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Frequently Asked Questions:
Toward an Anti-Racist Drexel

The information on this page, provided by the Office of Equality and Diversity and the Office of the Provost, is intended to address frequently asked questions about the Anti-Racism Task Force, its final report, and Drexel University’s commitments to becoming an anti-racist institution. If you do not see your question answered on this page or on the Toward an Anti-Racist Drexel webpage, please email it to anti-racism@drexel.edu.

Is the ARTF report a statement of official University policy?

No, it is not policy. The report sets forth six overarching goals or commitments that may warrant additional assessment, resources and implementation planning. The commitments were informed by the Anti-Racism Task Force (ARTF) committees’ recommendations, which are included in the report’s appendix. Any new official University policies or revisions of existing policies that may arise out of the implementation of the ARTF commitments will need to be formally reviewed and approved through the University’s new Policy Compliance Process.

Has the Board of Trustees either endorsed or accepted the document as an official statement of the University?

No, the report was made available to the Board, and the Board was briefed on the work as it was happening.

Do any of the University’s commitments in the ARTF report violate the tenets of academic freedom, as expressed by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and by the Academic Freedom Alliance?

Drexel University is fully committed to academic freedom. None of the ARTF commitments target speech or freedom of expression or intellectual pursuits. Many of the University commitments will require further assessment and discussions that will include representation of all major stakeholders. The commitments are stated in the report, but how the commitments will be achieved, in many cases, still needs to be defined.

One of the complaints about the work of anti-racism task forces, in general, is that they create a lot of noise and perhaps positive publicity, but they fall short in coming up with substantive changes. What is the University really committing to with regards to the entirety of the 200+ recommendations of the ARTF sub-committees?

The University committed to reviewing and considering all recommendations from the ARTF. Upon completing that review, the University identified 60+ commitments grouped into two macro themes and six themes, as described on the Toward an Anti-Racist Drexel website.

The University has already made solid progress across many areas, while other commitments still need to be assessed, discussed and refined further. Over the past several months, 43 academic and administrative units have been documenting their goals and progress toward some of the 60+ commitments, resources needed, and metrics that will be monitored for success. In Fall 2022, progress will begin to be tracked and published on the Toward an Anti-Racist Drexel website for accountability and transparency.

It is important to note that this work is also being integrated into the broader work of Strategic Plan implementation wherever appropriate.

The Final Report contains many recommendations that impact the faculty and the curriculum in the areas of faculty recruitment, curriculum design, syllabi preparation, as well as "oversight" of these recommendations. Was the faculty consulted on these relevant areas?

Faculty members were involved in every committee that worked to develop the ARTF recommendations; 12 committee leaders and 23 of the committee team members were faculty. As noted above, it is important to distinguish between ARTF “commitments” and “recommendations.” The recommendations of the 11 ARTF subcommittees were presented in their entirety in the appendix of the report, but the University is committed to pursuing the 60+ items listed as “commitments” in the body of the final report. As we continue to define how the commitments will be achieved, faculty will continue to be very much involved, particularly in areas that impact academics.

In general, when there are commitments related to academics, the Faculty Senate and the Provost’s Office, as well as others where appropriate, are identified as the “owners.” Most of this work has not yet begun centrally. If the appropriate owners believe any of the commitments should be implemented, all proposed changes would need to go through the official policy approval process, which includes Faculty Senate.

Some of the recommendations call for budget increases in administrative areas rather than teaching, such as new hires of "deans of diversity." How does the University justify these expenditures over other areas of pressing need?

The role of the associate and assistant deans of diversity is to support, directly and indirectly, research and teaching through a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) lens. Most of the individuals in these roles are not new hires; they are current faculty receiving stipends to support this work. This role serves as a partner to faculty and professional staff, advising colleagues on how best to align with the ARTF commitments and University Strategic Plan, both of which are critical to the University’s future success as we seek to foster “a culture of equity and belonging” for our students, faculty and professional staff.

