This has been a very challenging quarter. From the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, to the recent manifestations of systemic police violence in the US, we’re facing dual crises with especially dire consequences for the lives and well-being of the Black community.
I am in awe of our students and alumni, and their actions to respond to these events, dismantle broken systems, tackle systemic racism, and initiate creative solutions for those who are impacted. The Comm Lead community is driven by collaboration, advocacy, and empathy, values that are more important now than ever.
I believe that this is also a moment for us, as a program, to reflect on how we can better respond to community needs, offer support to our students and alumni, and create opportunities and an educational environment that foster systemic change.
Being a part of a large, public university has many advantages, including the infrastructure to address systemic racism faced by our students, as well as leadership in moments of crisis. I’ve been following the messages from our university president, the Department of Communication chair, and other administrators, in response to these crises. I hope you have been as well.
As co-director, let me make clear, in no uncertain terms, our program’s unqualified solidarity with and support for our Black and brown colleagues and students.
Being part of a large organization such as UW also has its constraints. UW, like all great universities, functions largely as a democracy, through basic principles such as self-governance. This means policy-change is not immediate, nor is it issued by decree from on-high. Instead it is the effect of deliberation, collaboration, and collective advocacy, precisely those values and skills that are central to Communication Leadership. We have a role to play in this moment. And I assure you, we intend to play it, and to involve all of you in the process.
These last two weeks have given us the chance to identify a number of things we can do to build on existing resources and support for students of color.
I am sharing with you a new section of our website that outlines initiatives and support services that are especially vital to the new world we want to create. Some of these are ongoing, others are brand new — inspired by this transformative moment. I invite you all to review and use this page as a resource for you and your fellow students moving forward.
This is the start of a process that we will undertake as a program to ensure that our practice truly reflects our values. That’s where you come in. There’s a form on this page that invites your ideas, feelings, and feedback on curriculum and student experience. I am including it here.
This feedback form will be a vital input as we create and refine specific, transparent, and accountable initiatives in collaboration with our students.
This is a challenging moment, but one that is also ripe with possibility. Change has been a long time coming. This is our collective opportunity to make it happen.