Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
What is Inclusive Excellence?
Making diversity, equity and inclusion central to how the college functions through intentional programs, policies and practices. When these intentional actions happen continuously, then we make inclusion excellent.
Terms & Definitions
Let’s start from the beginning…
Accountability — an intentional arrangement that determines whether and how individuals or groups are responsible and answerable for their actions to other individuals and groups.
Affinity Group/Employee Resource — is a small voluntary group of faculty, students, and staff linked by a common purpose, ideology, or interest. Affinity Groups play a vital role in ensuring an inclusive environment where all are valued, included, and empowered to be visible and succeed, and which serve to support recruitment, retention, education, advocacy, and community building. For example, see: Affinity Groups at It’s Your Yale
Agency — the ability to make independent decisions and act in one’s own best interests.
Antiracism/ist — in contrast to nonracism, is the opposite of racism and describes the intentional actions of dismantling racism and bringing the system to an end. Antiracism describes the work and antiracist describes the person or people committed to the tasks.
Belonging — SUNY Plattsburgh is committed to ensuring that each individual is known and accepted for who they are. It is a part of the founding values of who we are as an institution.
Bias — any conduct motivated by prejudice (verbal, written, nonverbal) that is threatening, harassing, intimidating, discriminatory, hostile, unwelcoming, exclusionary, demeaning, degrading or derogatory based on a person’s real or perceived identity or group affiliation in a protected class recognized by law including, but not limited to, race/ethnicity, age, disability status, gender, gender identity/expression, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran status or religion.
Bias (unconscious or implicit) — refers to biases that we carry without awareness and which impact our day to day interactions. To learn more about implicit bias and to take an implicit association test online, visit Project Implicit.
Classism — a system of power and privilege tied to ascribed or achieved economic wealth and social networks. It is a mechanism by which groups of people in similar social networks are considered a unit according to their economic, occupational, or social status.
Climate — the multidimensional constructs subject to and shaped by polices, practices and behaviors of those within and external to the institution, representing the attitudes, perception and behaviors and expectations regarding issues of diversity, inclusion and equity, and which include history and legacy of inclusion or exclusion, compositional or structural diversity, psychological dimensions, behavioral dimensions, and diversity leadership. (Hurtado et al., 1998)
Campus Climate — the current attitudes, behaviors and standards of faculty, staff, administrators and students concerning the level of respect for individual needs, abilities and potential.
Diversity — refers to the range of human experiences such as age, class, ethnicity, race, gender, nationality, disability, religion, sexual orientation, personality, communication style, beliefs/values, work style, and veteran status. Other dimensions of diversity include cross functions and divisions of organizations, hierarchical levels of organizations, variety of operating environments organizations works/competes, advances in products, and shifting customer demographics and community expectations.
Ethnicity — one’s ethnic quality or affiliation. It is voluntary, self-defined, nonhierarchal, fluid and multiple, and based on cultural difference, not physical ones.
Equity — the creation of opportunities for historically underrepresented populations to have equal access to and participate in educational, occupational and personal development programs that are compatible of closing the achievements gaps in student success and completion and employee success.
Equity literacy — a complex understanding of bias and inequity that enables one to make sense of diversity-related dynamics in sophisticated ways. This understanding helps them to effectively respond and do good instead of harm that can come from only enthusiasm and good intentions.
Inclusive excellence — the pursuit and realization of a set of balanced diversity-related objectives that reposition diversity and inclusion as fundamental to institutional excellence. It includes: Intentional institutional practices that focus on the holistic development of students (intellectual, social, and spiritual) by purposefully developing and utilizing all the organization’s resources to enhance student learning, addressing the cultural differences students bring and how these clash with organizational status quos, and creating a welcoming community that engages all types of diversity in the service of students and organizational growth.
Intersectionality — First coined by academic and lawyer Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989, the concept of intersectionality is an attempt to understand models of discrimination and privilege through studying social and political factors that influence individuals in combination rather than individually. It is the interconnecting nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
Positionality — the social and political context that creates your identity in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability status. Describes how your identity influences, and potentially biases, your understanding of and outlook on the world. Also refers to how differences in social position and power shape identities and access in society.
