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UToledo Hosts Dialogue on Diversity to Discuss Gandhi Sculpture

The University of Toledo is continuing its Dialogues on Diversity series with a conversation about the role of art in society, the differences between art and monuments, and how to best recognize the achievements of fallible individuals.

The next virtual town hall in the series titled “Stay or Go? The Story of a Gandhi Sculpture” will take place 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24 and can be accessed on Webex using the access code 172 458 2365. The meeting password is DoD8. Join by phone at 415.655.0002.

This summer the University removed a sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian independence movement, that was part of the group of new art works installed on campus for UToledo’s 15th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition.

The President’s Commission on Campus Design and Environment, which chooses new sculptures to be installed at the University each spring, made the decision after a student brought forward concerns about Gandhi’s comments about Black Africans and women.

The student wrote, in part, “In this time of movements and stress, I do not think that this Gandhi statue will help.”

“The goal of the sculpture program is to add beauty to our campuses through one-year exhibits that rotate annually,” said Dr. Jonathan Bossenbroek, professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences and president of the President’s Commission on Campus Design and the Environment. “This is a critical example of why it is important to keep these conversations going and include a diversity of voices in decision-making. We are grateful to the student for bringing his concerns to our attention. We did not intend to be offensive, and we do not stand for that.”

The University also added students to the selection committee for future exhibitions.

The discussion will be moderated by Bossenbroek, with participants including:

  • Dr. Dale Snauwaert, professor of social and philosophical foundations of education and peace studies;
  • Dr. Rachel Dudley, assistant professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies;
  • Dr. Mysoon Rizk, professor of art history;
  • Riley Danford, UToledo student majoring in human resources who brought forward concerns to the University; and
  • Sanat Wagh, UToledo student majoring in finance and economics, and member of the International Student Association.

This is the eighth in a series of recent virtual Dialogues on Diversity since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis by a police officer, sparking protests against systemic racism across the country.

Panel Discussion to Explore Women’s Fight for the Vote Then and Now

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women will host a panel discussion on the history of women’s suffrage and the future of voter rights.

The “Women’s Fight for the Vote Then and Now” virtual event will take place 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24 on WebEx. RSVP by clicking Register Now button and completing the webform on the Eberly Center’s Suffrage webpage.

The discussion will explore women’s historical activism to prohibit sex and racial discrimination in voting the ratification of the 19th amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as women’s ongoing activism to protect voter rights today.

Panelists will include:
• Angela Siner, director of the Africana Studies Program;
• Dr. Chelsea Griffis, associate lecturer in the Department of History; and
• Maria Bruno, civic engagement coordinator and policy analyst at the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio.

Angela Fitzpatrick, director of the Eberly Center, will moderate the event.

For more information, contact the Eberly Center at 419.530.8570 or ecwomen@utoledo.edu.

UToledo to Observe Hispanic Heritage Month

The Office of Multicultural Student Success and the Latino Student Union will kick off Hispanic Heritage Month this week, focusing on virtual events that celebrate Hispanic culture and heritage. It’s part of a University-wide effort to highlight global culture.

“Although most of our events will be virtual, we look forward to connecting with people to learn and celebrate the different cultures highlighted through history and heritage months,” said Aleiah Jones, manager of the Office of Multicultural Student Success. “We kick things off with Hispanic Heritage Month and will be highlighting virtual events across the country to provide more opportunity for those who want to engage.”

Hispanic Heritage Month PosterThe signature event will be the Latino, Latina, Hispanic or Latinx? The Continuing Search for Self-Identity forum. Dr. Jorge Chinea, director of the Center for Latino/a & Latino American Studies at Wayne State University, will speak on the history of the term Latinx at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9 during the forum available via WebEx.

This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month festivities also include the annual “Viva Mexico” celebration. The event features music and dance performances, led this year by actor and director Roen Salinas. Salinas founded the AZTLAN Dance Company in Austin, Texas and works to promote greater cultural understanding through dance and other art. The livestream runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 and will be available on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter free of charge.

