Mandatory anti-racism course at OSU

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Oregon State University’s Institutional Diversity slogan is “We Have Work To Do”. It is time to tell OSU that WE CAN DO THE WORK.

Oregon State has remained performative in terms of social justice and oppression on racialized and marginalized populations. This approach perpetuates racism at the institutional level and does not remedy the ongoing racism at the school and in Oregon. This community is complicit each time it chooses to address racism, whether on campus or during a global movement, with only words and unfulfilled promises. Rather than claiming solidarity, we need to actually participate.

It is time to put those words, “we have work to do”, into action. It is not the duty of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students to educate their peers. This is the responsibility of this university and should be implemented through a mandatory pro-diversity, anti-racism, open-dialogue course for all degrees at Oregon State University.

This cannot be a workshop or brief training. This needs to be at least a full-term class that includes ongoing, impactful discourse with students. Students need to be able to ask questions in a safe space, they need to be able to learn about the history of race in Oregon, and they need to be given tangible exercises for unlearning bias and stigma and embracing diversity. OSU offers such courses — for example, a number of DPD core courses encompass conversations about race, gender and intersectional oppression, however not all of the DPD options include these conversations, and what’s more, many of the course options look at racism from a historical context.

Alana Lentin (2016) describes Frozen Racism vs Motile Racism -- “by freezing so-called ‘real racism’ in historical time, we allow discrimination and abuse to continue polyvalently under the guise of purportedly post-racism arguments … Racism thus becomes debatable.”

We need to not only talk about racism in a historical context but as a mobile entity that we must continuously combat. History courses and cultural enrichment courses are a valuable part of any education, but here I am proposing that in order to ever hope to remove systemic and institutional racism, we need to be active about practicing anti-racism.

The course I propose, tentatively titled Equity, Social Justice, and Peace: Embracing Human Diversity and Eliminating Racism, will follow the structure of Bi175: Genomes, Identities, and Societies, which was successfully optimized for virtual instruction this past term. The course will consist of readings, media and mini-lectures about the current events with a focus on institutional racism, but will include examples of other axes of inequality (for example, the treatment of transgender or gender non conforming people in society). Roughly one-third of class hours will be dedicated to these readings/media/mini-lectures, the next third will consist of open dialogue among students, and the final third will consist of dissecting examples of inequity in different occupational settings and compiling research-based interventions to those examples.

Oregon State University is a place where students grow into our future leaders; future lawyers, doctors, teachers, nurses, therapists, and public servants of Oregon are proud to say they learned HERE. It can no longer be the case that our future is held in the hands of those who claim they “didn’t know better”. We all need to know better.

The revolution cannot leave Oregon behind once again. We need to be proactive about allyship and inclusion for BIPOC on the Oregon State campus.

It is a privilege to learn about racism instead of experiencing it your whole life .”

Thank you!

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Acknowledgments, citations, and notes

This post was greatly inspired by Khadija, a student activist at Carleton University who is spearheading a similar campaign. 

The paper referenced in this petition -- Lentin, A. (2016). Racism in public or public racism: doing anti-racism in ‘post-racial’ times. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 39(1), 33-48. -- and others that inspired this movement are linked in the shared doc OSU Anti-Racism Petition Citations

No donations are being requested! Only voices! Any donations made in this petition form go to change. org and not to the petition organizer. 

It’s important to be exposed to new things that you had never thought of before, because I don’t really think there’s any other way for your mind to grow” - Brontez Purnell: Queer, Black Oaklander, writer, punk rocker, artist