Race — A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance, ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation or history, ethnic classification, and/or the social, economic, and political needs of a society at a given period of time.
Sex — separate from gender, this term refers to the cluster of biological, chromosomal and anatomical features associated with maleness and femaleness in the human body.
Social institution — a complex group of interdependent systems/networks that functions together to perform a social role and which through norms and values, shapes the behavior of the groups or people within it and reproduces itself over time (e.g., legal, education, financial/economic, religious).
Social systems — various groups of interdependent systems and networks of actors that make up social institutions (e.g., police, courts, banks, legislators/law makers, colleges/universities, K-12 schools).
Stereotype — blanket beliefs, unconscious associations and expectations about members of certain groups that present an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude or uncritical judgment. Stereotypes go beyond necessary and useful categorizations and generalizations in that they are typically negative, are based on little information and are highly generalized.
Gender & Sexuality
Advocate — 1. noun: a person who actively works to end intolerance, educate others, and support social equity for a marginalized group. 2. verb to actively support/plea in favor of a particular cause, the action of working to end intolerance, educate others, etc.
Agender (adj.) — a person with no (or very little) connection to the traditional system of gender, no personal alignment with the concepts of either man or woman, and/or someone who sees themselves as existing without gender. Sometimes called gender neutrois, gender neutral, or genderless.
Ally /“al-lie”/ (noun) — a (typically straight and/or cisgender) person who supports and respects members of the LGBTQ community. We consider people to be active allies who take action on in support and respect. “Coming out” as an ally is when you reveal (or take an action that reveals) your support of the LGBTQ community. Being an active supporter can, at times, be stigmatizing, though it is not usually recognized, many allies go through a “coming out process” of their own.
Androgyny/ous /“an-jrah-jun-ee”; “an-jrah-jun-uss”/ (adj.) — 1. a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity; 2. occasionally used in place of “intersex” to describe a person with both female and male anatomy.
Androsexual/androphilic (adj.) — being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to some men, males, and/or masculinity.
Aromantic (adj.) — experiencing little or no romantic attraction to others and/or has a lack of interest in romantic relationships/behavior. Aromanticism exists on a continuum from people who experience no romantic attraction or have any desire for romantic activities, to those who experience low levels, or romantic attraction only under specific conditions, and many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity labels (see demiromantic). Sometimes abbreviated to “aro” (pronounced like “arrow”).
Asexual — a person who is not sexually attracted to any gender. This does not mean that they don’t have sexual feelings, but those feelings are not connected to another person. Someone identifying as asexual will still engage in sexual acts, but those acts will not include anyone else.
Bigender (adj.) — a person who fluctuates between traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with both genders (and sometimes a third gender).
Bicurious (adj.) — a curiosity about having attraction to people of the same gender/sex (similar to questioning).
Biological sex (noun) — a medical term used to refer to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often referred to as simply “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned at birth.” Often seen as a binary but as there are many combinations of chromosomes, hormones, and primary/secondary sex characteristics, it’s more accurate to view this as a spectrum (which is more inclusive of intersex people as well as trans*-identified people).* – Is commonly conflated with gender.
Biphobia (noun) — a range of negative attitudes (e.g., fear, anger, intolerance, invisibility, resentment, erasure, or discomfort) that one may have or express towards bisexual individuals. Biphobia can come from and be seen within the LGBTQ community as well as straight society.
Biphobic (adj.) — a word used to describe an individual who harbors some elements of this range of negative attitudes towards bisexual people.
Bisexual — a person who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to males/men and females/women. Remember, sexual orientation is not about your current sexual activities. So, that means a woman can be in a relationship with a man and still identify as a bisexual because she feels an attraction for both men and women.
Butch (noun & adj.) — a person who identifies themselves as masculine, whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally. ‘Butch’ is sometimes used as a derogatory term for lesbians, but is also be claimed as an affirmative identity label.
