The Important Work to Dismantle Racism at CDH Begins
December 9, 2020
This past summer, President Frank Miley announced a commitment to Dismantle Racism at Cretin-Derham Hall. Recognizing that the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed prompted an over-due call to action for our mission-driven school, Miley committed to a long-term initiative to be implemented over the next decade, with the goal of dismantling racism in our systems and in ourselves.
“Accomplishing such critical work will take time. We won’t fix this overnight. We must start today, work to make immediate progress, and commit to making change happen over the long term,” he noted in an August letter to our community.
Several foundational steps have already been taken this year:
Anton Treuer, Ph.D. has been commissioned to lead our community through this process. Dr. Treuer is a nationally recognized leader in cultural competency and equity. He is the author of 19 books and is the recipient of 40+ prestigious awards and fellowships, as well as a Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University.
A Dismantling Racism Steering Committee has been assembled and has met several times virtually to begin to establish a framework for assessing racism at CDH. This committee includes a diverse cross-section of faculty, staff, alumni, members of the Board of Directors, and representatives of our sponsors.
The Dismantling Racism Student Advisory Committee, with 15 members and growing, has met several times this year under the leadership of Aaron Benner, Amy Bellus '90, Mona Passman, and Frank Miley.
Both the Steering Committee and the Student Advisory Group are tasked to begin both an individual and systemic assessment process which will result in CDH-specific goals and next steps. Dr. Treuer, who meets with both the Steering Committee and the ‘student group’, encourages the groups to invest time up front to have an open dialogue about personal experiences and perceptions as the groups establish a framework for common language and understanding of the nuances of these challenges.
The CDH Student Council presented a framework for Civil Discourse to all students, faculty, and staff at the beginning of the school year in support of diverse points of view and respectful conversations about deeply personal, and often divisive, issues.
As part of the Five-Year Strategic Plan, the Board of Directors has challenged each domain (Catholic Identity, Student Life, Academics/Technology, Enrollment/Marketing, Advancement/Communication, Facilities/Technology, Finance, Governance) to include specific goals regarding the Dismantling Racism Initiative. This will ensure that all domains are actively assessing the impact of racism within their domain and strategically planning for systemic changes. The final strategic plan will be shared with the community later this winter in the upcoming Traditions magazine.
To start the school year, Dr. Treuer led an inservice for faculty and staff to set the foundation for larger dialogue. Another faculty inservice is being planned for this spring.
A webpage housing updates and resources for the Dismantling Racism Initiative is up and running and will be updated as work progresses.
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