Wednesday, June 17, marked the most recent in a series of campus forums and listening sessions designed to open up dialogues and address issues of racism, bias, prejudice, and hatred.
While the dialogue is in response to the recent deaths of black and brown men and women, including George Floyd in Minneapolis and James Scurlock in Omaha, the conversation was driven by centuries of systematic inequality that has isolated, marginalized, and threatened entire communities.
The campus listening session is also the first in a new series of "Healing and Education" sessions that will be held on campus - in person and remotely - over the coming weeks and months. Details about those events will be shared with campus once they are available.
"This is an important time for all of us," UNO Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., said to open the listening session. "How we address racism in our communities will dictate much of our future ... we have much to learn, much to change, much to improve, and much to continue our future growth in this area."
Moderated by Makayla McMorris, executive director of University Communications, and Cecil Hicks, assistant vice chancellor for human resources and recently-named associate vice chancellor for diversity, equity, access and inclusion, the forum included a panel of representatives from across campus:
- Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.
- Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Sacha Kopp, Ph.D.
- Vice Chancellor for Student Success, Dan Shipp, Ed.D.
- Jabin Moore, UNO Student Body President and Regent
- Charlene Patterson, Ph.D., Director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
Due to COVID-19, the listening session was held remotely and questions were submitted though email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Future sessions will follow a similar format until campus access restrictions are eased further.
"It goes without saying that the past events over the last month or so, especially as it related to Mr. Floyd, the killing of Mr. Floyd, have been traumatic for all of us and it is at the forefront of conversations not just here at the university, but for many of us at home, but it's a conversation we need to have" Hicks said.
A full recording of the session is included below. Topics covered during the discussion included:
- Who owns racism and what role does UNO have to turn words into actions?
- The role of assimilation of culture in silencing the full depth of a person's value to an organization.
- Hiring practices for faculty and staff and recent initiatives that have shown positive outcomes.
- The diversification of UNO's career pipelines and partnerships with local community businesses and nonprofit organizations.
- How to practice self-care and care for others.
- What can the white community do to support, be educated, and become involved with actionable change on campus and in the community?
- The importance of purposeful representation of underrepresented communities in positions of leadership.
- Finding shared language to define what we mean by diversity, inclusion, access, and equity.
- The importance of intersectionality when considering diversity; not just race, but gender identity, sexual orientation, spirituality, political philosophy, etc...
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.