UWP Anti-Racism Statement
“A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories” (Northwestern University, 2020). It is important to understand the longstanding history that has brought you to live here in Bowling Green, or elsewhere. Land acknowledgements do not exist in a past tense, or historical context:
Colonialism, a practice of domination over Indigenous Peoples, is an ongoing process. We must challenge ourselves to be mindful of how we are participating in conversations and institutions that further these practices. For more information on Land Acknowledgements, please visit this article by Indigenous writer, Selena Mills.
The land on which we hold classes at BGSU has long been a gathering and meeting space for peoples of the Erie, Cherokee, and Shawnee Nations. We honor and respect the diverse Indigenous peoples connected to the territory on which we gather.
To learn about the removal and genocide of Indigenous Peoples in Ohio, please visit this resource from The Ohio Historical Society (p. 18).
UWP Anti-Racism 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, anti-racist pedagogy.
We understand that diversity, cultural, and anti-racism professional development opportunities are important for administration, faculty, and students. Instructors are urged to learn about anti-racist 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 Workshop. Anti-racism teaching strategies are to be circulated weekly to the department and an Anti-Racism 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 be focused on anti-racism and 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 make anti-racism and confronting internal and external biases a high priority in the courses they take and teach, and also in life outside of the university. White faculty must express and enact solidarity with people of diverse backgrounds to rid ourselves of racist attitudes, biases, and prejudices.