Monday, President Christina Paxson P’19 announced the completion of Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University, a proposal to address and alleviate issues of inequality and exclusion on campus. Well-organized and thought out, the document satisfactorily incorporates community feedback. It is divided into six main sections and describes plans to diversify the graduate student population, the faculty and course offerings and ameliorate other important elements of campus life.
In an article published in today’s Herald (“Paxson releases final diversity, inclusion action plan,” Feb. 2), Paxson told The Herald that the most important part of the plan is not how much it costs, but the cultural shift it represents. While promoting an anti-racist cultural shift on campus is absolutely necessary, and the plan addresses this need, the price tag matters.
Indeed, what gives the plan force and impact is the specificity with which it approaches the issues of diversity and inclusion. The detailed appendices of the plan outline a specific implementation that community members can participate in and hold the University accountable for. In fact, The Herald intends to do so explicitly.
Bolstering the investment in making Brown a more inclusive environment from $100 million to $165 million — more than the ethnic studies faculty members requested in their “5 percent” plan — demonstrates a real commitment to making this change. And while the plan does not address every point community members raised in responding to the initial draft of the plan, this investment makes clear that the University is serious about making Brown a safe and comfortable environment for every member of the community.
This plan also makes Brown a leader in this effort. It is important to note that very few of Brown’s peer institutions have made such a commitment, and while one should not be content with such a claim — it does not set the bar very high — the plan marks progress.
Though the plan does not meet every demand made by every community member, it also does not represent a midpoint between the initial draft and the demands made by community members; it instead represents a thoughtful, sustainable level of progress that could spur additional change in the future. By creating spaces for every member of the Brown community to educate themselves and discuss inherent biases and structural discrimination, the University will create leaders that will catalyze more change globally — not just at Brown.
Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Emma Axelrod ’18 and Emma Jerzyk ’17, and its members, Eben Blake ’17, Aranshi Kumar ’17 and Leeron Lempel ’19. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.