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Campus Update: Equity & Inclusion

July 17, 2020

Dear UNC Students:

The past four months have been challenging in many ways –– challenging in our communities, society, and work. However, I have seen many good things taking shape. To be honest with you, I didn’t think I would see these things happen, and yet, we must continue to push forward in constructive ways.

I remain concerned about the social issues, namely racism and violence, as well as health care disparities revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, we are once again reminded of the systemic and institutional racism in our world, and specifically the United States. It’s also important to acknowledge our very own students who have experienced racism and inequities. Additionally, we have been reminded that these inequities extend beyond race to include other intersecting identities such as gender identity, socio-economic class, and sexual orientation, among others. 

UNC community members are impacted in ways we may not always understand, and I want to acknowledge how a lack of understanding, negatively impacts our campus community. Furthermore, the pandemic ignites a “pile on” effect on our black and brown students, faculty, and staff in countless ways; yet, we cannot turn away. I realize not everyone may agree on the various forms of expression or methods of engaging to show support; however, we need to be understanding, empathetic, and supportive. There are many ways we can be responsive to the broader issues of systemic racism and our overall approach to equity and inclusion.

Over the past few weeks, the following actions have taken place:

  1. Coordinated with City of Greeley leadership, to host a series of city-wide forums on race and other community issues to enhance our community relations and improve the climate within our city.
  2. Met with UNCPD chief, Dennis Pumphrey, and made plans to coordinate a meeting with students to enhance community and illuminate issues on our campus that need to be addressed. We also agreed to have implicit bias training for the UNC police department in September.
  3. Currently developing campus-wide equity and inclusion professional development for faculty, staff, and administrators. Sessions will begin in early September.
  4. Collaborating with leadership in Performing and Visual Arts, School of Nursing, and the Department of Athletics to create environments that are welcoming and inclusive while establishing action steps for their respective area.
  5. Established commitment from Cabinet to engage in equity and inclusion self-work through facilitated dialogue on racialized identity, privilege, and cultural humility.

With the support of President Feinstein and my colleagues on Cabinet, I assure you—more action is forthcoming.

Lastly, I provide you with a collection of resources developed by national experts and practitioners who represent a variety of disciplines and organizations. Additionally, resources within our UNC Libraries also exist and if you have specific questions or inquires for resources, please email libraries@unco.edu. We learn best when we step outside of what we know, and we must look away from insularity.

My single and most pointed advice to you is to engage in self-work. We cannot achieve university-level change without addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion at an individual level. A word of caution: just because you read about anti-racism does not make you antiracist. Self-work is not easy and yet, so critical. I recall beginning the self-work journey in 1995 during my second year of Counseling course work. I was pushed to vulnerability and discomfort, and I recall a moment of clarity as my professor, Dr. Fischler, said, “Tobias, dig in—dissonance creates change.” I will forever remember that experience, and it remains a powerful reminder in my life today.  

I am pleased with the amount of outreach from faculty and staff wanting to support equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. Regardless of where you are in this journey, let’s commit to being vulnerable, embrace cognitive dissonance, have hard conversations, and engage in self-work so that we uncover our mental biases and blind spots. If we do this, we come together as a community; we start to heal and make UNC better for our students and each other. I plan to communicate with you more and provide ongoing resources, information, and action steps.

I look forward to a collaborative consultation with you.


Tobias Guzman

Dr. Tobias J. Guzmán
Vice President of the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion