Commitment to Antiracism

Mills College Board of Trustees
October 2020

Responding to the urgent call of the Black Lives Matter movement to reckon with racism, the Board of Trustees of Mills College has established an Antiracism Working Group, through which we will work with the full board, the College President, College Officers, and the Special Assistant for Equity and Inclusion in the coming months. Together we will listen, learn, and act. We have heard, and will continue to hear, from a range of constituent groups in the Mills community and develop specific actions that we will hold ourselves accountable to as a board. We will support the administration, faculty, and staff as they develop comprehensive policies and practices to advance antiracism. This document is a first step in our commitment to make Mills College an antiracist institution.

Background

Mills College has long been committed to non-discrimination. Beginning in 1990, the College—at the urging of the Alumnae of Color Committee as well as numerous student affinity groups, faculty, and staff—has taken more active steps to increase racial and ethnic diversity and inclusion. For the last 10 years, racial justice has been an explicit goal of the Mills mission. All of these efforts have yielded important changes in the diversity of the Mills community.1 But racial bias and toxic microclimates continue to disrupt the work and education of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students, faculty, and staff. The board believes that Mills College needs to take bolder, proactive steps to create a working, living, and learning environment that produces true equity of experience for all of its members, and relates more closely to the surrounding East Oakland communities.

The Present Moment

It is time to commit to being an antiracist institution. As the work of Black Lives Matter has demonstrated so forcefully, racism in the United States is systemic. We must acknowledge the reality that Mills College is not isolated from the White supremacy that has shaped American society since its founding and continues to this day. We must reckon with our history, find effective ways to react to and repair the damage caused by racist incidents at Mills. Further, we will support faculty and staff as they identify and change policies and practices that yield disparate results for White and BIPOC students, faculty, and staff on campus, and we will be proactive in developing initiatives that advance our goal to become an antiracist institution.

Antiracism begins with the recognition that explicit and implicit White supremacy, rooted in a fabricated theory of race, has shaped institutions in the United States since its founding. The concept of race has been used for more than 400 years to rationalize colonialism, enslavement, immigration exclusions, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other systems of injustice that betray the vision of a more just society. To achieve structural change in our society, and eradicate anti-Black racism, it is incumbent on every institution to examine its role in perpetuating the racist status quo.

To be an antiracist institution, Mills College must not tolerate racist bias and incidents on campus; and it must develop the means to respond quickly and effectively when they occur. The College must identify racial disparities and inequities that result from past and current policies and practices, whether explicitly or implicitly. To support Mills as it becomes an antiracist institution, the board will endorse initiatives to eliminate racial disparities in all aspects of institutional life, such as hiring and evaluating faculty and staff, enrollment and degree completion, student life, the curriculum, the classroom, remote learning, academic programs, and finances.

To begin this process, the board must:

  • Pledge, as individuals, to listen, learn, and strive to become antiracist; and develop together a list of resources to accomplish this goal;
  • Engage regularly in discussions with faculty, staff, students, and alums to learn more about their experiences with racism and their goals regarding antiracism;
  • Hold ourselves accountable for our board practices, composition, protocols, and actions;
  • Add to every board committee charter the responsibility to “review relevant antiracist initiatives, policies, and practices and to assess their effectiveness;”
  • Direct the College officers to investigate the outcomes of current practices and policies, develop new, proactive antiracist measures in their areas of responsibility, and assess the effectiveness of these initiatives to ensure measurable progress.

1 In academic year 2019–20, 63% of undergraduates, 55% of graduate students, 46% of full-time faculty, and 42% of part-time faculty were BIPOC; staff who have reported the percentages are 52% of full-time staff and 35% of part-time staff were BIPOC. These percentages are quite high for historically white undergraduate colleges in the US.