College President Taylor Reveley announced his decision to create a Task Force on Race and Race Relations Monday in an email to the College of William and Mary community.
Reveley called it “akin to the task force now at work on sexual violence” and named Chon Glover, Chief Diversity Officer at the College, chair.
“We need to engage difficult racial issues at William & Mary, just as we grapple with those raised by sexual assault and harassment,” Reveley said in the email. “These are the very sorts of discussions a W&M education prepares us to undertake. The task force will identify issues related to race relations on campus, engage them on their merits, and encourage meaningful conversation among people with different perspectives, so we can learn from one another and ensure we are a university where everyone is welcome and respected.”
Glover said the size of the task force has yet to be determined.
“There will be a significant student presence,” Glover said in an email. “Additionally, there will be opportunities for student involvement in the subcommittees that will be formed.”
Glover also mentioned that students interested in joining the task force should reach out to her by the end of next week in order to be considered. She will accept any emails from members of the community sharing their input.
“These are critical issues for our community to act upon,” she said. “I hope to facilitate opportunities where all voices are heard and we engage in robust conversations that will help guide our important work. We must be proactive and committed to creating a truly welcoming and inclusive community where there is mutual respect and understanding.”
Student Assembly Secretary of Diversity Initiatives Hannah Kohn ’15 has been involved in the creation of the task force as well as an advisory committee on Student Assembly that aims to introduce a diversity conversation series over the coming weeks.
“We believe that we must continue finding ways to communicate with and understand each other better — and not just friends we spend time with every day,” Kohn said in an email. “I hope that we can step out of our comfort zones and start having the tougher conversations with those we may not know, too, listening deeply, sharing our experiences, and allowing ourselves to be impacted by the experiences of others in a way that facilitates a little more compassion and empathy in our daily lives and in our community. We hope that one day all students here will genuinely feel that William & Mary is the family we claim to be. We are listening. Let’s talk – let’s make things better, together.”
Kohn also said that new I Am W&M Initiative Facebook page can act as a resource for students interested in serving on the committee or attending events.
“We encourage students to express their feelings, experiences, and concerns to us in the coming months, so that Student Assembly can best amplify and advocate for those voices as we serve on the task force … The goal of the task force is to build a more accepting, understanding, and safe campus community where everyone feels valued for who they are, but we cannot do this unless we hear from our peers regarding specific issues on campus and practical methods of addressing these problems,” she said.