“And of course, there will be many more events happening throughout the month,” said Jones. “We invite anyone interested in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month to follow us on Instagram as we recognize Hispanic/Latino individuals who have made significant contributions to our society and share news about other things happening this month.”

Hispanic Heritage Month events also include:

• Thursday, Sept. 17 — 31st Annual Diamante Awards, 6-7:30 p.m., Zoom. Celebrate individuals and organizations for their achievements and service to Latinos in northwest Ohio. Registration is free via Eventbrite, but a $10 donation is recommended.

• Thursday, Sept. 24 — Netflix Watch Party: Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado, 5:30 p.m. Join OMSS program coordinator Aleiah Jones in watching this documentary about the life and career of Walter Mercado, one of the most important astrologists in Latin America and the world.

For additional information, and to RSVP for the online events, visit the Office of Multicultural Student Success website.

‘Police/Civilian Confrontations and Deaths’ Topic of Virtual Lecture Sept. 11

The University of Toledo College of Law is hosting a virtual event featuring a national expert on racial profiling after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May and the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha last month.

David A. Harris, the Sally Ann Semenko Chair and professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, will deliver a lecture titled “Police/Civilian Confrontations and Deaths: How Often? Why? What Can We Do?” from 11:50 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11 on Webex. Registration is required for the free, public event on the College of Law website.

“We are delighted to host Professor Harris to help us grapple with these difficult issues,” said Rob Salem, associate dean for diversity and inclusion and clinical professor of law at the UToledo College of Law. “We all have a responsibility to listen carefully and engage affirmatively in anti-racist efforts.”

David Harris

Harris taught at the UToledo College of Law from 1990 to 2007, where he was the Eugene N. Balk Professor of Law and Values.

Harris teaches, writes and speaks about the law, policing and the American criminal justice system. His research focuses on search and seizure law, police conduct, and the intersection of race and criminal justice.

For more than two decades, Harris has been the nation’s foremost expert on racial profiling. His research and publications became the basis for the first proposals in Congress to curb racial profiling and led to laws and regulations against profiling in more than half the states and hundreds of police departments.

Harris frequently works with national, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations across the country to improve the quality of police work, with a special emphasis on bridging the gap between police and the communities they serve.

He is the creator and host of the “Criminal Injustice” podcast, which is devoted to issues in the criminal justice system. Harris also is the author of several books, including “A City Divided: Race, Fear, and the Law in Police Confrontations,” which was published by Anthem Press in 2020.

In 2015, Harris received the Jefferson Award for Public Service for his work in Pittsburgh and other communities across the country to create better relationships between police and the communities they serve, particularly Black communities, to bring about both respectful, just policing and public safety.

UToledo Students Host Dialogue on Diversity to Discuss Black Lives Matter Movement

The University of Toledo is continuing its Dialogues on Diversity series with a conversation organized and hosted by students.

The next virtual town hall in the series titled “Black Students Matter: Finding Our Way in the Revolution” will take place 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3 and can be accessed on WebEx using the access code 172 033 9974. The meeting password is DoD7. Join by phone at 415.655.0002.

The discussion will be moderated by Emir Moore, UToledo graduate student in the Master of Business Administration program and graduate assistant for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, with participants including:

• Tulani Black, president of the Association for the Advancement of African American Women;

• Anthony Gennings, student trustee on the UToledo Board of Trustees;

• Dominga Grace, organizer of Toledo Together; and

• Nadia Shelton, president of the National Panhellenic Council.

“Since students are back on campus and settled into the fall semester, we thought that it was important to provide a platform for students’ voices to be heard,” Moore said. “This conversation will provide student leaders an opportunity to share their thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement and racial equity in our society and on our campus.”

This is the seventh in a series of recent virtual Dialogues on Diversity since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis by a police officer, sparking protests against systemic racism across the country.

