Statement on Black Lives Matter, Diversity, and Inclusion

Statement on Black Lives Matter, Diversity, and Inclusion

The faculty and staff of the Department of Geography and Planning at Appalachian State University strongly affirm that Black Lives Matter.

We stand in solidarity with those seeking to change systemic racism, inequality, and discrimination. We are appalled and saddened by the recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, and many others. We support the statements released by the American Association of Geographers and American Planning Association that identify that these deaths are the product of racism, violence, and inequities and likewise support the demands for diversity, equity, and inclusion from the American Geophysical Union. Emphasizing human rights, enhancing diversity, promoting inclusion, and advocating for historically marginalized social groups are central to the disciplines of Geography and Planning. We affirm a commitment to resist and confront the devaluation of people of color by recognizing our role in creating and maintaining these systems.

We commit to:

  1. Acknowledge the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality, and other forms of identity to create an inclusive environment for all.

  2. Recognize the disproportionate impact of current events on members of our student community who are Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC).

  3. Listen to those students, and provide a safe platform for discussions of those and other issues with the Department Chair.

  4. Identify the mechanisms available for all members of our Department to report bias incidents, including listing this information on our departmental website.

  5. Acknowledge the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and other global health issues on BIPOC students, faculty, and staff.

  6. Create Departmental scholarship opportunities for BIPOC students that are not directly allotted by a merit-based scholarship designation (as recommended by the #BlackAtAppState petition and the university response).

  7. Dedicate one or more Departmental colloquium each semester to invite researchers to speak about racism and/or social justice issues.

  8. Create an “Inclusive Excellence Student Advisory Board” who will meet with the Chair once per month, starting Fall 2020.

We know that words alone will not make a difference.

We are committed to action and to listening to students. In addition to our aforementioned comments, this semester students will complete an anonymous inclusion survey to help direct subsequent town hall virtual discussions to address feedback from the survey.