The long legacy of institutional and systemic racism in the United States highlighted by current societal unrest and protest has prompted us to look inward and recognize the role institutions play in interrogating this past, including Sweet Briar’s plantation history with enslaved African Americans.
Sweet Briar women are leaders and the mission of our college is to create responsible members of the world community. Our students and alumnae have exemplified these traits through their advocacy and protest recently regarding racial justice. Accordingly, President Meredith Woo established the Presidential Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion, which reports directly to her. The group will assess the condition of racial relations, diversity, equity and inclusion at Sweet Briar in terms of three focus areas: campus culture, academics/curriculum and institutional history. The working group will develop an action plan informed by the College’s mission statement that will communicate a timeline, agenda, prioritized goals and budget to implement campus-wide initiatives to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion.
The plan will be delivered to President Woo in November 2020. Its recommendations will include the opportunity for proposals representative of the student body, faculty and staff. The group will monitor the progress and implementation of these initiatives and recommendations and will develop strategies for communicating its findings to the broader community, along with providing timely information about the development scale of these recommendations as well as relevant campus-wide activities and events. The working group will prioritize its reach to all community members, as such, it will prioritize initiatives, recommendations and proposals that reflect the desires of the Sweet Briar community most broadly.
We recognize that this will be a long process and change will not happen overnight. We are committed to continuous self-reflection. This reflection will not be a passive act but will be a dynamic process that requires consistent deliberation, development and dedication. As the action plan comes together, it will be posted here, as will reports on the College’s progress toward the plan. We are a work in progress, and we encourage you to check back often.
We are one Sweet Briar and want to make those words truer than ever. We wish to build on the good work our students have done such as the Black Student Alliance rededicating the Sweet Briar Plantation Burial Grounds. The Presidential Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion and the SGA Diversity and Inclusion Committee will implement an action plan that will ensure that Sweet Briar is a place where all members of our community feel welcomed and supported and a place where discrimination will not be tolerated.