School’s Commitments to Anti-Racism Now & Going Forward
In June of 2020, the CSSW Council of Deans came together and issued a joint statement condemning anti-Black racism in all its forms and committing not just to making statements, but to taking action. Our words at that time were prompted by countless horrific acts of violence and injustice against Black Americans, all against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic as it ravaged communities of color. We need to make good on our promise to enact change for the better at CSSW.
We must demonstrate the willingness to re-evaluate and re-imagine our policies and practices to make them anti-racist in every possible respect. We must reconsider every policy and practice and their effects on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and all people from marginalized groups.
Below is a “starter set” of commitments that the School leadership has developed and to which we hope the School community will endorse and expand. We welcome your feedback, changes, and new ideas. Please view this as a “living document” that will continue to evolve over time to respond to the circumstances of the moment and the needs of everyone in our community. We will add deliverables and timeframes to each item below as we finalize the list together.
CSSW COMMITS TO THE FOLLOWING GOALS AND STRATEGIES TO ENHANCE OUR CULTURE/ENVIRONMENT. Some are initiatives that have been completed or are ongoing, and others are works in progress, as indicated in the progress/timeline column.
Goal A: Ensuring that all in our community embrace and implement anti-racism efforts.
|A.1. Providing ongoing anti-bias trainings for faculty, staff, and PhD students throughout the year||Ongoing; multiple trainings are being offered each semester|
|A.2. Sustaining the very successful PROP course for MSW students||Ongoing; each year conveners are selected to support reviews and revisions to the course, as well as training and peer support for instructors|
|A.3. Launching and sustaining the very successful PROP course for PhD students||Ongoing; the Associate Dean for Doctoral Education solicits feedback from instructors and students to inform revisions to the course each year|
|A.4. Creating an anti-racism statement for students to sign during the application phase or enrollment phase at CSSW||Expected to be completed in Fall 2021|
|A.5. Incorporating a DEI-related statement as part of the graduate student application process||Underway; will launch for application forms posted in Fall 2021|
|A.6. Incorporating a DEI-related statement:||Ongoing; launched in 2020-2021 faculty search process; expected to complete for staff by end of Fall 2021|
|A.7. Offering the Mini-institute on Addressing Anti-Black Racism Addressing Anti-Black Racism by CSSW faculty to faculty University-wide, the Provost, senior leaders in the Provost’s Office, all Columbia deans, and University Trustees||Completed in Summer 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021|
|A.8. Distributing the PDSA glossary to all faculty, staff, and PhD students at the start of each semester||Ongoing; will begin in Fall 2021|
|A.9. Developing more virtual DEI-related trainings so that adjunct faculty colleagues and staff are able to more easily engage in them||Ongoing; currently offering workshops on “Understanding Pronouns and Gender Identity” and “Anti-Black Racism & Navigating Difficult Dialogues in the Classroom”|
Goal B: Supporting our community members so that all can thrive.
|B.1. Addressing work conditions for our adjunct faculty colleagues by:||Completed and Ongoing:
|B.2. Addressing work conditions for our administrative staff colleagues by:||Ongoing/in process; building website with “best practices” for supervisors, to be completed in Fall 2021; work/life committee created in Fall 2020|
|B.3. Piloting a loan repayment program for alums||Launched in Spring 2021|
|B.4. Increasing stipend support to doctoral students||Ongoing; began in 2020-2021|
|B.5. Initiating doctoral student research awards to support student research and training||Launched Summer 2021|
|B.6. Extending the tenure clock by up to two years for junior faculty on the tenure track to help address challenges due to COVID||Instituted in Summer 2020|
|B.7. Reducing teaching loads for pre-tenured faculty on the tenure track to help address challenges due to COVID||Instituted in Summer 2020|
|B.8. Offering myriad support spaces and affinity groups for students, staff, and faculty||Ongoing; includes weekly support spaces for instructors, biweekly support spaces for BIPOC community members, and almost monthly spaces for Black and API community members|
|B.9. Providing a start-up financial support package for anti-racism efforts like the Action Lab||Ongoing|
|B.10. Launching and maintaining the Student Emergency Relief Fund during COVID and beyond||Ongoing; launched in 2020-2021 (approximately $100,000 raised and disbursed to students)|
|B.11. Initiating an alum-student mentorship program||Ongoing; launched in 2020-2021|
|B.12. Organizing more community building opportunities||Ongoing; virtual and in-person|
|B.13. Demonstrating appreciation for staff by implementing early dismissal for staff on summer Fridays and giving time off over the December holidays||Ongoing; “summer Fridays” began in 2017 and the winter break began in 2018|
|B.14. Training faculty and staff on trauma-informed teaching, training, and engagement||Ongoing|
|B.15. Assessing physical space and making recommendations to support DEIA||Ongoing; continuing in Fall 2021 with return to campus|
|B.16. Continuing assessment of cross-university relationships and how we can lead in this space||Ongoing; several CSSW faculty and staff serve on and chair university-wide committees, including those addressing climate change, inclusive Public Safety and addressing diversity issues across the campus|
|B.17. Maintaining small gathering groups (optional) that allow for free exchange of ideas based on celebration (e.g., museum, art, theater experiences)||Ongoing; expected to re-launch in Fall 2021, depending on COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines|
Goal C: Highlighting the contributions of diverse community members.
