University of Washington School of Public Health

UW SPH News: SPH Diversity Work Groups Set to Meet

SPH Diversity Work Groups Set to Meet


From Dean Howard Frumkin and the SPH Diversity Committee (May 12, 2016)

Dear colleagues:

We are writing to update you about SPH activities on race and equity over the last couple of weeks.  As you recall, we held an all-School forum on April 15, at which we agreed to move ahead on nine issues (which expanded to ten work groups).  During the following week, we set up a website for people to join the groups of their choice.  We also worked to hire a consultant to help us move our efforts forward.  We’re delighted to report on progress on each of these efforts.

First, with regard to the consultant, we approached a number of well-regarded diversity consultants external to UW.  None was available in the short term.  However, we were very fortunate to secure the assistance of Jeanette James, a staff member in UW’s Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity.  Jeanette will provide support for the next six weeks to enable us to get moving.

She will attend work group meetings and listen carefully and consolidate what is said.  Subsequently she will work with India Ornelas and the Diversity Committee to process this input and translate it into action.  At the same time, as work groups clarify their needs for staff support and lay out their work plans, we will look toward hiring an external consultant to help us carry out this work.

Second, with regard to the work groups, the Diversity Committee has planned six work group meetings.  These include the four with the largest number of participants signing up.  The fifth, on an SPH anti-racism statement from the Dean, attracted fewer participants, but we’re looking for input quickly so the Dean can move to a statement. The sixth, on the Center for the Critical Study of Race, is a special interest of Noah Simon, who will lead this discussion. 

The remaining topics are being addressed at the University level.  Specifically, on land recognition, UW’s Tribal Liaison is providing guidance and leadership on acknowledgement language that will be shared with the broader community in the near future.

With regard to campus policing, last month UW students, faculty, and staff of Black/African descent held an affinity meeting to discuss this issue.  The meeting generated questions and shaped an agenda for dialogue and action with Chief Vinson.  A follow up affinity meeting will take place with Chief Vinson.  Key topics for this meeting include communication, committees/accountability, training, data, and transparency.  Next steps will be communicated shortly after this meeting.  And on prison divestment, student Regent Vanessa Kritzer is leading a process to address this issue. 

The dates, times, and locations of our upcoming six meetings are as follows:

  • Student Diversity: Friday, May 20 – 1:00 – 2:30pm, ECC 206/208
  • Faculty Diversity: Friday, May 20 – 2:30 – 4:00pm, ECC 206/208
  • Center on the Critical Study of Race: Friday, May 20 – 4:00 – 5:30pm, ECC 206/208
  • Staff Diversity: Monday, May 23 – 2:30 – 4:00pm, ECC 104 (Unity 2)
  • SPH statement on zero tolerance for racial discrimination: Tuesday, May 24, 3:30 – 5:00pm, ECC 206/208
  • Overcoming Racism Training: scheduling in process; a separate communication will be sent once finalized

Finally, we want to acknowledge that a group of activists, called “South Campus Organizers,” has remained active and vocal on these issues.  This group does not support the steps described above.  You can learn about their perspective through the Decolonize UW Facebook page.   We hope you will decide that active engagement and collaboration is the path toward making progress at SPH.

We look forward to working together to create a more diverse and inclusive School.

Howie and the SPH Diversity Committee