University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Department Statement on Race, Diversity, and Social Justice

The Department of Political Science and Legal Studies Program stand in solidarity with protestors, activists, and all people calling for racial justice and an end to systemic racism in the United States. We are unified in acknowledging that racism, oppression, and violence against people of color have permeated American history, and remain profound and fundamental obstacles to justice, equality, and equitable opportunity in this nation. The killings by police of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and too many others – and the failure of the nation’s legal and political institutions to secure justice for them and their families – underscore the glaring gaps between our values and the reality experienced by many people living in the United States, including our friends, colleagues, students, and members of the UMass community.

We reaffirm our commitment to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s BIPOC students – to your academic success, your safety and well-being, and our shared struggle to advance justice, equality, and transparency at the university, in your communities, and in the world. We believe it is our responsibility and privilege to support you, and stand with you, in your efforts. It is also our responsibility to consider our own circumstances, including, where applicable, our own privilege, and to commit to using our positions, resources, and privileges to confront racial injustice.

We believe that advancing racial justice and confronting racism are central to our educational mission. Broadening intercultural and global perspectives, understanding diverse social, economic, and political systems, and identifying, analyzing, and addressing injustices are at the core of what we do in Political Science and Legal Studies, and are essential for both faculty and students to do the work of anti-racism. Integrating and highlighting marginalized voices in the curriculum, classes, and co-curricular activities is central to this effort.

We believe that increasing the diversity of our faculty, staff, and students – and taking appropriate steps to help them thrive in our community – must be a top priority. For far too long, BIPOC peoples have been excluded from or marginalized within higher education. Our department must be a leader in recruiting, retaining, rewarding, and promoting diverse faculty and staff; and it must be a leader in recruiting, retaining inspiring, and supporting diverse students.

Remaining silent in the face of deeply entrenched racism and discrimination is unacceptable; failing to take concrete action is worse. The Department of Political Science commits to taking the following specific concrete actions to confront racism and advance equality in our department, at the university, and in American society:

  • We will offer and publicize on a dedicated webpage a wide array of courses focusing on racial (in)equality, systemic racism, and diversity
  • We will create standard procedures, as well as a dedicated webpage, to publicize faculty and student research and accomplishments addressing race, racism/anti-racism, and social justice
  • We will assess and report on faculty, graduate student, and undergraduate student diversity in comparison with peer institutions and the discipline as a whole
  • We will review faculty and staff hiring practices, and ensure that our procedures follow best practices for recruiting and retaining diverse faculty and staff
  • We will join our discipline’s diversity mentoring and recruitment programs and feature diversity resources and findings on our website
  • We will develop standardized procedures to promote diverse faculty and graduate students for university awards, scholarships, and forms of recognition
  • We will revamp department internal and external publicity to ensure that a diverse array of faculty and student accomplishments are recognized.