As an office committed to meaningful engagement with the community and active participation in democratic and civic life, the Center for Civic Engagement staff have spent time listening and reflecting on where we have been challenged in addressing systemic racism, both within our campus and in the larger community, and how we can make anti-racism actions more central to our work. Over the past two years, we have taken the following actions:
- Enhanced our civic education programming to provide information, tools and resources to support students in making their voices heard and enacting positive change. Programs and resources have included: workshops/trainings on advocacy; student organization trainings on voter registration and get-out-the-vote; resources on contacting elected officials, writing letters to the editor and providing public testimony; sharing nonpartisan information on candidates and ballot proposals; and more.
- Promoted conversations about racism, systemic oppression and structural inequalities through events, programs and trainings. Specific efforts have included: roundtable debates and a deliberative dialogue on inclusion and free speech; regular training from the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for professional and student staff; and integrating information on critical models of community engagement in various programs and presentations.
- Collaborated with various campus partners to attempt to reduce the voting gap between white students and students of color by addressing unique barriers to registering and turning out to vote. Despite these efforts, this voting equity gap persists, with white students turning out at 69% in 2020 and students of color voting at 54%.
- Led conversations with campus and community partners, specifically school partners, about strategies to better support students of color serving in predominantly white communities.
- Recruited a more diverse student staff.
- Created an office environment that encourages students and staff to discuss campus and community issues related to racism, and creates a space for continued learning and growth.
Moving forward, the CCE is committed to continuing progress on these actions. Specifically, we are committed to:
- Closing the voting gap between white students and students of color by removing barriers to registering and turning out to vote. We have set a goal to reduce this gap by 5 percentage points in 2022.
- Continue to offer a variety of civic education programs that support students in taking action on issues that are important to them.
- Continue work with campus and community partners to ensure that students of color have positive experiences while interning and volunteering in predominantly white spaces, in particular school districts.
- Continue to foster an environment for staff to discuss racism and encourage ongoing learning; Clarify pathways for conflict resolution when challenges arise.
- Continue to recruit and support a more diverse CCE staff.
- Continue offering a variety of training and development opportunities for professional and student staff related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
This work is ongoing, and we recognize that much more work is needed. We will continue to prioritize and hold ourselves accountable to these and other efforts.