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La Salle News

October 12, 2020

Strengthening La Salle’s community of inclusivity

Multiple resources are available to support diversity and anti-racism at La Salle.

It’s up to each member of the La Salle University community to play a role in fostering a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus environment. Discrimination based on gender, culture, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or political affiliation has no place in the Lasallian educational mission.

That responsibility requires continuous listening and learning, a thorough examination of personal behaviors and biases, and speaking up when you see bias-related injustices.

“Bias is antithetical to our mission and is not tolerated at La Salle University,” said La Salle’s Vice President of Mission, Diversity and Inclusion Br. Ernest Miller, FSC, D. Min., M.A. ’95. “Our community must always support just action and reflect our core Lasallian Catholic values.”

La Salle is actively taking inventory of its culture and institutional infrastructure through the establishment of the Joint Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which is co-chaired by Shakeya Currie-Foreman, J.D, employee and labor relations specialist, Office of Human Resources; Luisa Marcela Ossa, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish, area chair of the undergraduate Spanish program; and Miller. President Colleen M. Hanycz, Ph.D., and members of the Commission have met with Black alumni to learn about their experiences dealing with systemic racism as students on campus. The Commission is working to identify prospective curricular strategies that will advance a climate of diversity, equity, and inclusion at La Salle, and investigating and recommending any specific policy and/or structural changes that will advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within University operations.

The Commission’s ongoing work will inform the University’s next and necessary steps toward eradicating intolerance, Miller said.

Whether you wish to learn more about anti-racism and inclusivity, or report a bias-related incident, La Salle offers resources and programs to its students, faculty, staff, and Christian Brothers. Many are just a click away.

Reporting bias-related incidents

“Bias, hate, and discrimination are antithetical to our mission and are not tolerated at La Salle University,” Miller said in a message to the La Salle community. A reporting structure specific to bias-related incidents exists at the University. Whether someone at La Salle has been a victim of or witness to a bias-related incident, the University encourages members of the community to report these incidents through this system.

You can report any bias-related incident, on- or off-campus, through the mylasalle Portal. Bias-related behaviors include: language and behavior that demonstrate bias against persons because of, but not limited to, actual or perceived color, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, national origin, race, religion, and/or sexual orientation.

Once a bias-related incident is reported, it is investigated by the University in tandem with Public Safety, the Division of Student Affairs, and the Office of Human Resources, and elevated as needed depending on the outcome of the investigation. If you feel that a student or others could be in immediate danger, you are encouraged to contact La Salle Public Safety immediately by calling 215-951-1300 or the Philadelphia Police Department by dialing 911.

Multicultural and International Center

With a commitment to expanding opportunities for culturally diverse, traditionally under-represented populations in higher education, the Multicultural and International Center works with the entire campus community to improve awareness of, and appreciation for, racial and cultural diversity in the University and beyond.

The Center provides a range of academic support and personal development services and events, such as luncheons, reunions, and employment workshops that are open to the entire student body regardless of background or cultural affiliations. Contact Cherylyn Rush, the Center’s director, for more information.

Academic and educational resources

Perhaps you have academic curiosity to satisfy or an assignment to complete. Connelly Library offers a wealth of resources, whether online or in-person, through which patrons can learn more about diversity, inclusion, racism, and anti-racism.

By utilizing the Summon search box on the Connelly Library home page, users can access a multitude of books, eBooks, academic journals, and podcasts. Any topic can be filtered easily by content, date, and discipline by clicking on the left-hand side. (For example, you can produce unique results for a particular search, like “diversity and inclusion on college campuses” in academic journals or books and eBooks.)

Connelly Library’s website also has Current Issue databases that frequently cover issues like diversity and racism, among other current topics.

Additionally, faculty and staff at La Salle have contributed to a list of essential readings on diversity, equity and inclusion. Many of these suggested readings are available at Connelly Library.

Ferguson and Beyond

Further educational resources on diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism are available to employees and students through the Ferguson and Beyond group on Canvas. All faculty members are encouraged to integrate into their courses the readings shared in the group, which include “What Teachers Should Learn From the Murder of George Floyd,” and Ossa’s op-ed for Medium, titled “The Myth of White Fear,” along with quizzes and modules.

Explorer Café

The Explorer Café series brings together the La Salle community for engaging, interactive discussions on thought-provoking topics and issues. This fall, the Explorer Café lineup features virtual presentations related to diversity and inclusion, racism and anti-racism, including a presentation scheduled for Oct. 21 titled Is Implicit Bias Unhealthy?

Continuous dialogue

In line with La Salle’s mission, the University’s students and employees are constantly engaged in efforts that pursue equality, justice, and inclusivity. Three representatives of La Salle University helped lead a global virtual discussion in June in response to cries for social and racial justice in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minnesota.

The “Responding to Racism” panel drew more than 1,600 participants from 34 countries around the world, with Ossa and Maureen O’Connell, Ph.D., associate professor of Christian Ethics, serving as panelists, and Miller acting as a co-moderator.

United in faith

Campus Ministry supports many Catholic and interfaith initiatives at La Salle that help foster a supportive and inclusive community. In-person and virtual Campus Ministry events are ongoing throughout the academic year. Last spring, while separated geographically, the University’s Christian Brothers united the La Salle community through weekly prayer reflections they led on social media.

—Patrick Berkery