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Duke to incorporate ‘anti-racism’ throughout curriculum, require anti-bias training for everyone

President suggests it will aggressively poach from HBCUs

Duke University has a new defining principle: “anti-racism.”

In a Wednesday evening email to the community, President Vincent Price (not to be confused with The Master of Horror) previewed the private university’s response to the upcoming Juneteenth holiday that commemorates the practical freeing of the slaves in Texas.

Price announced a staggering reorganization of the university’s academic and administrative programs around “eliminating the systems of racism and inequality that have shaped the lived experiences of too many members of the Duke community.”

Not only will it “significantly and measurably expand the diversity of our faculty, staff, and students, with particular focus on Black, Indigenous and people of color” (an ethnic triad Price used four times), but Duke will “incorporate anti-racism into our curricula and programs across the university.”

Every Duke student, at every level, will learn about “the nature of structural racism and inequity, with special focus on our own regional and institutional legacies.”

The university will “assess and remediate systemic biases in the design of our curricula” and “fully mobilize and expand Duke’s research capacity to address and help overturn racism and reduce racial disparities and inequities in policing, justice, health, housing, education, labor, and other domains of life,” Price declared.

MORE: ‘Antiracism’ means equal outcomes among racial groups

The community is shouldering much of this burden in the form of “anti-racism and anti-bias training for every member of our faculty, student body, and staff,” while the administration will continually poll the community on “our progress in addressing bias and promoting respect, meaningful inclusion, and true equity in our community,” the president wrote.

Despite the “Black, indigenous and people of color” triad, Price made clear the impetus for these changes was the experience of black students, faculty and staff. The university will highlight “Black excellence” – but not the excellence of indigenous or people of color – “throughout the campus community and increase the visibility of Black scholars, students, staff, and alumni.”

In a move that could cause alarm among historically black colleges and universities, Price suggested Duke would aggressively poach their students through “an expanded pipeline for transfer, graduate, and professional applications” from HBCUs.

Lest anyone think Price was finished, he told the community that his decrees were “only a starting point”:

Righting the wrongs of history will take time, and our efforts will need to be focused and sustained. We must also be far clearer about our goals and transparent as we work toward them.

Senior leaders and deans of each school have been ordered to turn in a “preliminary implementation proposal” by Sept. 1. Price will update the community again by Oct. 15.

MORE: University closes anti-racism exhibit for racism

MORE: National Anti-Racism Teach-in coming this August

IMAGE: CLS Digital Arts / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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