 

Dialogue on Diversity to Address Impact of COVID-19 on Black and Brown Communities

The University of Toledo is continuing its Dialogues on Diversity series with a conversation on how the ongoing global pandemic is impacting underrepresented minorities.

The next virtual town hall in the series titled “The Impact of COVID-19 in Black and Brown Communities” will take place 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 23, and can be accessed on WebEx using the access code 303401. The event password is DoD4:COVID.

The discussion on the disparate impact of COVID-19 in African American and Hispanic communities and strategies to keep safe will be moderated by Dr. Sammy Spann, UToledo associate vice president and dean of students.

Participants will be:

• Dr. Brian Dolsey, ProMedica cardiologist;

• Gwen Gregory, director of nursing and health services at the Toledo Lucas County Health Department;

• Louis Guardiola, associate lecturer and assistant dean for diversity and inclusion in the UToledo College of Health and Human Services;

• Gabriel Lomeli, assistant director of undergraduate admission at UToledo;

• Jason Wanamaker, fourth-year medical student at UToledo; and

• Dr. Celia Williamson, UToledo Distinguished University Professor and director of the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute.

This is the fourth in a series of recent virtual Dialogues on Diversity following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota that sparked protests against systemic racism across the country.

UToledo is a community that celebrates and respects people of all backgrounds and experiences. As an institution, we remain committed to building an inclusive environment free of racism, sexism, bigotry and other negative influences.

UToledo to Host Virtual Roundtable Discussion June 25 After Death of George Floyd

As protests continue and calls for defunding police sound across the country, The University of Toledo is hosting its second campus conversation about the death of George Floyd.

The Dialogues on Diversity Virtual Town Hall series will continue Thursday, June 25, at 5:30 p.m. with “The Death of George Floyd: Where Do We Go From Here?” hosted jointly by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Africana Studies Program.

The free, public event can be accessed on WebEx using the access code 160 482 0630. The meeting password is maP4hKYQM32. Join by phone at 415.655.0002.

“Now that Mr. Floyd has been laid to rest, the protests are still strong and will continue, but we know they, too, will eventually fade from public consumption with the next big news cycle, and the anticipation of the murder trial of the four officers in a few months, what’s next,” said Angela Siner, director of the Africana Studies Program and moderator of the virtual town hall. “The year 2020 has been unprecedented with the COVID-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd and subsequent civil protests. These issues must be addressed individually and collectively for us and the nation to heal and move forward.”

Participants also will include:

• Dr. Shirley Green, UToledo adjunct professor of history and director of the Toledo Police Museum;

• Dr. Shingi Mavima, UToledo assistant professor of history;

• Dr. Michael Stauch, UToledo assistant professor of history;

• Dr. Dale Snauwaert, UToledo professor of social and philosophical foundations of education and peace studies, and co-coordinator of the peace studies minor in the Judith Herb College of Education; and

• Dr. Willie McKether, vice president for diversity and inclusion, and vice provost.

The University of Toledo is a community that celebrates and respects people of all backgrounds and experiences. As an institution, we remain committed to building an inclusive environment free of racism, sexism, bigotry and other negative influences.

UToledo Unites in Solidarity to Identify Solutions to Address Systemic Racial Injustice

The University of Toledo’s campus community united in solidarity and support Thursday evening for those affected by the killing of George Floyd.

The first Dialogues on Diversity Virtual Town Hall brought together University leadership, faculty, staff, students and the public to reflect on their experiences, identify solutions to address systemic racial injustice, and highlight campus and community resources to aid in coping with trauma.

“I am so pleased with the dynamic, meaningful ideas that resulted from our successful discussion,” Dr. Willie McKether, vice president for diversity and inclusion, said. “I appreciate the passion and motivation of our Rocket family and the support we have for each other. This is the beginning of a series of respectful, painful conversations in the coming weeks, including when the semester starts.”

