Targeting Discrimination: Task force developing actions to ensure equity

Now more than ever, we want to be sure that Longwood is a caring, welcoming second home for students where respect and equity of treatment are ensured for everyone.

President Reveley—describing recent weeks as a “national moment of reckoning regarding systemic racial inequality and discrimination” that requires action, not just words—announced yesterday the appointment of a campus Equity Action Task Force.

With a membership of students, faculty, alumni, staff and three members of the president’s cabinet, the task force will operate under a broad charge, including the development of three specific actionable steps to be implemented for fall 2020.

I hope you will read the full text of the president’s message, which provides a detailed and thoughtful look at what Longwood is currently doing to ensure equity and diversity, acknowledges that more needs to be done and lays out details for how the university will move forward with urgency in this critical area.

Here is a brief summary of the three specific steps that create a focus for the work of the task force:

1)     A Commitment Against Incidents of Bias or Discrimination. “Any incident of discrimination goes against Longwood’s deepest values, and also its rules,” said Reveley. “But I believe we need a stronger, and more straightforward, process in place on campus to ensure any such reports are addressed seriously and fairly.” This would include creating an office focused on adherence to Title VI, the portion of the federal civil rights law that concerns racial discrimination.

2)     Engagement By Every Student with the Moton Museum and Farmville’s Civil Rights History. In 2015, Longwood entered into a formal partnership with the Moton Museum (shown in the photo above), which honors Prince Edward County’s consequential civil rights history and the role of students at its Moton High School in the civil rights movement. A growing number of Longwood students have been visiting the museum each year as part of their classes or extracurricular activities. “For some time, I’ve felt every Longwood student should have that experience,” Reveley said. “Now is the time to make that so. The museum has something to teach all of us.”

3)     Conversations on Campus. President Reveley has asked the task force to determine how best to structure conversations among members of the Longwood community—particularly students—who will return to campus this fall “profoundly affected by recent national events … [and] seeking space to converse, listen, process, heal and develop plans for action. These conversations may be difficult. But as a training ground of citizen leaders, Longwood has a particular obligation to guide and facilitate them,” Reveley said.

In concluding his message, Reveley states: “Again, the steps I am announcing today are by no means our only efforts in this regard. But I hope they will give some urgency and purpose to that work, focusing us on tangible goals where we can make progress, looking ahead to when we are back together again soon.”

—Sabrina Brown