Social Justice Action Committee

The brutal injustice of George Floyd's death at the hands of police has continued to galvanize people across the nation to demand real change to combat systemic racism. The demands extend beyond changes in police practices and apply to all aspects of society, including health care, educational reform and economic equity.

Wayne State has a long history of meaningful engagement with society, and our mission includes "positively impacting local and global communities." What better university than Wayne State to step up in this time of need and take real action? Who better than our campus community to demonstrate through real action how to reduce and eliminate implicit and explicit biases, and improve diversity, equity and inclusion?

In my view, no university is better prepared and poised to make a difference, and today I announce the creation of the Social Justice Action Committee (SJAC), which will drive culture change and foster a climate of inclusion and equity throughout the university. 

Specifically, the charge of the committee will be to (1) examine internal policies, procedures and practices to identify bias throughout the Wayne State University campus that may disproportionately disadvantage historically marginalized peoples, and also (2) recommend specific actions for consideration of immediate, medium and long-term implementation to eliminate the identified bias and to advance social justice and equity for historically marginalized peoples at Wayne State University. 

The overall SJAC Committee will subdivide and provide leadership for the following working groups, two of which (Campus Climate, and Intercultural Training and Education) are already established and operational:

  • Hiring and retention of diverse faculty.
  • Hiring and retention of diverse staff.
  • Student access and success.
  • Policing.
  • Intercultural education and training, i.e., the development of educational experiences/training around issues of implicit bias in hiring and retention, race and racism, and other issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
  • Campus climate, which will continue to turn the results of the Campus Climate Study into substantive change.
  • University DEI initiatives, which will include university-wide projects, initiatives and other efforts that impact both the campus and larger community of which we are a part.

Committee membership has been mostly established, and is based on the need to include positional expertise, formal and informal leaders, and a balance of racial, ethnic and gender diversity. It will have broad representation, including faculty, staff, students, community leaders and administrators at all levels of the university.  

Ultimately, the result of the SJAC will be the development and implementation of policies, procedures and practices that bring about equitable outcomes for everyone. The SJAC will be charged with presenting a final report to me in November with findings, recommendations and action steps from each working group. However, as this is the Social Justice Action Committee, informed by the findings of the working groups, we intend to take urgent and immediate action as appropriate. Other corrective actions will be identified, prioritized and implemented as time and resources allow. 

We will continue to inform you of progress on this important initiative. We expect to have a website supporting the SJAC by next week, and we will also share information through other communications channels when appropriate, including internal media, social media and town halls. 

While there are individuals and units responsible for leading this work, the responsibility for creating a bias-free, inclusive and equitable institution rests with each of us. We can make our mission a reality, and we can, together, create a more equitable society, starting right here and right now in our campus community. 

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