More than 350 people attended the event that featured panelists:

• UToledo Police Chief Jeff Newton;

• Benjamin Davis, UToledo law professor;

• Dr. Monita Mungo, UToledo assistant professor of sociology;

• Dr. La Tasha Sullivan, director of the University Counseling Center;

• Nyah Kidd, president of the Black Student Union;

• Darren Gordon, former president of the UToledo chapter of the Student National Medical Association;

• Giselle Zelaya, president of the Latino Student Union;

• Nick Thompson, president of Student Government;

• Anjali Phadke, vice president of Student Government; and

• Asher Sovereign with the Sexuality and Gender Alliance.

Members of the campus community shared personal experiences and the great sadness and fear sparked by watching the video of George Floyd’s death.

“As a teen growing up in Mississippi, my parents would consistently remind my siblings and me when we would leave the house for fun or to hang out with our family and friends, ‘Remember we love you, but you must come home at night,’” Dr. Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell, vice president for student affairs and vice provost, said. “As I got older and started to experience racism, discrimination and prejudice firsthand, I began to understand the meaning of those powerful 11 words. In essence, my parents were saying, ‘Always obey the law and follow their instructions and rules. Do as you are told. Don’t argue.’ These past two weeks have been the most difficult weeks in my life. When will this behavior stop? Am I next? I’m at a loss for words.”

“As I reflect on the events of the last few weeks and our community discussion last evening, I am inspired by our students, faculty, staff and alumni for their commitment, perseverance and passion to change the world,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “Yet I grieve the recent senseless deaths of George Floyd and Breona Taylor. As a human and a mother, I cannot fathom the pain and anguish that their families are experiencing. Racial injustice, police brutality and disparate treatment have painfully existed for longer than all of us have been alive. As a campus community, we have made great strides to create a more open and inclusive community, working together to develop and implement UToledo’s first diversity plan. And yet it isn’t nearly enough. Now is the time to end this in our community, our country and in the world. I challenge each and every one of you to ‘be the change you want to see in the world.’”

Panelists brought forward ideas and solutions to elevate our community, such as training students in nonviolence and conflict transformation to teach them how to respond to what they will face while protesting by utilizing faculty expertise in the Peace Education Program, which is part of the Judith Herb College of Education.

“I am proud of the strength and courage of our students as they engage in deep, thoughtful, critical discussions and examine the ways we can change our society for the better,” Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said. “It is our solemn responsibility and our honor to equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to lead that change into the future.”

Leaders from across the University have expressed their commitment to embracing the critical role higher education can and must play in facilitating open and honest discussions that empower us as a community and a nation to translate our ideals into actionable change.

• Dr. Heidi Appel, dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College: “We believe in the power of higher education to address major societal problems like this injustice. We hope that by challenging our students to think deeply about the world they live in and to take actions that support greater diversity, equity and inclusion, we are helping to build a better world.”

• Dr. Anne Balazs, dean of the College of Business and Innovation: “It is with great sadness that we bear witness to the events of the past week, with the untimely and violent death of George Floyd and the continuing expressions of hatred and prejudice. As members of a scholarly community, one which is dedicated to education and improving our shared quality of life, it is unacceptable to idly stand by and allow racism in all its many forms to persist.”

• Benjamin Barros, dean of the College of Law: “The past week’s events have shown the realities of the work we must do as a nation to ensure that our justice system protects and serves all people. Our mission at the law school is intrinsically tied to the mission of equal access to justice. We are uniquely positioned to empower future generations of lawyers to evaluate our country’s legal systems, engage in thoughtful discourse, and address inequality. The change we need to see as a nation begins with each of us doing our part to create a diverse, supportive and inclusive community.”

• Dr. Amanda Bryant-Friedrich, dean of the College of Graduate Studies: “Life is heavy for all of us today. It has been that way for some of us for many, many days. First, a global pandemic and now violence and division dominate our news cycle. I am sad, I am afraid, and I am hopeful. I am sorry for your loss, I am sorry for your fear, I am sorry for your anger, I am sorry for the lack of justice, I am sorry there is no cure, and I am sorry that I am sorry. You are valued, and we hear you. We are here for you today and every day.”

