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Here's How Brown University Plans To Improve Race Relations With $100 Million

The school is asking students, faculty and staff for feedback on its draft plan.

Brown University is devoting $100 million to improve race relations on campus.

Christina H. Paxson, the school's president, unveiled a draft plan last week called "Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University," which aims to increase diversity and further embed issues surrounding race into the school's curriculum.

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to submit their feedback before Dec. 4. The administration will then incorporate the feedback into the plan and release the final version at the end of the semester.

"The hope is that gathering input from our campus community before we finalize our set of actions helps create a sense of ownership for all of our students, faculty and staff," said Cass Cliatt, Brown's vice president for communications. "At the end of this process, we hope that every individual member of our community can say that this is 'our plan.'"

In Paxson's foreword to the proposed plan, she acknowledged the concerns of students on campus:

The deep pain that we have heard expressed by students of color in the past weeks and months -- a pain that has been affirmed by faculty and staff members who work closely with and care deeply about our students -- is very real. We value our students of color and are grateful to them and those working with them for calling attention to actions needed to address racism and injustice on our campus.

The plan is structured around four categories: creating more "inclusive learning environments" by increasing support for campus cultural centers and tracking progress through campus climate surveys; "building and supporting a diverse community" by expanding diversity among faculty and staff and creating new study and research opportunities; providing better academic leadership through interdisciplinary programs; and showing accountability through a "clear and transparent process of oversight."

Brown also announced plans for a yearlong series of lectures and workshops on structural racism in the U.S., focused on five areas: housing, education, wealth, criminal justice and mass media.

Some students have lamented the lack of diversity in certain academic departments. "While the [Institute at Brown for Environment and Society] has taken some important first steps, we find the plan’s implementation too slow and worry this effort has become just one of the many items on a much longer administrative to-do list," Camila Bustos and Michael Murphy, two Brown students, wrote in a Brown Daily Herald opinion piece last week.

Other schools are adopting similar initiatives. Yale University President Peter Salovey recently outlined steps that the school will take to address the concerns of minority students, including a new interdisciplinary center focused on race and ethnicity as well as greater support for campus cultural centers.

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