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Podcast Series Encourages Community Conversations About Racial Justice

“All Are Welcome,” a new podcast hosted by TLU President Dr. Debbie Cottrell, explores past and present issues of racial justice on our campus and in our community.

As a result of conversations over the summer with faculty, staff, students, and alumni, President Cottrell wanted to create a forum to discuss and delve deeper into these topics.

The series features seven episodes during the fall semester beginning with Episode 1: “TLU Graduates and Educators: Learning from Our Own” featuring alumni Chawanna Chambers, Anthony Guillory, Nick Hayes, and Stephanie Womack, where they share their experiences as students and alumni, as well as their thoughts and advice for current and future students.

Inspired by the tragic and senseless deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, and George Floyd in just the first half of the year, Dr. Cottrell wanted to put a campus action plan for racial justice into action.

After the death of George Floyd and countless other Black men and women, the President’s Cabinet was clear that we wanted to have not only written and verbal responses, but that we wanted to think about action, in a variety of ways,” President Cottrell said. “The podcasts developed as one piece of TLU’s Action Plan for Racial Justice, in the category of Community Engagement and Conversation. I talked to current students about what they would be interested in hearing more about, and also consulted with alumni and other TLU supporters on how this kind of conversation could be the most helpful.”

First and foremost, President Cottrell says she wants each episode to be a time of listening and learning.

“I hope they provide new and different perspectives, that they fill in some gaps, and that they provide a forum for a civil discourse on topics that might, at times, move us beyond our comfort zone,” she said.

She also acknowledges top-level initiatives must occur for institutional change to truly happen and plans to hire a Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion who will provide leadership for work related to racial justice and equity. President Cottrell also says TLU will be more attentive to hiring practices that help achieve a presence of faculty and staff members that is reflective of the diverse student body.

“I certainly don’t expect one person to come in and ‘do’ all of our diversity work—that would be wrong in just about every way,” she said. “But I do think it makes sense to have a leader, an expert, and a centralized place from which our diversity efforts can flow. I would never try to run a college without a vice president for finance—that would just not make sense. Nor would I expect that the critical issues in student life and academic affairs could somehow resolve themselves without strong and effective leaders working within an institutional structure that recognizes their importance. For me, diversity, equity, and inclusion represent some of the most basic and central elements of the work on college campuses, so it’s critical to create strong leadership and a structure to support that.”

Episodes Out Now:

Episode 1: TLU Graduates and Educators: Learning from Our Own (Chawanna Chambers, Stephanie Womack, Anthony Guillory, Nick Hayes)

Episode 2: TLU’s Diversity Committee: Goals and Challenges with Professor and Chair of the Diversity Committee Chris Bollinger, Director for Student Activities Samira Lopez, and Associate Professor and Director for Mexican American Studies Jennifer Mata

Episode 3: Seguin Reads about Racial Justice featuring KWED/Seguin Daily News General Manager and Partner Darren Dunn

Episode 4: Building Bridges: TLU and Seguin Police featuring TLU Police Chief Irene Garcia

Future Episodes:

Episode 5: 50 Years of BSU at TLU featuring BSU President and TLU senior Rashad Tolbert and other BSU members

Episode 6: The NAACP in Seguin featuring local NAACP members

Episode 7: The Role of Mentoring at TLU featuring Associate Dean for Student Life & Learning Bernadette Buchanan, Associate Professor Rodrick Shao, and TLU Director for Human Resources Toi Turner

Sidebar Box: The Center for Teaching and Learning will lead a fall lunch discussion series to help campus understand more about systemic racism and will also continue to offer their Social Justice and Inclusion short course. The university is also looking to open up meaningful dialogue with our larger community, including the Seguin Police Department.

Sidebar:

TLU’s Action Plan for Racial Justice

June 11, 2020

The President’s Cabinet at Texas Lutheran University is committed to initiating and leading meaningful change and tangible actions to address racial justice on our campus. Like the national movement taking place before our very eyes, TLU’s plan requires ongoing commitment and attention, beginning immediately. It will be revised and grow as needed. It will intersect with our University’s forthcoming Strategic Plan for 2020-25 and the TLU Diversity Committee’s Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Driven by a moral rather than political imperative, our work will be organized in three main categories.

Category 1: Community Engagement and Conversation

  • Initiate a Presidential Podcast series with weekly topics and guests representing a variety of insights and expertise on racial justice across our community. By featuring current students, faculty, staff, alumni, scholars, and local community leaders, we will provide an outlet for ideas to be discussed in a thoughtful, civil way that promotes understanding, education, and empathy for others.
  • Use TLU’s established communication channels—website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube—to share and highlight our conversations and educate our community on the important work of racial justice initiatives; on our opposition to racially motivated police violence, systemic racism, and the disregard of Black lives; and our support for all members of the TLU community.
  • Create ongoing dialogues to engage our students and alumni and ensure that their voices and concerns are heard by TLU leadership.
  • Hire a Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion who will serve on the President’s Cabinet and provide leadership for institutional change related to racial justice and equity.
  • Institute further hiring procedures and policies to create an employee base that is reflective of the diversity of our student body.
  • Increase diversity on all TLU boards.
  • In our forthcoming strategic plan, incorporate a goal of “embracing and celebrating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion” and utilize the Diversity Committee’s DEI Strategic Plan in this process.
  • Initiate racial justice conversations sponsored by Student Life & Learning.
  • Establish regular dialogue with campus police and the Seguin Police Department to discuss and share non-violent police protocols that honor equality and safety and address how we will protect our students from violence and discrimination on our campus and in our community.
  • Offer fall lunch discussion series for faculty, staff, and students focused on podcasts and readings on systemic racism (sponsored by President’s Office and run through Center for Teaching and Learning).
  • Encourage participation in the Social Justice and Inclusion short course offered by the Center for Teaching and Learning this year.
  • Explore how racial justice issues can be woven into the curriculum, utilizing our African American Studies Program, Mexican American Studies Program, General Education curriculum, and other appropriate areas.
  • Ensure that TLU Athletics incorporates racial justice principles in their work with student athletes. Invite speakers to campus and share videos of past TLU speakers (Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson, for example) or other external speakers (Shaun Harper, Beverly Daniel Tatum, for example) on a regular basis with the TLU community.
  • Create Action Plan for Racial Justice page on our website to house content related to TLU’s racial justice efforts and actions.
  • Provide mental health resources to our community, including those that address issues of trauma.
  • Prioritize time for TLU’s senior leadership team to participate in readings and discussions focused on race so that, as the institution’s leaders, we are informed and engaged when discussing racial justice.

Category 2: Changes in Institutional Structure and Leadership

Category 3: Focused Education and Programming