Solidarity Statements

We Stand in Solidarity

College of Arts & Sciences Values, Mission, and Land Acknowledgement

 

Statement About Constitution Day Zoom Lecture

Dear Fulbright College family,
 
As many of you know, since 2004 when a new law designated Sept. 17 of each year as Constitution Day, our college has led the observance of it at the University of Arkansas. 
 
Constitution Day commemorates the signing and adoption of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, and all public schools and institutions of higher learning across the U.S. are required to provide educational programs about and to commemorate that day.
 
Our Department of Political Science has hosted an excellent annual speaker series for Constitution Day featuring outstanding scholars on timely, relevant, and poignant topics. 
 
This year was no exception, with Najja K. Baptist, assistant professor of political science and African American Studies, as the keynote speaker who presented “As-Is America: Subcontracting Freedom.”
 
As Dr. Baptist describes in the YouTube recording of his talk, it centered on “America’s original agreement with its Black citizens, under the three-fifths clause of the Constitution, [which] is one of commodification. … My research suggests that Black citizens are only entitled to the rights and privileges of a subcontract. This subcontract allows for the harassment, unequal treatment, and in some instances, the death of marginalized groups.”
 
However, while Dr. Baptist was giving his talk, several participants “Zoom bombed” his lecture, shouting out racial slurs, using harsh language and attempting to disrupt the event. They also posted crude, racist, and inappropriate text in the event chat. 
 
While we will always support the right to free speech and dissent, what we cannot tolerate is the harassment, threatening behavior, racism and hate that have been directed at Dr. Baptist. 
 
And while Dr. Baptist handled this incident with the utmost calm and professionalism – even using the disruptions to further underscore the very theme and point of his lecture – he never should have had to. 
 
No member of our college should ever be targeted, harassed or face racism and hatred like this. This is especially true for our marginalized faculty members, who may have faced this kind of behavior in their private lives as well, which also is unacceptable. 
 
Please know this behavior will not be tolerated, and we are working to determine who may have done this and to take disciplinary action.
 
If you or any other member of our campus community experience anything like this, please let the Dean’s Office know immediately by contacting Romona West, J.D., college Director of Diversity and Inclusion.
 
Additional resources also are available at report.uark.edu and from our Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance, and support is available through Romona and our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
 
We stand by our commitment to keep our community safe, and to do the work to help create a world where we can all live with dignity and be free from fear.
 
We are proud of Dr. Baptist and his work, and encourage you to view his talk despite the attempts of some to stop it.
 
And we thank all those who work incredibly hard each day to make our college, university, and world a better place for us all.
 
Sincerely, 
 
Your Fulbright College Dean’s Office

 


 

Dear Fulbright College family,

As we mourn together for the victims of injustice, it is time to stand in solidarity and not look away from the images of the senseless and tragic deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, of Botham Jean in Dallas and so, so many more.

It is time instead to look deeper, and ask how we can address old and ongoing wrongs to make our college, our community, and our world a more just, accountable, equitable, safe and peaceful place for all – regardless of the intersections of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality or other identities. 

It is time to face our unfinished journey toward racial justice and to be conscious of our state’s history of lynching and Jim Crow laws and of the University of Arkansas’ history as a segregated school that still does not yet look like the state it serves.

It is time to fortify and expand our efforts to achieve a world that is anti-racist and inclusive. 

We cannot move forward any other way.

As tensions remain high and protests continue across the country, we call upon our students, faculty, staff and alumni to recommit themselves to realizing Dr. King’s dream of a community whose members are not “judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

While we remain dispersed by a pandemic, we ask you to join together in spirit to remake our campus and the world beyond through the hard and uncomfortable work of examining our failures to realize our goal of rich diversity, true equity, and seamless inclusion.

The Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is committed to both leading this work and to hearing the hard truths that need to be spoken so that they are not forgotten and are instead addressed.

We ask you to join us in building a more welcoming, just and safe Fulbright College and U of A.

We ask you to think of one tangible step you can take today to move in that direction, and to do so.

We ask you to sign up for workshops, classes and experiences to learn more about how we can support one another and our campus community in taking positive action that fosters safety, belonging, justice, equity and peace.

And we ask you to strengthen our diversity and inclusion efforts through all we do in our teaching, research and service – for we must listen, learn, and then lead by example and action to do better.

Now, more than ever before, our work to create an inclusive, anti-racist campus and world matters – though it is our deep hope that messages like this will soon no longer even be necessary as we strive to create even a greater future for us all.

Sincerely,

Your Fulbright College Dean’s Office

No one should ever have to go through or experience anything like the violent attacks in Georgia this week, which targeted three Atlanta-area spas and disproportionally attacked and killed six Asian American women.

Racism, xenophobia and violence in all forms are unacceptable. We see, we hear, we stand with, and we support our Asian and Asian Pacific Islander communities.

We want change, and we are advocating daily to make our campus, country and the world beyond a better, safer, more just and compassionate place.

We are committed to doing the work to stop AAPI hate, and to help create a world where everyone can live with dignity and be free from fear.

Dear Fulbright College family,

Our work to create an inclusive, anti-racist campus and world is crucial.

And there is no more compelling case for this than reading the hundreds of #BlackatUARK tagged experiences of racism shared on social media by our students, faculty, staff and alumni – by you, our Fulbright College family. 

These posts are heartbreaking, painful and infuriating because the experiences they describe are unacceptable.

We have to do better, and we have to do it together.

We have to make sure our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students feel safe and supported, that we hear them and acknowledge the role we’ve played in perpetuating systemic racism. We cannot turn away from the hard and uncomfortable work of examining our failures.

Part of that is recognizing that the legacy of our college’s very namesake – Fulbright – is complex. Several of his political actions directly contradicted his efforts to advance cultural understanding, exchange and tolerance.

We will soon be announcing dates for upcoming Town Hall Conversations with our dean and associate deans to frankly discuss this and so much more.

For we must look deeper, and we must build a more welcoming, just and safe Fulbright College and U of A – one where Black lives matter and because of this all lives are made better.

We ask each of you to join us in these efforts, to join in one of the upcoming June Transforming the University of Arkansas sessions being offered by the U of A’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Vice Chancellor Yvette Murphy-Erby.

Additionally, here are some of the ways the college is working to create an inclusive, anti-racist campus. Some of these projects have been in the works for years or months, and some are new initiatives, but all are intended to help us foster safety, belonging, justice, equity and peace.

But this is only the beginning.

We must continuously keep asking ourselves what we can to do to be agents of positive change, and we know much more is needed.

We invite anyone who desires to share their story, perspective or feedback with us on their experiences of racism on campus through our D&I website form, and to let us know: 

  1. What do we need to stop doing?
  2. What do we need to start doing?
  3. What do we need to continue to do more of?

 We thank those who have shared their stories through #BlackatUARK. We are listening, we are here to do the needed work, and we are committed to creating an even better future for us all.

 

Sincerely, 

Your Fulbright College Dean’s Office