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July 13th, 2020

A Collective Demand for Action:

Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter

Dear President Montgomery, Dr. Candy McCorkle, Dr. Jennifer Bott, Dr. Diane Anderson, and
Jan Van Der Kley,
Following the murder of George Floyd that launched a national and international debate
regarding racism, President Montgomery put out a call for collective action on June 8th. Dr.
Montgomery noted the necessity to explore how Western Michigan University (WMU) can do a
better job in teaching and research to bring an end to racism as well as recognizing, confronting,
and overcoming implicit biases. WMU’s Strategic Plan, The Gold Standard 2020, explicitly
names the goal of promoting a “diverse, equitable, and inclusive University culture to ensure
social sustainability and accessibility.” i Such an outspoken commitment to student engagement,
inclusion, and diversity necessitates follow through. As graduate students from the Departments
of Sociology and Counselor Education Counseling Psychology, we are providing our collective
response and demand concrete development and implementation of the promises made to
become an antiracist institution.

University Wide Action Steps:

• Modify all undergraduate and graduate curriculum to incorporate a deeper understanding

of how racism pervades all systems and institutions in our society
o By Spring 2021, mandate that faculty curate reading lists, assignments, and class
lectures that center the perspectives of cisgender and transgender Black people ii
and other people of Color
o Require a class across departments on systemic racism for all undergraduate and
graduate students
• List and explain WMU’s plan to make first and second-order changes in each category
(practice, scholarship, teaching) of the research-backed Multicultural Organization
Development (MCOD) frameworkiii
o Include WSA and GSA leadership in the decision making process
• Conduct a systematic review of WMU Police citation, arrest, and use of force incidents
o Organize a panel that mandates, performs, and makes public the constant review
of WMU Police behavior including incidents of misconduct
o Organize a third-party review of body camera policies, public safety reports, and
radio communications
o Contact the Kalamazoo City Manager and City Commission to take this step for
the Kalamazoo Police Department
• Conduct an audit to be completed by Fall 2021 performed by a third party to examine and
address the ways that institutional racism operates within each WMU College and
Department at the levels of undergraduate student, graduate student, and faculty/staff
• Prioritize relationships and contract with Black-owned businesses
• Recruitment
o Require implicit bias and understanding systemic racism training for all search,
hiring, and promotion committees to be completed by Spring 2021

o Use a contribution to diversity statement or other assessment of established

multicultural competence as the first criteria in narrowing the applicant pool for
all faculty, staff, and administrator job openings by Fall 2020 ivv
• Retention and Promotion
o Conduct annual audits of the number of Black, Indigenous, Latinx vi faculty, staff,
and administrators at every level in every program, department, institute, center,
and college, the first of these completed by Summer 2021. These demographics
should reflect the diversity of the nation by Spring 2025.
o Provide resources for advanced training, professional development, mentorship,
tenure, and promotion to Black faculty, staff, and administrators of color
o Reallocate moneyvii and resources to support Black students and other students of
color at the undergraduate and graduate levels, with attention to:
Kalamazoo Promise Scholars
SEITA Scholars programviii
Creation of an annual budget line item for the College Assistance Migrant
Program (CAMP) supporting first-generation studentsix
o Given the WMU annual budgetary line item of $400,000 for international
recruitment, establish specific support structures for international students and
require cultural competence of all university faculty and staff
• Establish accountability measures for faculty by adding the following items to course
evaluations by Spring 2021:
o Question addressing the efficacy of courses with regards to challenging systemic
o Question(s) that allow students to anonymously report their racial/ethnic identity
o Question(s) that allow students to anonymously report incidents of racial bias and
discrimination in the classroom
o Question(s) that assess student perception of faculty awareness of, prevention, or
engagement in racial bias and discrimination in the classroom
• Financially and logistically support research of racism conducted by the Lewis Walker
Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations by reflecting budgetary prioritization
by Fall 2021
• Financially and logistically support systemic racism training by ERACCE (Eliminating
Racism and Celebrating/Creating Equity) and other race-based consultation groups like
Racial Literacy Advocates, LLC x
o Make accessible and invite all university, college, and department leadership to
participate in ERACCE’s “Online Introduction to Systemic Racism Workshop”
with the goal of 50% participation by Summer 2021 xi
• Financially and logistically support the Racial Justice Advisory Board created by Dr.
Montgomery and led by Dr. McCorkle comprised of faculty, staff, alumni, graduate
students and undergraduate students

