In an email to students on Friday, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana acknowledged recent “events and discussions” about race at other colleges and tied them to Harvard by saying that he will soon unveil “specific initiatives” that have been proposed to “address structural and cultural biases here on campus.”
Over the past few weeks, protests in response to allegations of racism have erupted on campuses across the country, including the University of Missouri and Yale, prompting debate about the experiences of students of color there as well as about free speech.
“Like many of you, I have been following the events and discussions on other campuses and across our nation about race, inclusion, and the value of open discourse,” Khurana wrote on Friday, praising Harvard students for participating in “these difficult, and sometimes, painful conversations.”
A number of Harvard students have weighed in on the protests via social media, with many posting Facebook statuses in support of protesters at Yale and Mizzou.
Connecting those conversations to Harvard, Khurana said Friday that more needs to be done to increase inclusivity on campus. Khurana called on students to “examine the connections between our practices and the culture we create” and “re-think how we treat each other on a daily basis, specifically questioning what it means to regard someone else as ‘them’ or the ‘other’ and what boundaries circumscribe our understanding of who we are.”
“Change doesn’t happen overnight. But the steps we are taking now will have a lasting impact on our community,” he added.
Specifically, Khurana said he will soon ask students to discuss a number of proposals related to bias on campus. While it is unclear exactly what Khurana was referring to, he wrote that the suggestions would be “specific initiatives that you as students working along-side College leadership have proposed.”
In 2014, the College tasked Pusey Minister Jonathan L. Walton with leading a student-faculty working group to address issues of race and inclusion at the College. The committee has already recommended an extension of the College’s meal plan during spring break to alleviate hardship for low-income students. Khurana has also said that he is preparing a set of recommendations about social life at the College.
—Staff writer Ivan B. K. Levingston can be reached at Ivan.Levingston@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @IvanLevingston.