As an initial step in the FORWARD effort, in July 2020, the School announced a set of actions the School will take to move us towards our FORWARD goals. Many members of the School community provided feedback and support in the development of FORWARD, articulation of our goals, and the School’s initial commitments. The Black and Latinx Student Caucus have been, and continue to be, strong advocates for change and thoughtful partners critical to this process.
These are the first in what will be multiple, ongoing commitments in four areas:
OUR ENVIRONMENT & CULTURE
• Support a culture of antiracism across the School through implementation of a comprehensive, mandatory anti-racism, anti-bias and inclusion training this academic year for all faculty, staff and administrators, as well as additional SSGA training for all students.
• Develop equity guidelines to which all curriculum must adhere and, through FORWARD, develop a thoughtful process for reviewing curricular adherence to the guidelines, as well as a ways to apply these guidelines to all aspects of our School’s functioning.
• Ensure that all members of our community are aware of and can readily access the Bias Response and Support System.
• Provide additional financial resources and staffing to immediately support the expansion of the important work of the Office of Diversity, Culture and Inclusion, while planning is underway for longer-term investments in the office.
• Work with Columbia University Irving Medical Center towards increasing training for medical center security, who staff all medical center buildings, including ARB.
• Support the recruitment of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Middle Eastern, North African and first-generation students, particularly those from the local community, by allocating significant additional scholarship funding to further defray unmet needs of these students this forthcoming academic year. Our development team will increase efforts to significantly grow scholarship aid for the future, with the aim of creating a substantial endowed fund to support scholarships for these students.
• Provide additional funding support for student mentoring and training for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other marginalized students and first-generation students by providing additional resources this fall to further the work of MOSAIC and RISE. FORWARD will be tasked with recommending a vision and format for school-wide mentoring.
• Launch of the FORWARD Fellows program, which will provide paid training opportunities for students to work on racial justice and health equity research and action. These fellows will work on different projects including FORWARD itself, curriculum review, and research support, in-line with student interests and school needs.
FACULTY & RESEARCH SUPPORT
• Enhance support for research on the impacts of structural racism on health and health inequity, with a focus on strengthening funding opportunities in this area for Black faculty and other marginalized groups, and increasing training opportunities for students in these areas. This fall, the School will provide pilot funding to support projects that will generate innovative research in these areas. FORWARD will be tasked with developing a proposal for further supporting and amplifying the School’s work on these topics, which will be supported by focused fundraising efforts.
• To set us on a path for achieving at least a 10% increase in the number of Black faculty by 2023-2024, beginning this fall, we will: build upon the pre-existing Provost Diversity awards, which are partially funded by the Mailman School, and enhance the investment in recruitment and retention of Black post-docs and faculty this academic year through recently secured resources. We will work to ensure long-term sustainability by launching a campaign to raise endowed funds for this program.
PARTNERING WITH OUR NEIGHBORS
• Build and expand authentic partnerships with our Washington Heights and Harlem neighbors by engaging FORWARD to assess our current work in the local community, engage with community members to more fully understand needs and desired partnership, and make recommendations for where the School should invest to maximize its impact on the local community.
• Support the success of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Middle Eastern, North African-owned, local businesses by making these businesses approved vendors of Columbia and encouraging students, faculty and staff to utilize these businesses.