Cisgender /“siss-jendur”/(adj.) — a person whose gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth align (e.g., man and assigned male at birth). A simple way to think about it is if a person is not transgender, they are cisgender. The word cisgender can also be shortened to “cis.” “Cis” is a Latin prefix that means “on the same side [as]” or “on this side [of].”
Cissexism (noun) — behavior that grants preferential treatment to cisgender people, reinforces the idea that being cisgender is somehow better or more “right” than being transgender, and/or makes other genders invisible.
Cisnormativity (noun) — the assumption, in individuals or in institutions, that everyone is cisgender, and that cisgender identities are superior to trans* identities or people. Leads to invisibility of non-cisgender identities.
Closeted (adj.) — an individual who is not open to themselves or others about their (queer) sexuality or gender identity. This may be by choice and/or for other reasons such as fear for one’s safety, peer or family rejection or disapproval and/or loss of housing, job, etc. Also known as being “in the closet.” When someone chooses to break this silence they “come out” of the closet. (See coming out)
Coming out — 1. the process by which one accepts and/or comes to identify one’s own sexuality or gender identity (to “come out” to oneself). 2. The process by which one shares one’s sexuality or gender identity with others (to “come out” to friends, etc.). This is a continual, life-long process. Everyday, all the time, one has to evaluate and re-evaluate who they are comfortable coming out to, if it is safe, and what the consequences might be.
Constellation (noun) — a way to describe the arrangement or structure of a polyamorous relationship.
Cross-dresser (noun) — someone who wears clothes of another gender/sex.
Demiromantic (adj.) — little or no capacity to experience romantic attraction until a strong sexual or emotional connection is formed with another individual, often within a sexual relationship.
Demisexual (adj.) — little or no capacity to experience sexual attraction until a strong romantic or emotional connection is formed with another individual, often within a romantic relationship.
FtM/F2M; MtF/M2F (abbreviation) — female-to-male transgender or transsexual person; male-to-female transgender or transsexual person.
Gay — usually ascribed to men who have sexual desire or attraction to men. As we all know, there are several definitions to the word gay, and not all of them are about sexual orientation. However, some women who are attracted to women refer to themselves as gay.
Gender binary (noun) — the idea that there are only two genders and that every person is one of those two.
Gender-queer — a gender identity label often used by people who do not identify with the binary of man/woman; or as an umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary identities (e.g., agender, bigender, genderfluid).
Gender non-conforming (adj.) — 1. a gender expression descriptor that indicates a non-traditional gender presentation (masculine woman or feminine man) 2. a gender identity label that indicates a person who identifies outside of the gender binary. Often abbreviated as “GNC.”
Homosexual — the social identity of a person who has sexual attraction to and/or relations with other persons of the same sex.
Homophobia — hatred and discrimination directed at homosexuals based on societal images and unwarranted, exaggerated fears based on systemic stereotypes about homosexuality.
Intersex — individuals that possess chromosomal, anatomical, and hormonal exceptions that lie outside of the dimorphic idea of male (XY chromosome, testes, penis, facial hair) and female (XX chromosome, ovaries, vagina, breasts)
Intersexuality — a set of medical conditions that feature congenital anomaly of the reproductive and sexual system. That is, intersex people are born with “sex chromosomes,” external genitalia, or internal reproductive systems that are not considered “standard” for either male or female.
Lesbian — when women have sexual desire or attraction to women.
LGBTQIA+ — sexual orientation acronym for persons that hold these identities: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual. The + serves to recognize that it is not a continuum but an identification of some of the many possibilities that exist.
Non-binary gender — the idea that there are more than two genders and that every person does not fit one of the biomorphic masculine or feminine gender. A gender expression descriptor that indicates a non-traditional gender presentation (masculine woman or feminine man), and bears a gender identity label that indicates a person who identifies outside of the gender binary.
Queer — is a political statement, a theory and an identity. Someone who identifies as queer is a person who redefines or plays with gender, or who refuses society’s definitions or expectations assigned to gender altogether. It is often a label that people choose who bend or break their socially assigned gender roles. Queer identity is not a sexual orientation, but it is an identity that allows people to move outside of the boxes for female or male. In the past, queer has been a negative word for people who do not identify as a heterosexual, and some people find it offensive.
