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The pain that we are feeling is the culmination of a long history of unspeakable tragedies of anti-Black racial injustice and racist violence. We cannot remain silent in the face of this heart-breaking reality. The faculty and staff of the JMU Honors College stand in solidarity with Black students, faculty, staff and our neighbors and friends in the Harrisonburg community.

We cannot remain silent in the face of this heart-breaking reality.

As members of an institution of higher education, all of us must embrace the power of diversity and inclusion. This requires dedicating ourselves to exploring our own privilege, whether emanating from race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, or educational opportunity, and to listen to messages that people of color have been sharing for hundreds of years. A prerequisite to meaningful change is exploring a broader understanding of the history of this nation. Learning coupled with action to strive for greater equality will prevent acquiescence to apathy, indifference and silence. We must make the pursuit of justice a lifetime practice.

All of us must embrace the power of diversity and inclusion.

The Honors College is far from perfect in these endeavors, and the tragic circumstances daily highlighted on the news reaffirm our commitment to disrupting bias, racism, and the status quo. The vision of the Honors College is to be recognized as an inclusive space for learning. We want to create the most inclusive and diverse community that we possibly can, and we attest that the anti-racist work of campus partners is an integral part of helping us be the best that we can be. We acknowledge and amplify the work of faculty in African American & Africana Studies, Latin American, Latinx & Caribbean Studies, the Furious Flower Poetry Center and more. These educators have made it their life’s work to support our students from all backgrounds and majors and we owe them a debt that can only be repaid with sustained commitment to core values of equality, equity and opportunity.

The vision of the Honors College is to be recognized as an inclusive space for learning.

I want to reiterate that the faculty and staff in the Honors College are grieving along with many in our nation over the developments these past few weeks. Please know that we value your perspectives at this pivotal moment in our lives. We hope that you will join the ongoing Honors conversation surrounding these topics. There are a number of initiatives forthcoming that will open and make more transparent our typically internal conversations about diversity and inclusion in Honors. In addition to exploring more opportunities for students to count diversity-focused courses towards the Honors minor, faculty within the Honors College are looking to offer more Honors seminars that will provide students with tools to affect social change. Many of these conversations will be happening within the Honors College Diversity Council, an initiative that will focus on creating a space to discuss curricular, co-curricular activities and best practices to support historically underrepresented populations. If you are interested in participating, please email Dr. Fawn-Amber Montoya, Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and External Engagement, at montoyfa@jmu.edu.

Now is the time to join the Honors College Diversity Council, an initiative that will support historically underrepresented populations.

The Honors College will also be hosting two virtual conversations over the next two weeks for students to share their thoughts about the current state of race and racism in the U.S. The first session will be Thursday, June 4 at 11:00 a.m. (EST). The second session will be Wednesday, June 10 at 1:00 p.m. (EST). CLICK HERE to access either call. If a password is required, use JMUDUKES (56838537).

Join us for a virtual conversation! We want to hear from you.

In closing, we invite you to journey with us as we continue to search for ways to be part of the solution on and off campus. We can, and must, be the change that we expect to see in the world today.

Sincerely,

Dean Bradley R. Newcomer and the Honors College Leadership Team