Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Rapid Response!

I jotted off a note to the Editor with many of the same thoughts I raised in an earlier post today, and I've been delighted to find out it's already be posted on-line on The News Record's website.

Here's a link to the posting and I've copied the text of the letter below:

To the Editor:

I was glad to read “Patterson opens race discussion” in today’s paper, highlighting the Harvard University professor’s presentation on current race issues in the U.S. I think the conversation this event generates can be very meaningful to our campus’ work on being a just and inclusive community.

A&S Dean Hardcastle was quoted throughout the article and I agree wholeheartedly with one of her major points: Discussions about race relations – particularly when crossing racial lines – can be uncomfortable and thus may be avoided by many. I disagree strongly, though, with the statements implying this program will start conversations where there was previously a void.

Another article just behind this one highlights the fact that there are many people at UC – and within A&S – who are already spurring these conversations. As the day’s “Spotlight” demonstrated, history professor Dr. Nikki Taylor has been creating meaningful conversations and education around issues of race here at UC and throughout Greater Cincinnati. I know there are countless other academics here at UC working to combat racism and other forms of oppression through education and conversation.

UC has had the Racial Awareness Program (RAPP) since 1986. Now approaching our 25th year, we continue our tradition of difficult conversations about race and other areas of social identity. In the process, we empower students with knowledge and skills to continue to combat oppression through individual awareness and collective action. Students are invited to apply for membership spring through early fall to join the nine-month program RAPP. All throughout the year, our team offers programming around racial disparities and other areas of social injustice in our own community and around the world.

Student Life as a whole is always abuzz with the kind of conversations that programs like Dr. Patterson’s spark. The student group United Black Student Association creates fora both formal and informal where issues of race and racism are confronted, as it has been doing for decades under various leadership and names. Many offices throughout Student Life - among them the UC Women’s Center, Ethnic Programs & Services, the African American Cultural and Research Center, and Resident Education and Development – provide not only informal space where students and staff can engage issues of social justice but also provide a wealth of educational and experiential programming that generates meaningful conversation and learning.

University-wide, we have had the Just Community initiative for well over a decade. This initiative and the core principles behind it challenge every member of our community to take responsibility for their role in ensuring that our University is a place where everyone can excel academically as well as personally. Just Community sponsors active programs such as speakers and engagement in city-wide community work. Daily interaction with the principles has been encouraged through programs like Table Talk, a weekly programming series created by Resident Education and Development.

I am delighted to see that this work is on-going and that so many departments worked together to bring the thought- and discussion-provoking presentation by Dr. Patterson and thank Dean Hardcastle for her support of it. I just want to make sure that all of the work that is continually being done to encourage crosscultural discussion and education is not overlooked.

Take care,

Rebecca Lehman
Program Coordinator
Racial Awareness Program
Student Activities and Leadership Development

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