A Call for New Leadership at St. Olaf College
This petition had 1,517 supporters
We call on the St. Olaf Board of Regents to take an active, transformative stand against racism. St. Olaf is a microcosm of the larger US culture, where recent events make clear that racism infects every sphere of life. The Presiding Bishop of the ELCA reminded us on May 29, 2020 that the church calls us "to confront and exorcize the sins of injustice, racism and white supremacy in church and society." This includes church colleges. How St. Olaf responds to this call will determine its future and its survival.
The 2017 protests against racism on campus highlighted this. In the ensuing years, students, faculty and alumni have repeatedly presented the evidence to the Board with demands and proposals for change. Most recently, two black faculty members resigned and published powerful letters describing the racially toxic campus environment that contributed to their decisions.
What needs to happen has been clearly defined, yet the administration has failed to meaningfully engage or effect real change. Equity & Inclusion Centers and Councils don't address the root causes. The College has a responsibility to educate all students so they are prepared to recognize, understand, and challenge racial inequities in every aspect of life in the 21st century. This requires crucial changes to culture, curriculum, personnel and policy.
The time is now for St. Olaf to humbly acknowledge its cultural and structural racism and whole-heartedly pursue becoming an anti-racist institution. We lack confidence that current administrative leadership brings the understanding and commitment to acknowledge or pursue this goal.
Therefore, we the undersigned, call on St. Olaf to adopt new leadership criteria to select persons who:
· understand race and racism historically and in the current context
· demonstrate experience, dedication, and enthusiasm for anti-racist work
· examine every aspect of the college through the lens of anti-racism
· embrace the inherent discomfort in anti-racist work
· lead with humility and courage
Furthermore, we call on the St. Olaf Board of Regents to initiate an immediate search for a new President and Provost who have the qualities, experience, and skills necessary in this critical transformational moment.
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