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President Crawford announces new diversity task force

In a university-wide email yesterday, Miami University President Greg Crawford announced the creation of the President’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force. 

The new task force is charged with providing “expertise, advice, and insights on DEI efforts across the university and our campuses,” according to its webpage.

The new DEI Task Force will be co-chaired by Director of Residence Life Vicka Bell-Robinson and Associate Professor of family science and social work Anthony James.

Crawford’s announcement came nearly three weeks after the start of nationwide protests in response to the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other black Americans. 

“This is a crucible moment for Miami University and local, state, national and global communities in which we exist,” Bell-Robinson and James wrote in a letter from DEI Task Force’s co-chairs. “Change is hard and focusing on DEI is a deeply personal experience that requires us to step out of our comfort zones and into discomfort. We can no longer privilege our individual discomfort over the collective good.”

Bell-Robinson and James did not respond to requests for comment.

The new task force has five main pillars: dialogue and allyship, advocacy and partnerships, cultural competency, structural and resource support, and inclusion and accountability.

According to the DEI Task Force’s charge, these five pillars are a starting point from which the group will determine more focus areas.

In his email, Crawford said members of the task force would be announced in the coming days, and that it would be made up of “students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners.”

Student Body President Jannie Kamara confirmed her participation in the task force to The Miami Student. 

Kamara said the task force first met on Monday and had a second meeting yesterday.

According to Kamara’s Google Calendar invitation, six students were invited to yesterday’s meeting. Kamara said four of them were first notified of the meeting two hours before it began. 

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Thirty-six people in total were invited to the task force’s first meeting. Attendees included Miami head football coach Chuck Martin, Oxford Mayor Mike Smith and Miami University Police Chief John McCandless.

An online form has been created for members of the Miami community to submit ideas, questions and concerns about the new task force. Those can be submitted here