FAQs: Black Student Demands

Inspired by the conscientious advocacy and activism of Emory students of color, the university is squarely addressing issues of racial and social justice to collectively reimagine and reshape our institution. Emory’s Racial and Social Justice Initiative is advancing a set of student demands to transform our campus culture and forge a sustainable movement that aligns with our core mission to “create, preserve, teach and apply knowledge in the service of humanity.” While we still have much work ahead of us, the following FAQs highlight some recent progress.


What is the Commission for Racial and Social Justice (CRSJ)?

The CRSJ is responsible for crafting Emory’s vision on racial and social justice, identifying stakeholders to develop effective strategies and tactics, and integrating those strategies into the university’s day-to-day operations to achieve desired outcomes. Commission members include students, faculty, staff, and key administrators. Each member serves on one or more committees – Executive Committee, Steering Committee, and the Social Justice Process Owners (SJPO) – that meet regularly.

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How is the university responding to concerns about inadequate communications about bias incidents on campus?

Acting on recommendations from the commission, the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) is making important changes such as: implementing additional training to improve communications with those who report bias; expanding outreach about bias to include students, faculty, and staff; developing meaningful content for all deans of student affairs; and implementing software to enhance their response to such incidents. View the latest BIRT report.

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Students demanded that the university respond directly to those reporting bias within 48 hours. Is that happening?

The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) has fully implemented requirements needed to comply with this demand. In addition, BIRT has been elevated as a leadership and support team that encompasses a number of departments impacting student life and now includes Emory’s Oxford campus.

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How is Emory attending to the psychological needs of students affected by racism and social inequality?

In addition to piloting a peer ambassador program, we are seeking to identify and implement a wider range of mental health services through the office of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). The additional services are keenly attuned to the sensitivities of students of color and others victimized by systemic discrimination.

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Have faculty evaluation forms been updated to address questions about faculty attitudes and actions regarding racial, gender, ability, and class identities?

Not as yet; meeting this demand currently remains a work in progress.

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Is Emory institutionalizing academic support for black students?

The university has created STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Pathways to serve first-generation and underrepresented students. We are also recruiting peer leaders in academic support programs, awarding scholarships through the Civic Scholars Program, providing professional attire for job and internship-seekers, and hosting a fall career fair for employers seeking to hire a diverse workforce.

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How is Emory incorporating input from black students when developing diversity and inclusion programs?

We have established the Center for the Advancement of Student Advocacy and Agency (CASA2), which consists of five interdisciplinary teams to assist students in serving as agents of change. We have expanded the membership of an issues-oriented working group and surveyed the university’s current programs to prioritize areas of focus.

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Will Emory hire more black faculty, staff, and administrators and improve working conditions for employees of color?

Many university entities – including Campus Life, Office of the Provost, and Office of the President – have been focused on moving the institution from diversity to inclusion and developing initiatives, incentives, and coalitions to increase resources and support for diverse faculty and staff. We are actively pursuing strategies and tactics to assist with recruitment efforts and to address student concerns about job security for these employees.

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What is Emory doing to better support black student organizations and inequities in funding for such groups?

Emory’s student government association task force has established criteria for events and activities that might otherwise be considered “exclusive” and deemed ineligible for funding, but which address the university’s overarching goal of creating a more diverse and inclusive campus environment. We also plan to recruit and retain black faculty and staff to serve on the University Conduct Council to closely review our policies and practices and make changes, as needed.

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Students are demanding that Emory increase to 10 percent its black and Latino, full-time, tenure-track professors by 2017. Is the university meeting that goal?

The university’s Office of Equity and Inclusion has conducted a “climate” survey to develop an in-depth profile of our strengths and needs in this area. We are still gathering and analyzing data on recruitment and retention of underrepresented faculty to address our key challenges.

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Will Emory install a geo-fence to block hate speech on social media apps, like Yik Yak, used by some students to demean and threaten others?

A task force that included students researched this demand and concluded a geo-fence is not feasible. The group instead recommended that Emory establish student-oriented programs to respond to social-media-based bias, connect educational offerings to anti-bias prevention and interpersonal response, and ensure more robust action by the school’s Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT).

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Will Emory start offering a General Education Diploma (GED) classes for blacks who work in maintenance and other service areas?

Since Emory already requires a high school diploma or GED for employment, we have decided not to pursue this initiative.

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When is Emory going to establish a General Education Requirement (GER) for all students focusing specifically on the histories and experiences of people of color?

We have formed a working group of students and faculty to further explore this demand.

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What¿s the best way to keep up with the latest information about these issues and others raised through the 13 demands set forth by black Students at Emory?

The Emory Campus Life Dialogue website provides regular updates about the university’s racial and social justice efforts.

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