How do we make sure that academic freedom is not used as a blanket shield against any and all calls for taking action against systemic racism at the University?

We believe that most people at Drexel are committed to doing the work to create an environment of belonging where everyone can flourish. There may be times when some individuals are resistant to making changes based on academic freedom; however, the University will make every effort to help people understand where and why changes are needed to create an inclusive environment and to support them in making those changes. Some may believe they are already creating an inclusive environment and supporting a sense of belonging in the classroom or workspace, when instead they are missing opportunities to engage various identity groups.

Are some of the hiring target goals lawful under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the federal equal employment opportunity regulations?

It is lawful to have diversity hiring goals. It is not lawful to limit any one position only to applicants from a specific identity group.

Are there research and best practices linked to the University commitments in the ARTF report?

The ARTF report’s appendix includes most of the research and best practices used by the subcommittees to form their recommendations that were referenced in creating the University’s commitments. If you have specific questions, please feel free to send them to anti-racism@drexel.edu.

As we continue to work through recommendations and implementation, University and external experts will be engaged and further research and best practices will be referenced and integrated.

Some are concerned that the University commitments may not be backed by funding and support from the Drexel community . Are there examples of progress made by Drexel’s academic and administrative units to demonstrate action being taken to date?

The integration of the University’s anti-racism commitments into the Strategic Plan shows that we are dedicated to making real progress backed by institutional support and funding. We acknowledge that many of the commitments will require additional resources that may take time to build, but many other meaningful commitments only require intentionality, process improvements, or other actions that don’t require additional funds to implement.

Here are some examples of progress made to date (as of May 2022):

  • Established the Center for Black Culture, with dedicated space in the Rush Building.
  • Established the Ubuntu Center on Racism, Global Movements, and Population Health Equity with support from a major gift by Dana and David Dornsife. 
  • Increased focus and resources on student recruitment efforts and made changes to admissions practices leading to an increase in representation of underrepresented students of color in the first year class (20% in 2021 compared to 12% in 2020).
  • Incorporated more inclusive hiring practices to increase the representation of faculty of color. Over the past two years, 16% of Drexel’s faculty hires have been faculty of color. When the ARTF began its work, the University was at 4% faculty of color.
  • Founded new Drexel Indigenous Students of the Americas student group.
  • Mandated Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Training for faculty, professional staff and senior leadership.
  • Reestablished the Africana Studies Program.
  • Began reimagining public safety through improvements focused on three major areas that will be addressed in a forthcoming communication: transparency, training and community oversight, including the establishment of the Drexel Public Safety Oversight Committee.
  • Developed plans to increase the number of BRIDGE (Building Relationships in Diverse Group Experiences) programs modeled after the LeBow BRIDGE program to support the success of minority and first-generation students.
  • Established a new special Commencement celebration (La Ultimo Noche De Año or LUNA) to recognize the achievements of our graduating Dragons of the Latin American and Spanish Caribbean diasporas.
  • Increased staffing and resources in the Office of Equality and Diversity and the Student Counseling Center.
  • Received two National Science Foundation Advance grants examining faculty salary equity and the policies and practices related to the promotion of women and BIPOC faculty.
  • Received National Institutes of Health FIRST grant ($14.4 million) to hire, retain and support diverse, early career researchers with a focus on health disparities research on aging, chronic disease and/or environmental determinants.
  • Established the Policy Council to help identify and eliminate barriers proposed polices may impose on underserved and marginalized individuals and groups.
  • Currently recruiting for Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
  • Established Drexel Institute for Inclusive and Equitable Teaching, part of the University’s ongoing programming, which promotes equitable teaching practices and anti-racist pedagogies through a highly interactive, cohort-based program. It provides faculty with the opportunity to examine their knowledge base; revise course materials and teaching practices; and nurture the courage to engage in tough conversations in their classrooms.
  • Increased representation of people of color as artists or models in campus artwork and sculptures.