Questioning — allows people to say that they are not sure what their sexual orientation is, or if it is only one way. Someone’s sexual attraction might change several times over their lives. If they don’t want to make an absolute statement about their sexual attraction/orientation, then they will identify as questioning.
Sexism — a reflection of attitudes of hostility towards women. These are based on common societal assumptions which are played off into attitudes and translated into actions and behaviors.
Sexism (Hostile) — open prejudice, discrimination and hostility against women
Sexism (Benevolent) — covert or hidden hostility which comes off as protective attitudes or romantic love objectification. Can be seen as positive but sharing the underlying assumptions of Hostile sexism. Refer to the Understanding Prejudice Ambivalent Sexism Inventory
Sexual Orientation — describes someone’s continual (not just one time) attraction — it can be a physical, sexual, and/or emotional attraction — to a group of people. The important thing to remember about someone’s sexual orientation is that the definition doesn’t mention any sexual acts. For example, if a guy receives oral sex from another guy BUT he does not have a continual attraction to men, then that one sexual act does NOT define his sexual orientation. However, his behavior does mean that he has had sex with another man (your actions don’t disappear just because you don’t identify as a different sexual orientation.)
Transgender — a person who has a gender at odds with their physical sex assigned at birth, and a social gender at adds with his or her genitals. Transgender is unique in this “alphabet soup” of sexuality because it doesn’t really refer to a sexual orientation. However, in our society, we tend to put together all “groups” of people that are “different.” So, people who identify as transgender are considered part of the LGBTQQIA community. Transgender people are those whose psychological self (“gender identity”) differs from the social expectations for the physical sex they were born with. Transgender people may have any sexual orientation
Oppression, Prejudice & Discrimination
Ableism — prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in physical, mental and/or emotional ability.
Cultural Humility — involves an ongoing process of self-exploration and self-critique combined with a willingness to learn from others. It means entering a relationship with another person with the intention of honoring their beliefs, customs, and values. It means acknowledging differences and accepting that person for who they are.
Discrimination — the behavioral manifestation of prejudice involving the limitation of opportunities and options based on particular criterion (i.e., race, sex, age, class, disability, national origin etc.).
Dominance — the systemic or institutional attitudes and behaviors of prejudice, bias, superiority, and self-righteousness of members of one group in relation to others considered outside that group. Group membership can be based on race, ethnicity, national status, mental health status, or occupation.
Ethnocentrism — the belief that one group/nation/cultural values are right, is used to judge/evaluate others that are different, and must be protected and defended. The negative aspects involve blatant assertion of personal, national, and cultural superiority. “My/our way is the right way, I/we are the leaders and the best”.
Hate Crime — any criminal offenses (criminal homicide; including murder and non-negligent manslaughter, and manslaughter by negligence, sexual assault; including rape, fondling, incest and statutory rape, robbery; aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson, and any incidents of larceny-theft, simple assault, intimidation, or destruction/damage/vandalism of property that were motivated by bias.
Macroaggressions — large-scale, overt aggression, (e.g., physical, racially motivated violence), toward those of a different race, culture, gender, etc.; contrasted with microaggression.
Minoritized (verb) — used in place of minority (noun) to highlight the social oppression that minoritizes an individual. People who are minoritized endure mistreatment, and face prejudices that are enforced upon them because of situations outside of their control.
Microaggressions — the subtle, stunning and often automatic and non–verbal exchanges which are put-downs insults, dismissals, and casual degradations experienced by marginalized individuals that are meant to diminish some aspect of one’s identity.
Oppression — the systematic enclosing structure of forces and barriers (unquestioned norms, habits, symbols, consequences of following set rules) which results in the immobilization and reduction of a group or categories of people. May be economic, political, social, psychological, or professional. Should not be stretched to meet the scope of all human experience of limitation or suffering.
Prejudice — a negative or positive attitude toward a person, group or thing, based on pre-judgment and usually having no merit. Often using a thimbleful of experience to inform an ocean of facts.
