PULLMAN, Wash. — Gov. Gary Locke will open a campus-wide dialogue on race relations and social justice Thursday, April 30, on the Washington State University campus.
The program is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the Compton Union Building Auditorium. Following Locke’s keynote remarks, participants will gather in small groups for discussions examining the types of initiatives appropriate for the campus and community to bring about an environment of respect for individuals of all backgrounds.
Gov. Locke, President Samuel Smith and Provost Gretchen Bataille are expected to participate in the discussions. The executive directors of the state’s ethnic minority commissions are scheduled take part.
The event is part of a series of open forums and public meetings held by the university this spring to promote social justice and a hate-free university and community. It also is being held in response to President Bill Clinton’s Initiative on Race and an appeal that schools throughout the country participate in the initiative.
“The President’s initiative not only challenges us to work toward a shared community in which individual differences are respected and celebrated, but calls on each of us to engage in the difficult dialogue in an open and honest way, ” said Steve Nakata, interim director of Multicultural Student Services, a co-sponsor of the event.
Other sponsors are the WSU President’s and Provost’s offices and the Graduate School.
Karen DePauw, interim Graduate School dean, said the program is structured to facilitate group discussions on race as well as the intersections of other cultural identities. Three common themes provide the context for discussion. The first focus is on a university community as an educationally purposeful community, a place where faculty, students and staff share academic goals and work together to strengthen teaching and learning, and where freedom of expression is uncompromisingly protected. Second, a university should be open and inclusive, a place where the well-being of each member is sensitively supported and the community’s goals are defined with references to the whole, rather than a few. The third theme is that a university community should be a just community, a place where equality is valued, where diversity is aggressively pursued, and where well-defined governance procedures guide behavior for the common good.
In a letter to students, faculty, staff and members of the Pullman community, Nakata and DePauw declare, “We’re serious about the dialogue and we want your input, your voices and your commitment to change and positive action. We want your sense of what WSU has accomplished and what WSU still needs to accomplish to foster a community that is able to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”