Center for Racial Justice and Inclusive Excellence (CRJIE)

Kente Ceremony
Group of students at pass through the pillars
Office of Equity and Inclusion Student Workers
Peer Mentor Program

The year 2020 saw a collective manifestation against centuries of racial injustice across the nation. From state to state, the voices of the people were loud and clear – the lives of Black and Brown people matter. SUNY Oneonta, unfortunately, is not exempted from this history of racial injustice. On September 4, 1992 the campus experienced an unfortunate racial incident – the Black List Incident that will remain part of the college’s history.

The Center for Multicultural Experiences (CME) is one of the action steps taken by the college in 1993 following the 1992 Black List Incident. Current nation/world-wide discourse on racial and social justice issues make it very fitting to re-redefine and expand the activities of the CME, to better support the college's diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and racial and social justice goals, as well as honor all who were impacted by the 1992 racial incident and adequately recognize the impact it has and continues to have on the campus and the community.

The Center for Racial Justice and Inclusive Excellence (CRJIE), will provide educational opportunities to both the campus and the community in this regard and ensure that the history is prominent on our campus and never forgotten. The CRJIE will provide a new space for DEI to be taught, learned and celebrated. It will provide a venue for students and the community to hear the history of the center and see it as a resource. The CRJIE will provide out-of-class experiences that will not only help students reach their academic potentials but also opportunities to build lifelong careers. The center will serve as a catalyst for creating and providing continuous exchange of ideas and information that creates energy for anti-racism trainings, teaching and learning.

The focus on race as a key component of the CRJIE shows a strong commitment by the campus to right any wrongs by owning its history and the dimension on inclusive excellence is to lay emphasis in the intersectional aspects of other forms of isms, other social justice issues and the importance in addressing them. The CRJIE will also be engaged in campus-wide dialogue/educational opportunities related to inclusive excellence, racial justice and diversity and inclusion programs in collaboration with various departments, drawing from both campus and off-campus expertise.

A racial/social justice museum and learning library will be developed within the Center, in collaboration with the Cooperstown Graduate Program of Museum Studies, The Africana & Latinx Studies Department, the Library, the Faculty Learning Center, the Office of Communication, and Marketing, and other campus departments and student groups/organizations.

The vision is for the CRJIE to be considered in the college’s Facilities Master Plan to ensure it can expand into a more prominent and visible space on campus.

Some Major CRJIE Activities

  • Annual Racial Justice Symposium
  • Expanded Mentoring Program with stipends for mentors
  • Endowed Speakers Series
  • Reunions
  • Internships – paid and credit bearing
  • Faculty–in-Residence Programs
  • Scholarships to support student academics
  • Student staff salary support
  • Mini grants for campus community members to sponsor and facilitate topics on race.

CRJIE Advisory Committee

  • Dr. Gretchen Sorin, Director & Distinguished Service Professor of Museum Studies
  • Dr. Trudy Thomas Smith, Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry
  • Dr. Penina Kamina, Professor, Elementary Education & Reading
  • Dr. Robert Compton, Professor, Africana and Latinx Studies
  • Dr. Betty Wambui, Professor, Africana and Latinx Studies
  • Dr. Rhea Nowak, Professor, of Art & Faculty Center Director
  • Dr. Greg Hummel, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies & Affiliate Faculty, Women's and Gender Studies
  • Dr. Maria Daza Chaves, Assistant Professor, Africana and Latinx Studies
  • Dr. Howard Ashford, Assistant Professor, Africana and Latinx Studies
  • Dr. William Walker, Associate Professor, Cooperstown Graduate Program
  • Sophia Monsalve, Student & Program Coordinator, CME
  • Gabrielle Cecere, Student & Student Association President
  • Mahem Waheed, Student & Student Association Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Chair
  • Dr. Tracy Betsinger, Professor, Anthropology
  • Dr. Sallie Han, Professor, Anthropology
  • Andrew Stammel, J.D., Affirmative Action Officer and Title IX Coordinator
  • Bernadette Tiapo, Ph.D., Chief Diversity Officer & Interim VP for Student Development, Advisory Committee Chair

"If colleges and universities are to best represent what they aspire to be--more diverse, more equitable and inclusive--they must acknowledge, interrogate, and dismantle the systems and structures that have been created and evolved over time which sustain inequities impacting the living, learning and work environment of students, faculty and staff. We must do our “home” work and demonstrate what it means to dismantle racism." Excerpt from a statement by NADOHE titled: Accountability: A Step Towards Justice, April 21, 2021 – Ford Lauderdale, FL.

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