USF Takes Steps to Tackle Racism

Jesuits fund effort to increase anti-racism education

By Mary McInerney, USF News Posted Thu, 02/25/2021 - 12:29

A new initiative called “Building Our Capacity to Address Racism” is underway at USF. It includes programs and conversations about race and racism both within and outside of the campus community.

The initiative grew out of calls for USF to face concerns about structural racism, said Mary J. Wardell-Ghirarduzzi, vice provost of diversity engagement and community outreach at USF.

The six-part initiative, funded by a USF Jesuit Foundation grant, is organized and administered by the Center for Humanizing Education and Research (C-HER) at USF.

The six projects are:

One Community, One Book. A book on race/racism/anti-racism will be selected this spring for first-year students to discuss in small seminars in fall 2021. Incoming first-year students will receive copies of the book to read this summer. The San Francisco Public Library will also promote the book, and USF hopes to bring the author to campus in the fall.

Black Student Leadership Fellowship. Ten sophomore student leaders will be selected for a year-long program combining a retreat, scholarly and professional development, mentorship, and summer internships. The goal is to cultivate student leaders who develop relationships with community mentors.

Learning Across Difference: A Course for International Students. This project will help international students to understand race and racism in the U.S., to reflect on these topics in the context of their own cultures, and to enrich campus discussions on race and racism with perspectives from other cultures.

Faculty in Conversation about Racial Pedagogy. USF’s Center for Teaching Excellence will help train faculty to facilitate delicate and sometimes tense discussions about race in every classroom, across all disciplines.

Cultural Centers Dialogues on Race. In six-week sessions, USF students will talk about race and racism with a focus on contemporary issues. Ten sections of the course will meet in fall 2021, serving up to 120 students. Another 10 sections of the course will be offered in spring 2022, serving an additional 120 students.

Reimagining the Department of Public Safety. In the wake of recent murders of Black Americans by police officers, many students at USF have called for the defunding or dismantling of the Department of Public Safety at USF. What does this mean and what would it look like? In this series of monthly forums, students will learn about and discuss how USF might reimagine the role of security on campus. The first forum on Feb. 23 was a discussion of Policing and Race with Chesa Boudin, San Francisco district attorney, Derick Brown, senior director of the McCarthy Center, Rhonda L. Magee, School of Law professor, and Darrick Smith, professor in the School of Education.

USF News will report on "Building Our Capacity to Address Racism” throughout 20212022, covering forums, discussions, and events related to this initiative.