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Belonging is a Practice, not a Decree

Welcome to “One Minute with OneKU,” our first regular message addressing issues of concern at KU.

We begin with one of the most serious problems facing us: the need for true, sustained commitment to the diversity and well-being of our faculty, students, and staff. In a campus-wide email on Feb. 22, KU Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer declared our university’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. But recent decisions show that what this administration says is not what it does.

- Two valued staff members of the Office of Multicultural Affairs were abruptly fired over the winter break.

- Active centers for diversity and equity saw their staff reduced and placed under the Office of Student Affairs, as if faculty and staff do not have their own diversity and equity concerns.

- The Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness (DEI) advisory committee of faculty, staff, and students was not consulted about these decisions or even informed about them until after the decisions were made.

- Many organizations have voiced their concerns with this process, without a response from the provost, including the Black Faculty Staff Council, Black Student Coalition, Faculty Chairs and Directors, Faculty Staff Council, Graduate Teaching Assistants Coalition, Sexuality and Gender Diversity Faculty and Staff Council, Social Justice Fellows, Student Senate, and others.

- In contract negotiations with the Graduate Teaching Assistant Coalition, the administration hired an attorney who specializes in fighting discrimination claims, and who suggested removing an anti-discrimination clause from the contract.

- In recent years, six senior women of color have left the faculty and none have been replaced.

KU has faculty, staff, and students with substantial expertise and experience in the areas of discrimination, justice, and access. Community members must have an active seat at the table if KU is to do more than just talk about diversity and inclusion.

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