We understand systemic change presents many challenges, and have included resources to
prevent common failures in diversity work.xiixiii Further we have provided specific data from
WMU that demonstrates the urgency and necessity of this work.xiv We commit to supporting the
work of addressing the above initial action steps by addressing disparities in our own
departments and student groups. We pledge to contribute our sociological and psychological

competencies to sustained university wide efforts and expect to join you in these efforts. We
acknowledge that we are all a part of the problem and must contribute to the solution. To this
point, we have begun collaborating with other student organizations on campus to create an
intersectional anti-racist reading group for students with programming scheduled to begin
Summer 2020.

We look forward to hearing from you by the end of July in order to continue this dialogue.

Counseling Psychology Registered Student Organization
Sociology Graduate Student Association

Signed and Supported by:

Behavior Analysis Graduate Student Organization
Black Student Union
Chi Sigma Iota - Mu Beta
Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Organization
Fulbright Student Organization
Gamma Beta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi
Graduate Student Association (GSA)
National Association of Black Accountants
National Pan-Hellenic Council
Teaching Assistants Union, AFT Local Number 1729 Executive Board
Western Student Association (WSA)
WMU College Democrats

A copy of this letter has been sent to:

Dr. Edward Montgomery, President
Dr. Diane Anderson, Vice President for Student Affairs
Kathy Beauregard, Director for Intercollegiate Athletics
Dr. Jennifer Bott, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Jeffrey Breneman, Vice President for Government Relations
Carrick Craig, General Counsel
Paula Davis, Director of Strategic Communications
Kristen DeVries, Vice President for University Advancement
Dr. Terri Kinzy, Vice President for Research and Innovation
Dr. Candy McCorkle, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion
Tony Proudfoot, Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Communication
Kara Wood, Associate Vice President for Community Partnerships
Dr. Kahler Schuemann, Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Board of Trustees
Jan Van Der Kley, Vice President for Business and Finance and Chief Financial Officer
Michelle Hruska, Executive Assistant Senior to the President
The Western Herald

Dr. Gayle Ruggiero, Interim Medical Director of Sindecuse Health Center

Nathan Nguyen, Director, Office of LBGT Student Services
Scott Merlo, Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police
Dr. Carla Koretsky, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
Capt. David Powell, Dean of the College of Aviation
Dr. Satish Deshpande, Dean of the Haworth College of Business
Dr. Andrea Beach, Acting Co-Dean of the College of Education and Human Development
Dr. Marcia Fetters, Acting Co-Dean of the College of Education and Human Development
Dr. Steven Butt, Interim Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Daniel Guyette, Dean of the College of Fine Arts
Dr. Ron Cisler, Dean of the College of Health and Human Services
Dr. Christine Byrd-Jacobs, Interim Dean of the Graduate College
Dr. Irma Lopez, Interim Dean of Lee Honors College
Julie Garrison, Dean of the University Libraries
Dr. Edwin Martini, Associate Provost of WMUX
Dr. Nancy Mansberger, Director of Academic Labor Relations and Contract Negotiation
Dr. David Reinhold, Associate Provost of Assessment and Undergraduate Studies
Dr. Chris Cheatham, Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Budget and Personnel, Vice Provost of
Enrollment Management, and Vice Provost of Institutional Effectiveness
Thomas Wolf, Chief Information Officer of Information Technology
Dr. Paulo Zagalo-Melo, Associate Provost of the Diether H. Haenicke Institute for Global

ii In solidarity with the mission of Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc. we use the term Black people to affirm and
include “Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black
lives along the gender spectrum.”
iii Pope, R., Reynolds, A., & Mueller, J. (2019). "A change is gonna come": Paradigm shifts to dismantle oppressive
structures. Journal of College Student Development, 60(6), 659-673.
vi We use the term Latinx in the spirit of gender inclusivity, as it represents a variety of gender identities. We also
use Latinx for readability. We acknowledge that some people who identify as Hispanic may be represented here and
acknowledge the differences in ethnic and cultural background and lineages between people from Spain, Central and
South American.
vii As WMU presents with such a strong mission statement focused on diversity and inclusion, it is disappointing to
see that the budget does not allocate more funding to its fourth goal of the Strategic Plan, The Gold Standard 2020. In stark comparison, public safety and university police receive substantially greater
funding from the university with an estimated $3,041,775.
viii The SEITA Scholars program annual support budget is currently $531,122. This support must be increased as
athletic scholarships and grants have an annual budget of $9.8 million and the line item of President’s Scholar
Awards has an annual budget of $2.5 million. To completely support students from diverse backgrounds, SEITA
Scholars need more support and investment from the University. This support must not simply be monetary
investment up front, but sustained, holistic annual investment determined by SEITA Scholars leadership.
ix CAMP currently does not have a line item on the annual budget. This program needs support as WMU goes out
into the community and recruits students for this program through many ways such as community partnerships and
building relationships with their families. Student centered holistic annual support as well as monetary support for
this program is necessary. These students are almost always first-generation students.

