Welcome Back / Announcing THRIVE Program
Message from Wendy Raymond
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:
With our extended winter break coming to a close and students returning to campus, I am pleased and eager to welcome everyone to our second semester of learning, growing, and working toward the best Haverford we can become. It has been wonderful to see students walking familiar campus paths, layering up to connect outdoors, and heading into Founders for COVID testing.
COVID-19 remains a challenge. The national surge we expected after the winter holidays did indeed occur, and many institutions that have already started their semesters have experienced on-campus spread of COVID due to students’ small social gatherings indoors, unmasked and non-distanced. I remain confident that we will be able to keep infection rates low if we maintain our energetic commitment to the safety measures that worked well for us in the fall: masking, distancing, and all the precautions each of us has been taking in our daily lives. Our friends and colleagues in Health Services will continue to be in touch throughout the semester.
Our community went through a lot last semester, aligned and with difference, learning and teaching, through COVID and the student-led strike for racial equity. Many BIPOC and FGLI friends, peers, and colleagues did this on top of harm endured far more intensely, for far longer. I saw so much support and education offered and received, as well as antagonisms aired and fueled. It was exhausting even as it energized. It was difficult and generative. Much was said; much was learned; much was gained and appreciated; some words hurt; some healing and work have begun; much work lies ahead. Haverford is ready to engage in that challenging but necessary work—in antiracism systems and policy change, and in healing—in new ways.
I know the road to wholeness and healing as we make sustainable antiracist change is long and arduous, even as the work is urgent. I also know how committed so many of us are to reaching across fissures and fractures so recently in evidence. I am committed to working through this journey with each of you. Even through a mix of pain and healing, and building upon fragile first steps and missteps, I have already witnessed generous attempts to establish or build trust where trust had been lost or eroded. We cannot afford to take shortcuts, and we cannot delegate this work to others. To enact changes to broaden and sustain racial equity at Haverford, uncomfortable learning and growth is required.
One way through the discomfort and towards an antiracist Haverford is through a new, campus-wide initiative we are calling THRIVE: Truth, Healing, Resiliency, Inclusion, and Equity. Designed to build off progress made last semester, developed under the leadership of Dean Bylander working with students and fellow deans, and made possible through a $250,000 gift from a member of Haverford's Class of 1966, THRIVE will invest long-term in sustainable change that includes workshops and webinars as a means for us to better understand one another, and ourselves. I envision THRIVE, modeled on the W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Program, as a multi-year project that is firm in its commitment to change through constructive engagement. It will adapt responsively as we move forward. Its initial elements include:
Understanding Race and Racism toward Creating an Inclusive Community. We will provide opportunities to examine the nature of systemic racism in America and the impacts of structural racism on the lives of those of us who have been racialized, including BIPOC community members at Haverford and beyond, with programs including:
- Why Color Matters How to Become an Antiracist, with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, February 17, 8pm ET
- Issues of Privilege and Oppression
Race-Based Education for White People. Many white students, staff, and faculty have expressed varying degrees of uncertainty about how to be an ally or collaborator, and about their role and responsibility in racial equity work. We will offer workshops for white people about race and racism that will emphasize the work that white people must do to make real strides for all of us, with topics including:
- White Racial Identity Development and Antiracist Work
- Decentering Whiteness and Building a Multicultural Community
- How White People Can Talk to Other White People About Race
Racial Trauma and Healing. We need to name and acknowledge where race-related conflict comes from. We need to build the resiliency and capacity to work constructively for change we all need. Plans thus far include:
- Workshops around mindfulness, race-based trauma and healing, including dedicated spaces for BIPOC students
- Dr. Loretta Ross will virtually visit Haverford April 6 for a keynote and workshop on how to engage in the work of change that calls people into the work.
Haverford will apply in March to the Association of American Colleges & Universities to become a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center. This work by AAC&U with 28 colleges and universities originated with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s 2016 launch of a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. The work has some connection to truth and reconciliation commissions that have happened in many parts of the world, including in South Africa after the dismantling of apartheid. Rather than rewrite our history as some have suggested, these commissions have the power to “right” our shared history.
“TRHT’s purpose is to improve our ability as communities and as a country to see ourselves in each other, so that we can share a more equitable future for all children to thrive,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation. “This work is essential because we must bridge the divides in our country. Now more than ever, we must all act in big and small ways to help people heal from the effects of racism.”
By the end of this month, our co-interim Chief Diversity Officers Linda Strong-Leek and Raquel Esteves-Joyce will update our community about their ongoing work, and the Board of Managers will let us know the composition of its Antiracism Accountability and Advancement Group. Also this month, I will begin working with the Advisory Committee on the Future CDO Structure about antiracism and DEI leadership design for Haverford.
I am hopeful that the work we are intentionally immersed in, including the THRIVE initiative, will allow us to engage our hearts and minds to take action to build Haverford now, leaving no room for racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, transphobia, or marginalization. The work is urgent. Your leadership matters.
-- Wendy Raymond