Privilege/Internalized entitlement — unearned entitlements, things that all people should have such as feeling safe in public spaces, free speech, the ability to work in a place where we feel we can do our best work, and being valued for what we can contribute
Privilege (White) — the unearned advantages and the concrete benefits of access to resources and social rewards and the ability that it brings to shape the norms and values of society that whites receive, unconsciously or consciously, by virtue of their skin color.
Racial microaggressions — brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.
Racism — a system of advantage and disadvantage based on social, historical, and cultural constructions of race and ethnicity where power is misused to benefit, or disadvantage. Occurs at the individual, internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and/or cultural levels; may be overt or covert, intentional or unintentional.
Racism (Cultural) — the individual and institutional expression of the superiority of one race’s cultural heritage and values over another.
Racism (Internalized) — the personal conscious or subconscious acceptance of the dominant society’s views, stereotypes and biases of one’s ethnic or racial group. It gives rise to patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving that result in discriminating, minimizing, criticizing, finding fault, invalidating, and hating oneself and others in ones group, while simultaneously valuing the dominant culture.
Racism (Interpersonal) — actions that perpetuate inequalities on the basis of race during personal or group interaction. Such behaviors may be intentional or unintentional; unintentional acts may be racist in their consequence.
Racism (Institutional) — laws, customs, traditions, policies, and practices that systematically result in inequalities in a society. It also involves the use of power to oppress those that resist the system’s values. This is the institutionalization of personal racism.
Racism/Oppression (Internalized ) — the internalization of conscious or unconscious attitudes regarding inferiority or differences by the victims of systematic oppression.
Retaliation — punitive sanctions enacted for someone asserting their rights to resist oppression (sexism, homophobia, racism, classism, xenophobia, hostile work practices).
Whiteness — the location of structural advantage, of race privilege, a ‘standpoint,’ a place from which white people look at themselves, at others, and at society.
White fragility — a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.
White Solidarity — the unspoken agreement among whites to protect white advantage and not cause another white person to feel racial discomfort by confronting them when they say or do something racially problematic.
World view — a framework or set of fundamental beliefs through which we view the world and our calling and future in it. It is the integrative and interpretative framework by which order and disorder are judged, the standard by which reality is managed and pursued.
Xenophobia — the fear or hatred of foreigners.
Why Diversity Matters
At SUNY Plattsburgh, we know that diversity is more than race, sex, gender, and sexual orientation. It is the full range of human experiences.
Diversity includes age, class, ethnicity, race, gender identity, gender expression, romantic orientation, nationality, (dis)ability, religion, sexual orientation, language, personality, communication style, work style, veteran status and more.
What is Inclusion?
Diversity is only a start. Inclusion is what occurs when students feel a strong sense of belonging. We are committed to offering a range of programs, policies, and practices that engage with the unique range of human experience you bring to SUNY Plattsburgh.
At SUNY Plattsburgh, it is our mission to promote equity for all members of the campus community by leading efforts and creating partnerships that cultivate an inclusive academy-institution
SUNY Plattsburgh will promote equity through:
- Learning experiences that include programs, policies and initiatives with alumni, faculty, staff, students and the external community
- Increasing retention and recruitment of diverse faculty and staff.
- Creating and effectively managing data that will help to inform learning experiences and retention and recruitment.
We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.
Max de Pree
What We Believe
Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Core Values
SUNY Plattsburgh recognizes that building and fostering community is vital in enhancing diversity and inclusion on and off-campus.
We embrace academic achievement which helps our students build awareness of the diverse world around them. As a liberal arts institution, we encourage diverse learning experiences while offering different perspectives in and outside of the classroom to contribute to student, staff, and faculty development.
Respect & Integrity
Respect compels us to exercise integrity and understanding despite a broad range of individual experiences, perspectives, and actions. We vow to exercise each, despite our differences.
The college makes a commitment to expand opportunities to broaden the diversity of faculty, staff, students, and visitors to our campus. We commit to the importance of offering diverse educational opportunities that recognize multiple backgrounds, learning styles, and work to offer learning that bridges gaps of misunderstanding.
