First published in Around the O on October 16, 2020.
UO President Michael H. Schill sent the following message to the campus community Oct. 16:
Dear University of Oregon community,
The University of Oregon is deeply committed to creating a culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to fostering a campus environment that is welcoming to all. I am writing to let you know, unequivocally, that the recent executive order that seeks to ban federal contractors from discussing certain concepts during diversity training will not deter us from this important work.
The Office of General Counsel and the Division of Equity and Inclusion are assessing the potential impact of the executive order on the university as well as exploring a variety of actions in response. In the meantime, the UO will continue to exercise our rights under the First Amendment and the protections of academic freedom to offer relevant education about equity and inclusion in the classroom, trainings, workshops, and other activities.
Over the past five years, we have, together, made real progress in combating systemic racism at the UO. For instance, we are working closely with the University Senate to review our curriculum around issues of equity and inclusion and have established the IDEAL framework, implemented Diversity Action Plans in each unit, responded to many of the changes demanded by the Black Student Task Force, and we continue to identify areas of opportunity to recognize and reconcile our diverse history. More recently, I appointed Nicole Commissiong to serve as our chief civil rights officer and Title IX Coordinator and her office will play an important role in this work as well. Just last week, Provost Patrick Phillips announced a series of initiatives to combat racism and enhance inclusion on campus, including a faculty hiring initiative connected to the creation of a new research and policy center focused on racial disparities and resilience.
Despite all of that, we have much more work to do. To paraphrase Patrick, the UO must be a leader in the effort to combat racism and promote inclusion, not an observer. That work will continue even in the face of challenges like the recent executive order.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law