Dear Campus Community,
As some of you might be aware, a North Central College alumna, Mynk Richardson-Clerk, recently distributed a video in which she shared a very painful experience during her time here. I am personally sorry. On behalf of myself and the institution, I hear her and I acknowledge her pain, and I must—and we as a College must—be better, in listening and responding to the experiences of our Black students in order to live out our mission. Consistent with our values at North Central College, Black lives matter.
I am thankful for the activism of our Black students, alumni and allies. I am proud of their efforts as students to make North Central College a better place, and there are things in place now on our campus that are the direct result of these efforts. For example, every single student, staff, and faculty member today receives training around diversity and inclusion. While our Black students and alumni should be proud to have been catalysts for this change, we should be ashamed this was not already in place. We have tried to do good work along this journey but we have made mistakes. I have learned that there is still much more to be done before we begin to resemble our vision of a diverse and inclusive community. In order to take the next steps in making greater change on this campus, I am committing to several things:
- I am aware that our students and alumni are collecting stories of their experiences. I support that effort, and importantly, I want to see them and hear them. Additionally, I want the entire campus community to see them and hear them, so I can work with others to ensure that these stories can affect our actions moving forward.
- As I indicated in a message yesterday, I will host an online Town Hall next week so that students as well as staff, faculty and trustees of the College can discuss opportunities to make us better.
- At the recommendation of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, I am committing to a campus-wide climate study during the upcoming academic year.
- I will require each faculty search committee and each staff hiring manager to report to me on their efforts to recruit, hire, and retain persons of color.
- I will require regular reporting of student retention data by race, as an important measure of our efforts.
- I will meet on a regular basis with our Black students, faculty, and staff to listen and learn more while continuing our progress.
In my personal communications with both students and alums just in the last few days, I have gained renewed understanding of how much Black people are deeply tired, exhausted, and pained by the impacts of systemic racism and its effects in America—from continuing incidents of police brutality to a pandemic that is disproportionately killing people of color, jobs that have vaporized, and racist incidents as college students. As a recent Time article that I read says, it feels like “America has its knee on People of Color.”
North Central is at heart an educational institution. Our model places a premium on personal growth that comes with dialogue from and between faculty and staff and students. Growth requires breaking down old muscles, old mindsets and building new ones. This will be a long-term and ongoing effort. I am committed to that, as is this institution.
Grace and peace,
Troy D. Hammond
Professor of Physics
North Central College