Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 12:00
Dear Rider Community,
As the demands for racial justice echo across the nation and the world, we continue to see and hear the expression of pain and anguish from our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. We feel that pain deeply, and our feelings mirror the broad yearning for a better society. We’re inspired by the collective action of protesting citizens to give voice to the voiceless and end the unacceptable treatment of Black people.
The heartbreaking experiences and emotions of our Black students, alumni, faculty, and staff were vividly apparent in the stories they shared during our recent virtual event, Tension in America: An Open Discussion. As leaders of this institution, we acknowledge that the wounds rawly exposed by recent events mean little if they cannot drive necessary change. For Rider, that means creating and sustaining a culture of a racially just campus.
We need to redouble our efforts to end these atrocities that have occurred for generations. Accordingly, we are committed to making systemic change happen on the Rider campus to bring about lasting transformation in the following ways.
- The diversity of Rider’s student body is one of our greatest institutional strengths, so we pledge to continue to promote access and success for our students of color by including direct support through our P2P MENTORING program, reception for incoming students of color, pre-commencement celebration, opportunities to connect alumni of color and students of color, and other initiatives.
- We are developing a physical space in our student center for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) that will open this fall to serve as a convening space and beacon of inclusion. It is our hope that the CDI becomes a welcoming and inviting space not only for students to gather but the centerpiece of our important work to grow and evolve as individuals and as a campus.
- It is clear that the growing diversity of our students has outpaced that of our faculty and staff. To better reflect the diverse identities of our students, we have undertaken steps to diversify our employees, including diverse faculty hiring practices, and a required commitment to diversity statement as part of the hiring application.
- We are dedicated to advancing cultural competency as a core component of Rider student learning for all students through such programs as the Shared Read, in which books addressing issues of social justice, including racism and discrimination, are read and discussed by members of the Rider community. We will continue to host educational sessions, lectures and programs on the intersects of free speech and social justice.
- We have offered professional development opportunities to faculty and staff to create a more inclusive environment in the classroom and have invited such noted speakers as Sean Harper, Juan Carlos-Garibay, Marcia Chatelain and Damon Williams to campus in an effort to engage faculty in the pedagogical tools needed to assure students can identify and explain the potential benefits and/or conflicts that arise from a world that is a complex, interdependent global system of social, cultural and economic communities.
- We pledge to continue to evaluate the experiences of our students, faculty and staff of color — in informal and formal ways — so we can be responsive to their needs and assure we are promoting the inclusive community we champion.
- We understand that racism is systemic and perpetual, and commit to reviewing all aspects of our structure that may reinforce this reality.
- We commit to extending this justice work beyond Rider’s campus, to not only our neighboring communities but around the world.
These steps, many of which are outlined in our Inclusive Excellence Plan, launched last October, are just the beginning of our commitments across various justice issues — inclusive of race and other marginalized identities.
We know these are only first steps, and the work towards equality and inclusion is going to be an ongoing process, one we commit to making a central focus of our work to move Rider University forward.
We are personally committed to being a part of this positive change, and we ask that each of you join us in your commitment to assuring that Rider University is a place where each person, inclusive of all of their identities, is treated with respect and dignity, feels a sense of belonging, and can achieve their individual potential and success.
We hear you; we care for you. Together, we can make a difference...and we must continue doing so. Black Lives Matter.
Dr. Gregory Dell’Omo
Dr. DonnaJean Fredeen
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Dr. Leanna Fenneberg
Vice President for Student Affairs