I have witnessed both the surface-level racial equity “work” that Meredith attempts to show through multiple trainings, emails and token minority appearances, and I have also witnessed the continual promotion and hiring of white faculty members.
Anyone who understands the basics of racial equity and allyship can explain that representation matters. It doesn’t only matter because students should see themselves reflected in the faculty (and that is extremely important), but it matters because as long as we have departments that are almost entirely white, our university will have huge gaps in knowledge, understanding and experiences. We all lose when diversity and inclusion are merely talking points that don’t get put into action.
If Meredith College truly cared about racial equity, they would not be solely interviewing three white candidates for a full-time, tenure track position next week (two white men and one white woman) in the English Department. Given the current unemployment rate, we can assume that hundreds of professionals applied for this position, but Meredith is only bringing in three white candidates. Meredith will respond to this as if this decision is “neutral,” but there is no neutral act when it comes to equity, inclusion and hiring practices. Neutrality does not lead to justice.
The English Department (which has one BIPOC faculty member) is part of the School of Arts & Humanities. Within this school, the Departments of Political Science and History have only white full-time faculty. BIPOC students will most likely take all of their general education classes in these areas and never see another face that looks like theirs. Within this context, every new hire to the school of Arts & Humanity should be treated as a pivotal step in beginning to bring equity and representation to Meredith.
Another example of the lack of representation and justice can be found when we look at the list of distinguished lecturers. In the past 15 years, one out of the 15 faculty members given this honor was a person of color. Not a single woman of color and not a single Black faculty member have been given this distinction in the last 15 years.
If you believed your Meredith inbox or the images on the Meredith website, you might think this is a campus that celebrates diversity, but if you dig just below the surface, you see white supremacy and a lack of inclusion perpetuated again and again. From new hires to awards and recognition, Meredith is ignoring BIPOC candidates
I encourage students, faculty, and staff to pay attention to new hires. Put pressure on departments, schools and administration to hire BIPOC full-time, tenure-track faculty members because if we do not put BIPOC people in leadership roles, we will never achieve racial equity.
Note from the editors: The Meredith Herald has received a correction that the new position in the English Department is not tenure-track but is a contingent position, renewable from year to year, and that one of the final candidates is Latinx.
By an anonymous faculty member