Dear Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy,
Here at the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, we are accustomed to contemplating change in geologic time. As we wind back the clock to study the history of the Earth, we think in terms of centuries, millennia and beyond. But some things should not be slow. Our response to racism is one of them.
I join the nation in deep grief, anger and frustration over the death of George Floyd and the countless others whose lives were lost to racial violence. Moreover, I want to acknowledge the tragic reality of racism faced by our African American friends, classmates and neighbors every day. What we are witnessing this week across the nation is the collective trauma, injustice and heartache of people whose voices and cries have gone unheard for far too long. I along with the entire Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy stand united with peaceful protesters and say “no more.”
In times like these when we are hoping for change and longing for action, we struggle to find the words that represent our feelings and motivate a ground swell of collective, positive change. We all desperately want to be a part of the solution to this enormous problem.
I was struck by something in a statement by Dr. Belinda Higgs Hyppolite, OU’s Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion. She wrote, “My Ninety-Two-year-old grandmother said to me on Sunday night, ‘I am really sad because I marched so my grandchildren would not have to.’”
Join me in taking steps so that we stop measuring time of racial division in decades, generations, and even centuries. Let us make the change now by enacting positive changes today.
Over the last years, Mewbourne College has facilitated diversity initiatives. This important work continues both with programs and important goals:
- In the Mewbourne College, all faculty and staff will be required to take the Unlearning series, which addresses subjects like racism, classism and sexism.
- In Fall 2020, we will resume our Inclusion and Diversity Committee Book Club where small groups of faculty and staff learn together by reading a book about diversity and inclusion. By making this a local issue, we hope to make meaningful change and to become brothers and sisters, regardless of the color of our skin.
- While our College boasts diversity in terms of international students, our domestic diversity is severely lacking. I’ve often wondered how our college can be so beautifully representative of the world, but not of our own state and nation? I am committed to redoubling efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented students, particularly African Americans. We are committed to also identifying tangible issues experienced by underrepresented students, faculty and staff at the College, and will endeavor to solve problems with expediency.
- We have created a webpage with resources to help each of us educate ourselves and proactively address racism and bias.
As I review this letter again, it seems insufficient and feels lacking. This is a moment where words fall short and where echoes of past leaders’ empty lip service still ring loudly. However actions do speak. Mewbourne College has been involved in the hard work of confronting bias in our College and in ourselves, and we will not stop. We are committed to standing with the Black community in peaceful protest to ensure that justice is served and voices are heard.
J. Mike Stice
Dean and Lester A. Day Family Chair
Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy