Jun 24, 2020 | Atlanta, GA
The death of George Floyd sparked worldwide protests and a national call for an end to systemic racism. Many around the country took heed, including at Georgia Tech, where administrators denounced the recent killing of Black people, and pledged to look inward to ensure they are doing what they can to treat people of all walks of life equally and fairly.
Institute Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (IDEI) is leading Tech’s effort here in collaboration with units across the campus. Following weeks of social unrest, IDEI has placed heightened focus on its already strong suite of programming designed to address perceived and real racial inequities.
IDEI plans an assortment of training, workshops, and facilitated conversations for students, faculty and staff. Over the past two weeks, the unit has held three community dialogue sessions for faculty and staff with more planned. Additionally, IDEI will offer bi-monthly workshops and community conversations for the Tech community to address issues of disparity brought about by racism and bias. The workshops will emphasize the link between implicit bias, micro aggressions, and privilege.
Next month, IDEI will also host a panel discussion with President Àngel Cabrera that will feature the lived experiences of Black and non-Black faculty, staff, and students. Details are forthcoming. This summer, IDEI is piloting several implicit bias training programs with a focus on race. The training will eventually be open to the campus community. In the spring, IDEI will launch a train-the-trainer program and add new anti-racism resources to the IDEI website.
“In the aftermath of the national upheaval over the killing of unarmed Black Americans, the campus community has openly called out racism in our society,” said Archie W. Ervin, vice president for IDEI, and chief diversity officer at Georgia Tech. “We have heard their voices and understand that the campus body is not simply satisfied with platitudes – they want change and they are asking for our direction.”
At the heart of IDEI’s mission is its effort to embed equal opportunity and non-discrimination practices throughout Tech’s programs. That mission, he said, is even greater now, as the Institute prepares to release its new strategic plan, which has as one of its themes, the importance of diversity as part of Tech’s culture and community.
Tia Jackson-Truitt, inaugural director of Diversity and Inclusion Education and Training, recently joined IDEI to build a more comprehensive training and education program. Her arrival into the role coincides with the unit’s expanded efforts to ensure inclusivity in every corner of campus.
“The events over the past few weeks have emboldened us to go even deeper with these opportunities,” said Jackson-Truitt. “Now that there has been a collective raising of consciousness on issues of race and racism, the campus community has been very vocal in telling us that they are ready to have these critical conversations.”
Ervin said his unit is collaborating with the Division of Student Life, the Student Government Association, and IDEI’s Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion to support students. This includes a call with Black student leaders to express their concerns and frustrations in a safe space.
“I understand that it is not the task of IDEI alone to undertake these actions for the campus,” Ervin said. “I’m proud to say that numerous units have eagerly volunteered to partner with us on these upcoming offerings.”
Still, Ervin acknowledges there is more work to be done. “My hope is that through these offerings, the campus can collectively figure out novel and practical ways to understand and solve seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity and injustice,” he said.