We recognize that our campus is composed of students, faculty, and staff from a wide range of diverse and unique backgrounds. We not only embrace our community members but pledge to provide a campus environment that celebrates the intersection of identities and experiences.
SUNY Plattsburgh recognizes that each new year brings new energy, ideas, and members to our campus community. We vow to stay open to new ideas and opportunities to continue to expand and enrich our services and educational opportunities.
Accountability & Responsibility
SUNY Plattsburgh holds an expectation that we have a responsibility as individuals and as an institution to uphold campus values and exercise power with good intent. When a member of the campus community or the institution fails to do so, we make a commitment to hold one another accountable with a focus on restoration and healing.
The college understands that a major component of student and employee success is positive and transformative leadership. We commit to making an effort to expand upon opportunities for mentorship, positive role-modeling, and sustainable leadership which fosters trust, growth, and inspiration.
Student Centered (Sustainability)
SUNY Plattsburgh strives to put its students first when making decisions that will leave a lasting impact on their education and experiences. The college strives to lay a strong foundation that will continue to adapt and support future students’ ever-changing needs.
My Dearest SUNY Plattsburgh,
It has been over a month since the murder of George Floyd and though I have not shared directly with you what is on my heart, the work that has happened and that will be happening, it is time to share our plans to make SUNY Plattsburgh a safe campus that protects our Black students, faculty and staff — as well as other marginalized community members.
I appreciated the emails, texts and calls from community members that shared their concern and support for me, for my family and for our work at Plattsburgh. Know that the terror, sadness, and horror you experienced with George Floyd’s homicide has traumatized many of our students and alumni. They need our support more than ever, and not just in words, but in actions.
To be transparent, as a Black Afro-Caribbean woman, I am exhausted, but I am propelled by my hope for what we can do together. I came to Plattsburgh because I was moved by the student activism that I saw as a result of the SnapChat racist comments, and I came to be a change agent. Despite whatever emotions I feel, I am committed to the work of equity and justice, and to lasting change. I am committed to supporting the student activism I saw in 2018.
The idea that many of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, their families and friends need to convince others that they are human and that they should be seen and that they matter, is in itself dehumanizing. But wishing for a change is not enough. Writing about change is not enough. As your Vice President for Diversity Equity and Inclusion, I have to push for the change that will make SUNY Plattsburgh a more inclusive campus. When we do that our students will feel a sense of belonging and know that our actions match our words. And for me that is non-negotiable.
As I push away my fears and my frustrations with the current state of our Plattsburgh community, the North Country, and the country’s state of race relations, I want to insist that we double down our efforts for systemic reform. We can’t change everything, but we can have an impact at SUNY Plattsburgh, in the communities around the college, and in the communities we live in. But these are words and it is important for me to share the actions we have done and plan to do for the summer, fall and spring.
These are the actions:
- We began by hosting a Solidarity Night on May 29 for us to come together as a community to grieve and acknowledge the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, which were lost in the last months.
- We continue to host caucuses or affinity groups over the summer which are digital “Brave Spaces,” to support and lift up voices from within the SUNY Plattsburgh community that are committed to the racial justice and anti-racism work.
- Register for Be About it Act NOW! (Resources->Anti-Racist Resources->What To Do)
- We will host a webinar on July 30 for the bi-state; New York and Vermont region and Canada called Supporting Black Employees, to provide employers with resources and concrete action steps to support Black Employees.
- We will continue in the fall by hosting community dialogues that bring together all the affinity groups to share stories, disrupt unjust narratives and behaviors, and speak as a community.
- We will host a community-wide racial healing event in the fall to begin healing the hurt that has occurred from racist incidents. We are finalizing the appearance of a nationally renowned anti-racism educator.
- We will also host a community event on Black Solidarity Day, November 2 to help catalyze action.
- With the help of our faculty, we will have a Super Teach-in in the spring to broaden our anti-oppression efforts.
As I create, I am asking you to join me, plan with me, lead with me, and when I reach out for your help, please answer my call in both your words and your actions. I will call on the community; faculty, staff, students, alumni, and external community members.
