BGSU University Writing Program
Words change worlds. The University Writing Program (UWP) sees writing as both a way of thinking and a form of action that has real-world consequences. Our workshop-style classes invite students into the complex processes involved in the production of meaningful writing and encourage students to use their skills in new situations as they shape the many worlds they inhabit—academic, professional, public, and personal.
Bowling Green State University and its affiliated campuses are situated in the homelands of numerous Indigenous and Native tribal nations. This space holds many contemporary and historical ties to the Wyandot, Kickapoo, Miami, Odawa, Potawatomi, and multiple other Indigenous tribal nations, present and past, who were forcibly removed to and from the area. This area's history reveals an arterial network of complex economic and cultural significance. We recognize the stewardship, dedication, and presence of those for whom the Great Black Swamp and the Lower Great Lakes region is home. Through this statement, we aim to trace the past to the present to inform current conditions. It is within BGSU's responsibility as an academic institution to disseminate knowledge about Indigenous peoples and the University’s relationships, past and present, with tribal nations and individuals. As such, we recognize the forced relocation of tribal nations to and from this land and we strive to decolonize history and present conditions. We thank Indigenous individuals and communities who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. This type of acknowledgement must not only be through statement, but in action and practice as well, in order to foster inclusive, respectful and sustainable community.
UWP Antiracist Program Statement
The University Writing Program (UWP) serves students from diverse cultures and backgrounds. UWP strongly condemns and takes action against all forms of racism as outlined in this statement. “Racism consists of two principal components: difference and power. It is a mindset that sees a ‘them’ that is different from an ‘us.’ Racism in America is the systematic mistreatment and disenfranchisement of people of color who currently and historically possess less power and privilege than white Americans” (NCTE, 2018). Racism is systemic, and we see this in faculty and staff representation at our own university. By Executive order 11246, BGSU is an affirmative action employer, meaning “recruitment efforts must try to ensure equal employment opportunities for all applicants, including using targeted outreach efforts to solicit applications from minorities, women, veterans and persons with disabilities” (BGSU, 2020).
UWP believes that words change worlds and our faculty and administration strive to help our students understand that words, more broadly, language, is powerful. Language can be used to create positive change, but it can also be used to dominate and oppress. UWP administration and faculty commit to working with students to offer opportunities to develop and succeed as writers on their own terms. Writing is influenced by prior knowledge and personal experiences, ideologies, and history. A “standard English” does not exist and we strive to continuously reflect on our language practices—including examining and confronting our own biases—to understand how these practices impact our students in the classroom and beyond. UWP encourages students’ unique voices and identities through projects that build on each other and value discussions about discourse communities, agency, negotiation, and reflection. As a program, we are open to learning and changing. We encourage community members, students, staff, faculty, and administration to challenge and uphold our strong values of inclusive, accessible, antiracist pedagogy.
We understand that diversity, cultural, and antiracist professional development opportunities are important for administration, faculty, and students. Instructors are urged to learn about antiracist assessment design such as contract grading, teaching practices that include assigning diversely authored texts and multimedia, and encouraging students to follow writing-related topics they are passionate about. To make this a priority, the UWP has initiated the following plans for Fall 2020: Toni Gordon, Assistant Director for Diversity Education and Retention Initiatives will hold an Implicit Bias Training for Faculty. Antiracist teaching strategies are to be circulated to the department and an Antiracist Pedagogy Reading Group will be formed. September 18th will be dedicated to a campus-wide dialogue on social justice, and National Day on Writing, (October 20th) will celebrate diversity in students' writing. In addition to these efforts, if students or faculty experience any form of implicit or explicit racism (written or spoken words, actions, or gestures) in a WRIT course, or elsewhere on campus, they are strongly encouraged to file an Incident Report, or ask an instructor to file for them.
Instructors and students alike must prioritize antiracism in the courses they take and teach by reflecting on attitudes, thoughts, words, and actions. White faculty must express and enact solidarity with people of diverse backgrounds to rid racist attitudes, biases, and prejudices.