This statement was drafted by the Slavic Graduate Students' Association and approved by Slavic Faculty.
The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign stands united with those all over the nation rightfully protesting to demand an immediate end to police violence against Black people. We join our voices with those demanding justice, accountability, and change. As educators we have a responsibility to challenge racism in all its forms and to dismantle the systems of oppression that again and again deprive our Black brothers, sisters, and siblings of their very right to live.
As a department and as scholars in the field of Slavic Studies, we are committed to better addressing issues of race in the classroom and beyond; to creating safer, more inclusive spaces for minoritized students; and to promoting the voices of marginalized artists, educators, and scholars.
We commit to the following:
- We will educate ourselves about how to effectively and respectfully discuss race and ethnicity within our areas of research, as well as within the US.
- We will broaden our course offerings to incorporate questions of race and ethnicity as they pertain to our fields of study and how they pertain to the questions of race and ethnicity in the US.
- We will incorporate lessons on how to respectfully discuss race and ethnicity within the language courses we offer, seeking out updated textbooks and other resources.
- We will produce a mandatory department-wide syllabus statement outlining support and resources for marginalized students.
- We will educate ourselves on the potential challenges that Black students and other minoritized students may face while studying abroad in the countries within our areas of research, and we will offer resources that specifically address these concerns.
- We will strive to create a classroom and wider university environment that is not only free of racism and bigotry, but is specifically anti-racist, and on how to address issues of racism, prejudice, and hate should they arise.
- We will highlight the work of Black and other minoritized artists and scholars in our field within our courses, on our departmental website and social media pages, and elsewhere (display cases in FLB, for example).
- We will work towards diversifying our invited speakers and work with other related departments and units related to our field to ensure that they do so as well (REEEC, for example).
- We will organize events focused on issues of race and racism as they pertain to our field, including reading groups, workshops, and conferences.
- We will improve our hiring and recruitment processes to prioritize BIPOC candidates and work to not only address the root causes of low participation of BIPOC in Slavic Studies, but actively seek to remedy them to create a more diverse recruiting and hiring base for the future.
- We will work with major organizations in our field, such as ASEEES and AATSEEL, in developing ways to include and promote the work of marginalized artists and scholars.
- We commit to working with our graduate students and the Slavic Graduate Students’ Association to foster dialogue on how to continue addressing issues pertaining to race and racism in our department and to ensure that the actions outlined above are followed through consistently, thoughtfully, and effectively. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Working with graduate students to compile a list of resources on Blackness and racism in our field.
- Working with graduate students to address and improve how current course offerings incorporate issues of race and racism.
We call on everyone to educate themselves and others, speak out against instances of racial injustice, both here in our own community of Champaign-Urbana and in communities around the country, and to make every effort we can to amplify and support Black voices.
Once again, we reiterate our support for the protesters, and we wish to unambiguously state that Black lives matter.