Conversations about racial justice have been ongoing at Loyola University Maryland. After the unrest in Baltimore in April 2015, the campus community—as well as the greater Baltimore community—began to speak about race in different ways, delving more deeply into a conversation about race on campus.
Beginning in 2015 and continuing through today, several students at Loyola have worked to raise awareness of the racial injustice existing within the campus community, while also highlighting the importance of the Black Lives Matter conversation.
In Fall 2015 students approached the University administration about incorporating racial justice training, and Susan M. Donovan, Ph.D., executive vice president and acting president at the time, agreed that it would be essential to building a strong future for Loyola. Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., president, returned from his sabbatical in Spring 2016 and added his support to the initiative.
The University’s new strategic plan, The Ignatian Compass: Guiding Loyola University Maryland to Ever Greater Excellence, endorsed in October 2016, highlights the importance of addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Loyola.
Creating the Training
To create the training, BRJA begins by assessing the needs of the Loyola University Maryland community. The assessment process allows key stakeholder groups:
- to express their concerns and questions in facilitated dialogues with BRJA;
- to determine how key stakeholder groups understand the need for a long-term equity initiative at Loyola;
- to gather information on the stakeholders’ perceived state of issues of race at Loyola;
- to gather information about community members’ own understanding of race and racism;
- to gauge the amount of resistance to a racial equity initiative that may be present on campus; to provide the data necessary for custom-designed racial equity workshops to ensure training is targeted to the most significant needs;
- and to determine if campus discourse and messaging is consistent with a value or and commitment to racial equity.
After assessment has been completed and analyzed, BRJA will deliver a training to meet the needs of the community. That training, which will be offered to all undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and administrators, will be designed to offer an initial experience to promote further discussion and engagement on the important issues of racial justice.
The purpose of the training will be to aid the members of the Loyola community:
- to develop an understanding of each person’s own racial journey and subconscious biases;
- to build a common language
- to clarify the rules of engagement
- to illuminate relevant history and demonstrate the importance of a knowledge of history
- to be able to recognize and learn to interrupt resistance to new ideas in others, and more importantly in ourselves
Work and advocacy around racial justice has been an ongoing effort at Loyola University Maryland. This timeline offers a few highlights in recent history to offer some context for the creation of racial justice training.
- Spring 2015: President's Cabinet begin discussions and exploration of Chief Diversity Officer position
- October 2015: Dr. Sheilah Horton and Fr. Tim Brown, S.J. begin listening sessions with key stakeholders, regarding community thoughts, observations, and experiences of diversity at Loyola
- November 2015: Students of color hold a demonstration bringing to light their experiences of bias and racism at Loyola.
- November 2015: Students from the demonstration meet with Acting President, members of the President’s Cabinet, Academic Affairs, Mission-related offices, and the division of Student Development.
- November 2015: Faculty produce statement supporting students acting against racism at Loyola.
- December 2015: Acting President, Dr. Susan Donovan, meets with Green & Grey Society, Department Chairs, Faculty Assembly, Strategic Planning Steering Committee, administrators, staff and student leaders.
- December 2015: Students form the Council for Inclusion, Change & Equality (CICE)
- January 2016: Fr. Brian F. Linnane, S.J. appoints the President’s Task Force for Racial Justice.
- March 2016: Dr. Sheilah Horton and Fr. Tim Brown, S. J. present data from listening sessions to university community.
- Spring 2016: President’s Task Force researches & interviews potential organizations & trainers.
- May 2016: President's Task Force submits racial justice training proposal to the Cabinet.
- May 2016: President’s Cabinet attends Racial Justice Workshop facilitated by Pax Christi.
- June 2016: Cabinet accepts the proposal to contract with Baltimore Racial Justice Action.
- July 2016: Executive Vice President signs contract with BRJA.
- August 2016: Co-Chairs named for racial justice training implementation (RJTI) committee.
- October 2016: RJTI board members invited & Co-Chairs begin meeting with BRJA.
- November 2016: BRJA begins to meet with members of campus community and first workshops are offered.
- Present: Meetings with members of the community and trainings continue.