Statement in Support of Black Graduate Students

Graduate College Commitment and Action Statement in Support of Black Graduate Students

Structural racism and anti-Blackness have been part of the fabric of this country for centuries.  Outrage over the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Rekia Boyd,  Laquan McDonald and so many more Black individuals at the hands of the police, and the widening health, educational, and economic disparities and injustices in this country put into sharp focus by the COVID-19 pandemic, have led us to a necessary and overdue tipping point.

In this time of great sadness and anger, we are called upon to address anti-Blackness and uphold the values and mission that UIC espouses with a commitment to accountability and justice.  The Graduate College is committed to seeing changes within the college and UIC that eliminate the barriers to success for Black graduate students.

We in the Graduate College have been working to promote diversity within UIC graduate programs through our fellowship and pipeline programs. However, we acknowledge that our efforts and processes, as a college, are falling short and that all students, especially Black students, are not fully benefiting from our programs.

While we recognize that we don’t have all the answers at this point, we do commit to addressing urgent issues we have identified and others that may come to light in the future. As a starting point, we will do the following:

  • Work in collaboration with other units to provide faculty, staff and students essential trainings to address implicit bias, structural racism, anti-Blackness, and good mentoring practices. We will make these trainings mandatory for faculty to maintain graduate faculty status, which is required for their ability to train graduate students.
  • Provide training for faculty and staff on culturally aware applicant review and fellowship nomination processes to ensure the effective recruitment and support of Black graduate students.
  • Reevaluate our funding mechanisms to maximize financial support for Black graduate students.
  • Allocate research awards specifically for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) graduate students doing research addressing discrimination, inequality, and health disparities in communities of color.
  • Expand and leverage our networks and educate graduate program faculty and staff to ensure that Black graduate students are aware of all available funding, professional development and job opportunities, and that Black undergraduate students are aware of and prepared for graduate school opportunities at UIC and elsewhere.
  • Acknowledging the low numbers of Black faculty at UIC who might serve as role models for our Black graduate students, we will advocate for an increase in their numbers and at the same time intentionally assist Black graduate students to connect with faculty and staff who have a track record of consistently and successfully supporting Black students.

The Graduate College encourages an on-going dialog with students, faculty, and staff about how to address these issues and to examine whether our approaches are working.