|C.1. Building a website dedicated to BIPOC alums who were important to our history||Expected to launch in spring 2022|
|C.2. Creating a new website on school leadership describing the COD members and their roles and responsibilities||Launched late Spring 2021: Council of Deans|
|C.3. Inviting guest speakers from diverse backgrounds to speak at high-profile events||Ongoing
|C.4. Inaugurating the dean’s lecture series on race and racism||Ongoing; Spring 2021 Lecture Series|
|C.5. Generating “I Commit” statements||Expected to be posted online by December 2021|
Goal D: Enhancing the diversity of our community.
|D.1. Securing dedicated funds for a faculty “cluster hire” initiative to recruit a cohort of scholars of race and racism, aiming to hire 3-4 full-time faculty over the next two years||Secured in 2020-2021; search ongoing; 2 new appointments so far:
Two Outstanding Scholars Join CSSW
|D.2. Increasing total scholarship funds and average scholarship amounts to improve accessibility of a CSSW education and reduce debt upon graduation||Ongoing; from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021, total financial aid to MSW students increased by more than 20%; average scholarship increased from $15,000 to $17,000; 2021 graduates had lowest loan debt per borrower in the last 3 years, with reductions in debt greatest among Black and Latinx graduates|
|D.3. Matching CARES Act funding with institutional funding for those who were not eligible||Completed in 2020-2021|
|D.4. Increasing the number of full scholarships every year||Ongoing; school-wide total has increased from 4 just a few years ago (2014-2015) to 20 for the coming academic year (2021-2022); includes special scholarships for displaced students in partnership with Columbia Global Centers|
|D.5. Dedicating three full MSW scholarships to graduates of CUNY (one of our most important feeder schools for diverse applicants)||Launched in Fall 2021; ongoing|
|D.6. Promoting faculty and staff of color into new and existing leadership positions||Council of Deans expanded; additional colleagues promoted across multiple offices at the School|
|D.7. Establishing a student co-chair for the DEI Advisory Committee||Inaugural role will launch in Fall 2021|
|D.8. Incorporating student feedback in the process of open searches for full-time faculty||Ongoing; PhD students invited to meet with faculty candidates starting in 2019-2020|
|D.9. Exploring new “pathway” programs for BIPOC MS-to-PhD students||Early research began in Summer 2021; more concrete work to be done|
|D.10. Examining the use of standardized testing in PhD admissions (e.g., GRE)||The Doctoral Program suspended the GRE requirement for the 2020 and 2021 admission cycles. Doctoral Committee to consider permanent suspension of standardized testing in the coming academic year (2021-2022)|
|D.11. Creating and providing structural supports for API and underrepresented minority (URM) PhD student affinity groups||Regular meetings inaugurated in 2020-2021; the Doctoral Office provides funding and resources to support BIPOC PhD student-led and facilitated affinity groups and events, including those focused on Black, Latinx, Native/Indigenous and API identified students, inaugurated Fall 2021|
|D.12. Identifying ways to promote even greater engagement with the surrounding community in Morningside and Harlem||Ongoing; developing partnership with CU’s Center for Community Relations and Community Impact (in progress, beginning with new internships at agencies based in Harlem and Upper Manhattan in 2021-2022)|
|D.13. Increasing the representation of URM PhD students (particularly Black PhD students)||Ongoing; developed a subcommittee focused on Black PhD student recruitment, enrollment, and retention in Fall 2021; recommendations and initiatives forthcoming|
Goal E: Ensuring accountability and restorative justice.
|E.1. Publicizing grievance and reporting procedures (including the role of EOAA and the Ombuds Office) for a whole range of concerns, including incidents of racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of oppression||Have posted a “Who to Contact” website for faculty and students.
Will expand content over Fall 2021 semester
|E.2. Sharing and regularly updating information about the race/ethnic composition of our faculty, both full-time and part-time||Ongoing; Faculty Diversity, Office of the Provost;
Adjunct Faculty Diversity, Columbia School of Social Work
|E.3. Ensuring transparency around the ownership and use of syllabi and course materials||Clearer messaging to instructors began in Spring 2021|
|E.4. Reviewing and revising our policies related to academic and behavioral concerns (i.e., Dean’s Discipline, Student Conduct, and the Ethics Board), while continuing the partnership between the Offices of Academic Affairs, Advising, and DEI for addressing conflicts as they arise||Ongoing/In process|