TAG response

To the Anti-Racist Workstream Recommendations

Dear Workstream Leaders,

 

The Tufts Action Group met in April 2021 to review and audit the Anti-Racist Workstream Recommendations.  We are sending you this summary of the findings by the TAG community.

 

  • TAG appreciates the study and deliberation that went into the preparation of these reports, including the leadership of administrators and the participation of staff and faculty, many of whom are members of the Tufts Action Group

  • At the same time, TAG recognizes the efforts by grassroots communities of students, staff, faculty, and administrators in undertaking the work of remedy, and in shifting the frame of discussion from policy interventions from above to community partnerships based on principles of restorative justice.

  • TAG recognizes the meaningful progress represented by the “Tufts as an Anti-Racist Institution” endeavor, including many ways in which the work of the Tufts Action Group, and the TAG Demands, have informed recommendations. In particular, the commitment of $25 million, or more, in investment over 5 years towards reaching the “Tufts as an Anti-Racist Institution” goals must be commended.  Resource allocation is one the five TAG Demands.  We praise the Anti-Racist Institution framework for both recognizing, and beginning to reckon with, the long-term problem of systemic racism and inequity at Tufts University, affecting all aspects of the university’s core mission of excellence in research, teaching, and civic engagement.

 

The Tufts Action Group, in community, reviewed the Final Reports of the “Tufts as an Anti-Racist Institution” Workstreams, and we are sharing our collective input.  We carry out this audit and share this feedback with a view to contributing grassroots insight, and to the restorative justice principle of lifting up voices and perspectives from communities most harmed by the structures of racism at Tufts.

 

  • TAG members ask for transparency about how the $25 million of pledged university funds will be distributed and utilized, as well as the decision-structure for the allocation of these funds.

 

  • TAG members are concerned that there is no clear accountability structure in place for the structural change we need.  An equitable accountability plan must include the representation of student, staff, and faculty from historically harmed communities at the highest levels of oversight.

 

  • TAG is concerned about a tendency in the recommendations to put a great deal of responsibility for future DEI work on members of historically harmed communities. In addition, there is no reckoning with how to equitably compensate staff, faculty, and administrators from marginalized groups who have been asked to contribute significant intellectual and emotional resources to the university’s DEI planning, often in ways that activate both traumatic and post traumatic stress responses.

 

  • All the DEI work that the university is asking of departments, faculty, and staff must be met with adequate funding and resource reallocation.

 

  • TAG notes that the demand to “Create a Mediation Board for reporting incidents of discrimination” -- led by experts trained in restorative justice -- was not addressed in the university’s Anti-Racist Workstream reports.

 

  • TAG is concerned that Accenture, a firm mired in troubling business practices on national and international levels, was hired as the outside consultant for portions of the “Anti-Racist Workstreams” endeavor.  Equitable consultation with community stakeholders in planning the process of DEI workstreams at Tufts could have avoided this harm.

 

  • TAG is concerned about the tendency towards fragmented implementation, for example between schools, and even within schools.  Structural and overt racism operates across all Tufts campuses in interconnected fashion.  The problems we face require coordinated solutions, and structures and offices that function across campuses in seamless ways.

 

  • TAG is concerned about the general lack of actionable steps in the recommendations, and the generally vague and unmeasurable formulations.

 

  • TAG is concerned about an ongoing “logic of small steps” demonstrated in many of the recommendations, when a transparent and ambitious plan to remedy harm, reallocate resources, and change the power structure is in order.

 

  • TAG members are concerned to know how the new Director of Campus Safety will be selected, and how historically harmed, targeted and disenfranchised communities will be included as consultants and decision-makers in the selection.

 

  • TAG members are concerned about the current tendency to address the policing problem at Tufts largely based on the dominant perspectives of established interest groups, instead of prioritizing the perspectives and values of historically harmed, targeted and disenfranchised communities.

 

  • TAG members are concerned to know how commitments to diversifying public art on campus will match with significant change in compositional diversity at all levels of the institution.

 

  • TAG is concerned with the lack of a published DEI data plan for measuring and sharing critical information and metrics that will allow the community to track progress on stopping and remedying harm to minoritized and marginalized groups at Tufts. TAG is also concerned about the insufficiency of the current demographic categories that are being used to track DEI data.  

 

  • TAG is concerned about the general lack of attention in the recommendations to the historical inequities faced by LGBT+ people and people with disabilities. It is a matter of urgency to define measures to stop and remedy harm to intersectionally marginalized members of our community.

 

  • TAG feels the recurring Anti-Racist Report recommendation of “anti-bias training” requires much more discussion and careful thought.  Anti-bias training does not change the power structure. Furthermore, the instruments for measuring the effectiveness of the training sessions and the processes for selecting the instructors must be made transparent.

 

  • TAG wishes to remind university leaders that DEI initiatives and interventions can themselves inflict harm, when these initiatives exclude historically targeted and affected communities from equitable consultation and decision-making.

 

  • TAG sees the need for a holistic curriculum review, beyond the creation of a DEIJ curricular requirement in the School of Arts and Sciences.

 

  • TAG asks for a Staff Senate, which, like the Faculty Senate, will operate across schools to ensure that staff concerns are equitably represented in university governance.

 

  • TAG insists that we cannot change campus culture if people in senior decision-making positions do not represent underrepresented communities in terms of their positionality, and also share the values and commitments of underrepresented communities.  For this reason, TAG insists that these communities should be equitably included in decision-making about who fills leadership and decision-making positions.