• Beau Case, dean of University Libraries: “The University Libraries believe that diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility are not merely ideals — they are core values which we display daily in our work. Our campus doors are open to all. Our services are free of bias. We offer safe spaces for exploration, discovery, lifelong learning and wonder.”

• Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences: “From all appearances, he was neither protected with courage nor served with compassion. Now ‘I can’t breathe’ has become the rallying cry of protests locally and nationally, peaceful and violent. Lurking beneath this are the concerns and outrage of ongoing racism, systemic racism, institutional violence and failed inclusion. If we want to improve the world, we better start close to home with our region, our community and, most importantly, with ourselves.”

• Charlene Gilbert, dean of the College of Arts and Letters: “The peaceful protests occurring in many of our major cities and towns not only reflect the anger over the death of Mr. Floyd, but also represent years of frustration with the injustice and unequal treatment experienced by African Americans and people of color in communities all across this nation. The College of Arts and Letters is a community where we value and celebrate not only critical inquiry, but also thoughtful action. We want to thank every student, faculty member, staff person and alumnus who has participated in some form of action to add your voice to the many calling for justice.”

• Dr. John Laux, associate dean of student affairs in the College of Health and Human Services: “George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police officers is the latest example of violence perpetrated against African Americans. We honor George Floyd’s life, and those who were murdered or assaulted previously by focusing our attention on our society’s history of and ongoing racism and systemic social injustice by working collectively to be agents of change. The College of Health and Human Services trains students for careers in social service, health sciences and criminal justice, including police civil service. We recognize that we are a product of our society. The status quo is not acceptable. And, as such, we have work to do to root out and put an end to individual and institutional racism. We are committed to do the work necessary to be a part of the solution.”

• Dr. Linda Lewandowski, dean of the College of Nursing: “We know that long-term discrimination has negative effects on physical and mental health and that violence, discrimination and racism directly impact social determinants of health and result in health disparities and inequities. Given the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our African-American communities, the health impact of continued disparities is even more profound. As healthcare professionals, we are in a unique position to address the health and the social justice issues that are so pressing in our nation at this time. Change begins with each one of us and is reflected in how we treat each other on a daily basis.”

• Mike O’Brien, vice president and athletic director: “Last night’s dialogue was excellent as it was very informative and insightful. We must stand together and be committed for equity, diversity and the fight against racial injustice.”

• Dr. John Plenefisch, interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics: “The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics must translate the powerful words and feelings expressed by those protesting systemic racism into sustained action that makes a concrete difference in our community, including through our work and actions here in our college. As scientists and mathematicians, we can take action against racism, bigotry and prejudice in many ways, including choosing to focus our research on issues that disproportionally impact marginalized communities or groups, and deliberately supporting the careers and training of people of color as future generations of scientists and mathematicians.”

• Dr. Gary Pollack, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences: “Our obligation to our fellow human beings is not diminished by the color of their skin, or by how they express their spirituality, or by their country of origin, or by whom they happen to love. Those characteristics, which some voices emphasize in an attempt to divide us, are infinitesimal compared to the many things that make us what we are: the human family.”

• Dr. Mike Toole, dean of the College of Engineering: “I found each of the speakers and the entire event to be compelling and inspiring. It is critical that we have administrators, faculty and student leaders on campus who are speaking out to support the protests against racial injustice in our nation. Eliminating institutionalized racism, white privilege and racist violence will take many voices and much work.”

• Dr. Raymond Witte, dean of the Judith Herb College of Education: “We all want to feel safe when in the presence of the police. This will require time and honest dialogue because many, including myself now, don’t feel safe. I am now faced with the reality that police may not act impartially and without bias. To be honest, most of us are biased in some way. However, the decisions police make can have life and death outcomes.”

The next Dialogues on Diversity Virtual Roundtable is scheduled Thursday, June 25, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Access and panelist participation information will be released prior to the event, which is titled “The Death of George Floyd: Race and Anti-Blackness in America.”