Thank you for hearing my voice. Know that your voices and experiences matter, and let’s be open as a community to listen to the voices of others who want to share their stories and work to move this mountain of injustice to a place of justice for those in the margins.
In Solidarity and with good wishes always!
Michelle Cromwell, Ph.D.
Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion/ Chief Diversity Officer
We at SUNY Plattsburgh stand with our Chinese students, faculty, staff and other community members of other Asian descent. We see you, you are valued, and your experiences related to COVID-19 matter. We have no tolerance for racial or ethnic discrimination.
The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is committed to working with other members of the college to keep the SUNY Plattsburgh community safe and informed. We encourage community members to stay updated by visiting the campus COVID-19 information page.
As we continue to hear updates on COVID-19 and are impacted on local, state and global levels, there have been heightened levels of uneasiness, uncertainty and a general concern for the well-being of ourselves, friends, and family.
These levels of uneasiness and uncertainty have also caused an increase in broad generalizations, assumptions, and acts of bias as it relates to individuals from China, other Asian countries, and people of Asian descent. We’d like to share an earlier statement from The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) made on February 7:
“While the coronavirus represents a legitimate public health concern, it is not a green light to target Asian Americans and Asian immigrants with racism and hate. We are concerned with the growing xenophobic rhetoric that harkens back to the dehumanizing, anti-Asian trope of the ‘yellow peril,’ that was used during the 19th century. We have consistently stood against efforts to cast our community as ‘perpetual foreigners,’ and sadly, we find ourselves having to do so again. We call on news outlets and social media platforms to do more to curb racist and inaccurate content in addition to removing misinformation on the coronavirus alone.”
Making broad generalizations that people of Asian descent are dangerous or sick, or making assumptions about a person’s nationality based on their physical features perpetuates long-standing histories of xenophobia and racism, whether intentional or not.
Our Asian students, faculty and staff are valued members of the SUNY Plattsburgh community. We are here for you and want to emphasize and highlight the following:
- If you or someone you know has experienced bias or discrimination please report these incidents on the Bias Reporting Form and connect with someone you trust for social support.
- See the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as a campus resource and seek our assistance.
- Recognize that acts of bias can negatively impact your physical and mental health. Know that it is okay to seek medical and mental health care as needed and seek the Student Health and Counseling Center if you are a student and our EAP resource if you are an employee.
If you find that you are maintaining distance from or worried about interacting with people of Asian descent we urge you to strongly consider the following:
- Avoid the inclination to make broad stereotypes about people of Asian descent and explore the root causes of your fears and disdain. Confusion and uncertainty about COVID-19 can lead to increased anxiety and fear. Projection of this fear onto entire groups of people often leads to dangerous behaviors. These types of behaviors harm the physical and mental wellbeing of targeted groups and does nothing to protect or keep others safe.
- Educate and maintain perspective. Communicating the facts that viruses do not target specific racial or ethnic groups and how COVID-19 actually spreads can help stop acts of bias. Continue to educate yourself on the facts of COVID-19 and the accurate and evidence based ways to protect yourself and each other.
- Exercise empathy, compassion and a sense of community. We do not have to neglect and treat community members with disrespect or hostility. Instead we can extend our collegiality and social support by standing with each other in this time of crisis. Understand that people are worried about family or friends, and be mindful of this as we interact with each other.
We continue to advise you to take care of yourself and each other. Treat each other with care and compassion and demonstrate the Cardinal spirit by making our community members all feel safe and that they belong. We are Cardinal Strong!
Land Acknowledgement Statement
As an institution who takes great pride in conscious efforts towards building a more inclusive community, we must take the time to acknowledge that our campus is situated on land that belongs to the Iroquois, Western Abenaki, Mohican and Mohawk peoples.
This land and body of water, now known as Lake Champlain, was inhabited and nurtured by these peoples for thousands of years. We must do the same to nurture and protect this sacred land. This statement is only a mere fraction of the necessary steps it will take to fight against systemic indigenous erasure.
SUNY Plattsburgh is a community of active learners and we pledge today that we will continue to learn more about the history of the land our community is situated on and of the people who it was stolen from.