Higher Education Must Work for Justice

June 1, 2020

The rage and frustration on display in communities across the country are visible manifestations of the centuries-long legacy and continuing reality of racial injustice and racial hierarchy in the United States. Campus Compact stands on the side of justice.

While the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer served as the trigger for the recent wave of protests, police disregard of the rights and lives of African Americans is one aspect of the systemic injustice that continues to pervade American life. As a coalition of colleges and universities committed to a vision of full participation of everyone in all aspects of public life, Campus Compact calls upon higher education to take action in pursuit of equal justice, equal opportunity, and equal power for all.

While institutions of higher education cannot on their own end racial injustice, there is much they can do, both by addressing the inequities that continue to characterize access and success in college and by mobilizing their resources to ensure that members of all communities have pathways to full participation in our democracy, our economy, and our society.

In 2015, following an earlier wave of protests in response to police violence against African Americans, Campus Compact released a set of recommendations for steps colleges and universities could take to challenge injustice. We stand by these.

We also recommend that colleges and universities examine the circumstances in their own communities and take specific steps consistent with their stated values. The University of Minnesota, in announcing its decision to minimize interaction with the Minneapolis Police Department, provides a laudable example of linking actions to words. That its action came in response to student demands for change emphasizes the degree to which taking seriously our own democratic commitments provides a pathway to positive change.

We at Campus Compact recognize that we are implicated in the same systems of inequity and injustice as every other institution and organization in the United States. The historian Ibram X. Kendi has shown us that there is no such thing as non-racism, only racism and anti-racism. We have begun the internal work necessary for making us an anti-racist network. That work will not be finished in a month, a year, or at any foreseeable date, but it is work that must be done.

As we work to align our own organization with our values, we ask our member colleges and universities to join us.

Campus Compact Statement on Higher Education’s Response to Events in Baltimore and around the United States

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