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LUC The Hague: Words from the Dean

5 June 2020

Last week, we were all shocked by the murder of George Floyd, a murder which has given us a reason to repeat even louder that Black Lives Matter. His death has served as a painful reminder to all of us that racism is not an exclusively American problem, but rather a daily reality for people of color around the world - including members of our own community.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my apologies to the community for not having yet managed to respond to these events and the subsequent debates in a satisfactory manner. In these situations I am torn between the community’s wish for fast (re)actions and the danger of token institutional social media posts that may do more damage. In previous communications, I have emphasized the importance of thoughtful action, and although I stand by that position, I regret that thinking took too long in these hectic times of rounding off an unusually challenging block and preparing for more challenges after summer.

Moving forward, it is the responsibility of LUC to address racism within its own community. Let me be very clear on that: LUC unequivocally condemns racism and acknowledges that racism is also present in our own community. Although LUC is sometimes described as a bubble, its human population precludes a clean escape from human flaws such as prejudice, implicit bias, and wariness or rejection of what we perceive as different. But we can unlearn the human tendencies of categorizing and othering people: recognizing and critically questioning these tendencies in ways that motivate and inspire are key to the positive functioning of heterogeneous communities, and the wellbeing of its members. While LUC has made steps in developing an action plan, most of this has been ‘behind the scenes’, and we hear calls from students for more concrete and visible action towards anti-racism. This was also a clear message from the chairs of the LUC Race & Ethnicity committee with whom the College Board met earlier today to discuss ways forward.

To make visible what has been happening behind the scenes, the list below outlines what we have been working on and will continue to develop. The details about these plans will be communicated as they become more crystalized, via regular newsletter updates.

Action Points

  • The mandatory first-year program that we have been developing in the past year (working title ‘global competencies’) will include a substantial component on the recognition of racism and inclusive communication skills;
  • There is currently a staff workgroup working on the theme of decolonizing the curriculum, that we would like to link to students in the next academic year to continue their work together;
  • Two new courses are being developed for next year on issues of race, including one about Black British literature, and a global citizenship course on decolonization;
  • We will have a senior academic staff member with the portfolio of diversity and inclusion from next academic year onwards;
  • After summer, we will organize a series of workshops for staff on racism and inclusive communication, and we will do the same for the new RA team
  • We plan to form a staff-student taskforce after summer, in close collaboration with LUC’s Race & Ethnicity committee to systematically discuss these issues across the academic year.
  • We recognize the need for clearer channels of communication, and more clarity on where to go when issues of racism arise in the community. We will make sure to have that in place in the new academic year.

Town Hall Meeting

To aid us in our ongoing efforts, we invite the entire student and staff community to a ‘town hall style’ online meeting on Wednesday June 10 at 17.00h via this link. We hope to engage with the community about where to go from here, and how we can balance thoughtful action with the community’s need to see results.

Our community is not perfect, and sometimes we struggle to find the right course of action, but we try our best. And our best is certainly more easily achieved in collectivity and unity than in division and conflict. As Angela Davis wrote: “It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.” Let us use our collectivity for improving our community and investing in a better future for all.

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