The death of George Floyd on May 25 and the protests that continue have amplified the outcry for justice across our country and the world. Racism, bias, police brutality, systemic inequity, economic disparities, and countless other issues that plague Black communities have been brought to the forefront, and they are issues that demand not merely discussion, but action. Driven by our Jesuit mission, the Santa Clara community—students, alumni, faculty, and staff—have lifted their voices by demanding accountability and change.
We are an Association established, in part, to foster lifelong relationships between the University and all alumni; however, we understand we fail to fully meet that objective if Black alumni, or alumni of any race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion, age, or social and economic status do not feel heard or invited to participate in our community in meaningful ways.
We cannot, by ourselves, solve all the issues of inequity that call for solutions, whether in our communities or on our own campus. But to truly serve our Santa Clara Family, we must look critically at the work we do. We must ask difficult questions. And we must create firm, actionable responses to better serve all alumni, but specifically our Black community.
Today, we offer the following context, action plans, and additional resources:
1. Voices for Change
- SCU students and alumni of color have long spoken out about the need for change. Through the years, several student-led movements have advocated for sustained, institutional action.
- In response to Unity 4, the University established the Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity and Inclusion to consider how to improve the recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and staff of color and help the University become a more inclusive and diverse community for all populations.
- The Blue Ribbon Commission report resulted in the creation of the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, as well as the completion of a Campus Climate survey.
- In the past few weeks, many alumni have communicated directly with the University to voice concerns and offer suggestions, including the full and immediate implementation of the Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations.
2. Moving Forward
Our efforts will lead us on a journey, not to a destination. Nevertheless, over the next twelve months, the Alumni Association resolutely and joyfully commits to the following first steps:
- The Assistant Director, Community Engagement—Student & Identity is a position within the Office of Alumni Relations, dedicated to working with our identity-based communities and leading our current student engagement efforts. The position is a direct response to the Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations and was approved by HR in February 2020. It is now on hold due to the University's current hiring freeze. Once the hiring freeze is lifted, we pledge to hire quickly and to hire an individual who truly reflects the constituencies he or she will serve.
- Convening the leaders of our identity-based communities for regular counsel and transparently sharing issues and outcomes with our entire alumni community.
- Developing a detailed plan for improved connections between alumni and students, with a specific focus on alumni and current students of color.
- Identifying and offering Alumni Association events and programs that are more inclusive in purpose and content.
- Highlighting events sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Learning (OML), the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the Multicultural Center (MCC), and other student groups of color in our alumni communications.
- Continuing our efforts to diversify our Alumni Board at every level, including race/ethnicity, age, geographic location, and gender.
- Implementing ongoing cultural competency training for the Alumni Relations staff, Alumni Association Board of Directors, and key alumni community leaders.
- Offering all alumni organized opportunities to learn more about issues that profoundly affect the Black community and other communities of color.
- Providing a clear channel for alumni to report claims of discrimination by staff, other University representatives, or attendees at Alumni Association events/programs.
- Working closely and collaboratively with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the future Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion to identify ways to better serve all alumni.
- Sharing our progress on these commitments in December 2020, and again in June 2021.
These are our first steps but our hearts and our minds are open. If you have additional ideas for how we might better support our entire Alumni Family, please share your suggestions here.
3. Additional Resources
For those looking to learn and understand more, please see these additional resources:
The Alumni Association exists because we believe a strong Santa Clara Family makes the world a better place. We look forward to listening, learning, and strengthening the family together.
Dr. Melina Johnson '01, M.A. '03
President, Alumni Association Board of Directors
Co-President, Black Alumni Group
Santa Clara University
Kathryn Kale '86
AVP, Alumni Relations
Santa Clara University