x Racial Literacy Advocates, LLC was founded by Dr. Dawnielle Simmons. Dr. Simmons is located in Pennsylvania
and can be contacted at for race-based consultation.
xii Pope, R., Reynolds, A., & Mueller, J. (2019). "A change is gonna come": Paradigm shifts to dismantle oppressive
structures. Journal of College Student Development, 60(6), 659-673.
xiii Pope, R.L, Reynolds, A.L., Mueller, J.A. (2014). Creating multicultural change on campus. Wiley.
xiv WMU reports having a racially and ethnically diverse student body comprising 23% racial and ethnic minorities
and 8% international students representing 101 countries. However, it is
discouraging to see reduced rates of racial diversity reflected in the faculty and administration at WMU. While we could
speculate about the racial climate of WMU, we are fortunate to have access to research conducted on campus to
attest to undergraduate perceptions of race and racial awareness. The Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race
and Ethnic Relations released a report following a study of experiences, beliefs, and attitudes of 2,146 students
comprising 68% of the incoming freshman in the 2011-2012 year. Racial and ethnic diversity: Experiences, beliefs,
and attitudes of 2011 incoming freshman. Western Michigan University, Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of
Race and Ethnic Relations. Retrieved from
f The report reviews research related to racial attitudes as well as compelling findings, highlighting a substantial gap
in the experiences, beliefs, and attitudes of white students as compared to students of color at WMU. For example,
Black students (39%) reported the highest rates of being treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity, followed
by those students that identified as multiracial (32%), Latinx (15%) and then white (2%). Students of color were also
somewhat more likely to disagree with the statement that racial discrimination against Blacks and Latinx has been
largely eliminated. Forty-seven percent of both Blacks and Latinx disagreed with the statement, as compared to 34%
of white students. Therefore, not only are students of color, particularly Black students, having markedly different
experiences at WMU, but the perception that racial discrimination even exists varies significantly. It is also
noteworthy that this survey is based on experiences during a student’s freshman year. One may infer that these
experiences of discrimination and invalidation continue beyond the first year and contribute to the disparities in
retention of students at WMU. In a 2012 qualitative study by Dr. Candy McCorkle, African American WMU
students reported that they experienced both overt and covert racism from faculty, staff, and other students.
McCorkle, Candy S., "First-Generation, African American Students' Experiences of Persisting at a Predominantly
White Liberal Arts College" (2012). Dissertations. 65. Their experiences included stereotyping, microaggressions, racist
remarks, and racist vandalization to property. Dr. McCorkle’s research highlights the very present reality of racism
on WMU’s campus. More research is needed to further delineate contributing factors that influence the poor
retention rates of Black students at WMU. At present, we are aware that there are significant disparities in retention
rates for Black students at WMU as compared to other racial groups. By their second
year, Black students represent the lowest rate of retention at 70.3% as compared to students identifying as
Multiracial (70.4%), Latinx (75.1%), white (80.6%), Asian (83.3%), and American Indian (100%). The 6-year
graduation rate for Black students at WMU is also ranked lower than any other racial comparison group with 44.2%
as compared to students identifying as American Indian (46.3%), Multiracial (49.8%), Latinx (50.9%), Asian
(58.3%), and white (58.7%). While we may not know the multitude of factors affecting individual students at WMU,
it is disturbing that Black students are not remaining at WMU to completion of their degrees. This conveys that
something is happening to students at our university based on race, and Black students are having markedly different
experiences than their non-Black peers. Based upon the report provided by the Lewis Walker Institute, we suspect
that Black students at WMU experience greater degrees of unfair treatment based on their race, and these
experiences are minimized or ignored because many students and potentially faculty and administration believe
racial discrimination against Blacks has been largely eliminated.

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