. But the college recognizes that the very language of “diversity” and “anti-racism” may obscure the claim that the problem is not just racism, but anti-Blackness in American society. The college, therefore, believes that it is necessary to name and address the centrality of anti-Blackness in the United States. At the same time, the college also recognizes that the struggle for the rights of Blacks is also a particular expression of the struggle for human rights. The two struggles are not only connected—they are inseverable.

Distinguishing and re-connecting racism in the United States to the struggle for human rights elsewhere is especially important for a college that annually sends students to many different countries across the world. If it is to help redress anti-Blackness in the United States, the college needs to respect the rights of people and cultures everywhere. 

ERC’s Commitment to Diversity

In Eleanor Roosevelt’s expansive vision of humanity, all people have the right to forge cultures and identities that are rich and intimately meaningful. Her vision of justice transcended the shores of the United States and incorporated the rights of marginalized and vulnerable groups across the world. This spirit infused the Declaration of Universal Human Rights which she drew up in 1948. For Eleanor Roosevelt, “universal human rights begin ...in small places, close to home... Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination."

Drawing from her compassion and legendary engagement with the world, Eleanor Roosevelt College commits itself to a vision of diversity, equity, and inclusion that fosters world citizenship and inspires students to actively transform society through scholarship, leadership, and service.

Diversity and inclusion are global by definition simply because they are human rights. Yet rights that are inalienable are also routinely withheld. Millions of people across the world have therefore been deprived of their freedom to enjoy secure and meaningful lives because of their ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social status, poverty, physical ability, and mental health. These and other such exclusionary practices depend on the systemic power that resides in local and global institutions. Unmasking these barriers to inclusion foregrounds the highest ideal of Eleanor Roosevelt College: developing citizen-scholars who transform societies by championing access for the marginalized, the stigmatized, and the exploited anywhere in the world.

Because respect for diversity is neither universal nor automatic, it is essential to intentionally affirm both the beauty of our diverse world and the rights of diverse and intersectional communities. Eleanor Roosevelt College, therefore, re-commits itself to a distinctively global vision of diversity, welcoming students, and embracing their intersectional lifestyles and values.

The Provost and staff of ERC, therefore, commit to the following:

  • We will uphold a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion in all our work and remain vigilant about implicit bias, which all individuals possess to varying degrees.
  • We will create a welcoming space for staff and students to discuss and explore their own identities and biographies, mindful that all of us have been socialized in exclusionary societies that marginalize and stereotype Others.
  • We will develop programs that intentionally reject language, behavior, and conceptions that judge or disrespect the cultural practices of the host communities that our students and staff interact with.
  • We will embrace an approach of “learning through listening” as an essential technique of world citizenship, intercultural respect, and personal growth.
  • We will intentionally develop programs that emphasize practical service and cultural exploration as distinctive forms of engagement with the world.
  • We will provide opportunities for students and staff to engage in scholarship, leadership, and service within the college and by working with voluntary and professional organizations at home and abroad.

 

Ivan Evans

Provost of Eleanor Roosevelt College

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