Recent Communications on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at UCF
During May and June of this year, a series of communications were distributed by UCF’s leadership. Excerpts of these messages are provided below to help serve as a reminder to us all: We must listen and support one another as we continue our charge toward an actively anti-racist, inclusive environment.
Now Is Our Time to be Actively Anti-Racist
A note from Interim Chief Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Officer S. Kent Butler on the importance of building each other up.
BY S. KENT BUTLER | MAY 29, 2020
COVID-19 has exposed societal inequities and impacted us all in some way, and recent high-profile instances of bias and racism just add to the difficulties so many of us are already facing.
From the deaths of Breonna, Ahmaud and George to our brothers and sisters of Asian descent who are being unfairly discriminated against in connection to the pandemic, racism is painfully real and something so many of us live with every day.
Leaving the house is an action that may seem ordinary for some, but for individuals who deal with regular hatred and judgment — just for looking how they look, being who they are, loving who they love, or living according to their faith — we live with anxiety and fear about walking into unwelcoming spaces.
Yet, we still leave our homes. Our lived experiences and our histories are still worth listening to. Our stories matter.
At UCF, in my corner of the world, I try to bring this awareness to those with whom I interact daily.
With more than 80,000 students and faculty and staff members, each of us has a story and a part to play in building this inclusive community. We all need to be listened to and learned from.
We also need to be comfortable with the discomfort born from honest, difficult dialogues about race and culture. And these conversations must happen regularly, not just in reaction to tragic and gut-wrenching headline-grabbing incidents of racism.
We do not want to imagine something terrible or tragic happening close to home or to a person we love, because it is painful to think about. We choose to shield ourselves from these painful thoughts, but others do not have that luxury. It is their reality.
But it is time we share those stories, and more importantly, that we truly listen to them. Ultimately, we all have a need to express our feelings about the discrimination and violence we have been inundated with recently, especially those we experience firsthand.
Sharing our stories helps us understand the humanity of those around us and, hopefully, leads us to embrace differences. Most importantly, it reminds us to treat everyone the way we would want to be treated, as stated in the UCF Creed and the values that guide us.
Breaking down barriers is not easy, but as Knights, we have the power to do it together by creating an environment that encourages a space for our stories and embraces equity, inclusion and diversity.
It is going to take all of us to do better — to be better — to change our society. I look forward to sharing more in the near future about plans for engaging our campus community in discussions about these topics and our plans for investing in UCF’s inclusion and diversity initiatives.
Please stay vigilant and safe and be mindful of the stories and realities of those around you. They matter, they are worth listening to and they contribute to the fabric of the UCF that we all love.
Our Future Is Inclusion
UCF’s President emphasized the university’s commitment to be actively anti-racist and urges Knights to participate in a virtual conversation about race and unity.
By UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright | June 2, 2020
So many members of our community are hurting right now, shattered by recent deaths that echo the long history of racial injustices that have plagued our country.
As I write this, I realize words are inadequate to address this pain. But I share in the horror of George Floyd’s murder and understand the pain and anger it has sparked.
What is needed now is action — a commitment from our university to not merely celebrate our diversity, but to be actively anti-racist.
Systemic racism, sexism, homophobia and other hateful ideologies seek to deny our shared humanity. They must be called out and confronted. They do not reflect the values of our UCF community.
Learning From Each Other
One way we can take immediate action is to learn from each other.
Listening to each other’s stories helps each of us learn and grow. We welcome discussions about lived experiences along with suggestions for how we can collectively move forward on our campus.
Educational tools such as the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture’s newly launched “Talking About Race” online portal provide valuable resources for self-reflection.
Still, reflection must be paired with action and a commitment to stand against racism in all its forms. At UCF, hate and bias-related incidents are responded to by the Just Knights Response Team, which serves as a resource for our entire community to help ensure a safe and inclusive UCF experience.
Connections to other campus support networks are provided by UCF’s Office of Social Justice and Advocacy.
Change Starts at UCF
Change starts with each one of us, including leaders across the university who must actively embrace diversity and inclusive excellence in their words and actions, especially in mentoring and hiring. It will take all of us working on critical race issues to build a better UCF.
UCF is not perfect. I want us to demonstrate to the world what can be achieved when more of us work together toward a shared humanity.
Since interviewing to come to UCF, I have said that our university looks like the future of America. Looking like the future of America is a great start but not sufficient. We must be the example for the rest of the country and world for how a community fully commits to inclusive excellence.
Black Lives Matter. You matter.
Alexander N. Cartwright
We Must Do Better at UCF
President Alexander N. Cartwright outlined early plans for a series of actions the university will take to fully commit to equity, diversity and inclusive excellence.
BY UCF COMMUNICATIONS | JUNE 22, 2020
President Alexander N. Cartwright’s plans include elevating the university’s Chief Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Officer to a Vice President position; recruiting and retaining more diverse leaders and faculty; and requiring training for senior administrators.
With a student body that is nearly 70,000 strong and incredibly diverse, UCF must be a model for how a community fully commits to inclusive excellence, President Alexander N. Cartwright told university Trustees during a meeting Thursday.
“Not only is our community dealing with added emotional, personal or financial stress because of the pandemic, but racial and social injustices also weigh heavily upon us right now,” he said. “Witnessing the peaceful demonstrations taking place across our nation and in our community these past few weeks has been very powerful.”
“It has become clear to me that we must do better at UCF. University leadership, in partnership with our students, faculty, staff, and with this board, must take action together to make UCF more inclusive for all.”
Cartwright laid out a series of actions, including elevating the university’s Chief Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Officer to a Vice President position; recruiting and retaining more diverse leaders and faculty; and requiring training for senior administrators.
“We must do a better job promoting a culture of inclusion and holding each other accountable to speak out.”
“UCF is not a place where anyone should ever feel that they cannot be their true selves or that they are not supported because of who they are or what they look like. What we need to do right now is listen to those voices to inform our actions.”
The words in these messages have charged our community of Knights to learn from one another and to take immediate action to dispel hatred, bigotry and other harmful ideologies. Discrimination in any form is wrong. You can help prevent discrimination — it begins with treating others fairly and taking responsibility for our own behavior, and it continues with your commitment to speaking out if you observe discrimination at UCF, or if you experience it yourself.
If any student, faculty or staff member believes they have experienced abusive or discriminatory behavior by any faculty or staff member, we want to know about it. UCF takes every report seriously. Concerns can be reported to UCF’s IntegrityLine, which also takes anonymous complaints, at www.ucfintegrityline.com or 855-877-6049.
If you have been affected by the recent events in our country surrounding discrimination and you would like support, we encourage you to reach out to CAPS or contact UCF’s Office of Social Justice and Advocacy. Employees can also call 877-240-6863 or go to HealthAdvocate.com/members for support through UCF’s Employee Assistance Program.