Institutional Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
My Dearest SUNY Plattsburgh,
It has been over a month since the murder of George Floyd and though I have not shared directly with you what is on my heart, the work that has happened and that will be happening, it is time to share our plans to make SUNY Plattsburgh a safe campus that protects our Black students, faculty and staff - as well as other marginalized community members.
I appreciated the emails, texts and calls from community members that shared their concern and support for me, for my family and for our work at Plattsburgh. Know that the terror, sadness, and horror you experienced with George Floyd's homicide has traumatized many of our students and alumni. They need our support more than ever, and not just in words, but in actions.
To be transparent, as a Black Afro-Caribbean woman, I am exhausted, but I am propelled by my hope for what we can do together. I came to Plattsburgh because I was moved by the student activism that I saw as a result of the SnapChat racist comments, and I came to be a change agent. Despite whatever emotions I feel, I am committed to the work of equity and justice, and to lasting change. I am committed to supporting the student activism I saw in 2018.
The idea that many of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, their families and friends need to convince others that they are human and that they should be seen and that they matter, is in itself dehumanizing. But wishing for a change is not enough. Writing about change is not enough. As your Vice President for Diversity Equity and Inclusion, I have to push for the change that will make SUNY Plattsburgh a more inclusive campus. When we do that our students will feel a sense of belonging and know that our actions match our words. And for me that is non-negotiable.
As I push away my fears and my frustrations with the current state of our Plattsburgh community, the North Country, and the country’s state of race relations, I want to insist that we double down our efforts for systemic reform. We can’t change everything, but we can have an impact at SUNY Plattsburgh, in the communities around the college, and in the communities we live in. But these are words and it is important for me to share the actions we have done and plan to do for the summer, fall and spring.
These are the actions:
- We began by hosting a Solidarity Night on May 29 for us to come together as a community to grieve and acknowledge the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, which were lost in the last months.
- We continue to host caucuses or affinity groups over the summer which are digital “Brave Spaces,” to support and lift up voices from within the SUNY Plattsburgh community that are committed to the racial justice and anti-racism work.
- Register for Be About it Act NOW! (Resources->Anti-Racist Resources->What To Do)
- We will host a webinar on July 30 for the bi-state; New York and Vermont region and Canada called Supporting Black Employees, to provide employers with resources and concrete action steps to support Black Employees.
- We will continue in the fall by hosting community dialogues that bring together all the affinity groups to share stories, disrupt unjust narratives and behaviors, and speak as a community.
- We will host a community-wide racial healing event in the fall to begin healing the hurt that has occurred from racist incidents. We are finalizing the appearance of a nationally renowned anti-racism educator.
- We will also host a community event on Black Solidarity Day, November 2 to help catalyze action.
- With the help of our faculty, we will have a Super Teach-in in the spring to broaden our anti-oppression efforts.
As I create, I am asking you to join me, plan with me, lead with me, and when I reach out for your help, please answer my call in both your words and your actions. I will call on the community; faculty, staff, students, alumni, and external community members.
Thank you for hearing my voice. Know that your voices and experiences matter, and let’s be open as a community to listen to the voices of others who want to share their stories and work to move this mountain of injustice to a place of justice for those in the margins.
In Solidarity and with good wishes always!
MICHELLE CROMWELL, PhD.
Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion/ Chief Diversity Officer
- COVID-19 Statement
Why Diversity Matters
At SUNY Plattsburgh, we know that diversity is more than race, sex, gender, and sexual orientation. It is the full range of human experiences.
Diversity includes age, class, ethnicity, race, gender identity, gender expression, romantic orientation, nationality, (dis)ability, religion, sexual orientation, language, personality, communication style, work style, veteran status and more.
What is Inclusion?
Diversity is only a start. Inclusion is what occurs when students feel a strong sense of belonging. We are committed to offering a range of programs, policies, and practices that engage with the unique range of human experience you bring to SUNY Plattsburgh.
We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.
Max de Pree