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Kent State establishes ‘Anti-Racism and Equity Institute’ to become an ‘exemplar in race scholarship’

University officials did not explain funding source or metrics

Kent State University has launched a new antiracism institute with the goal of becoming an “exemplar” of scholarship on race issues.

The Anti-Racism and Equity Institute will be “an important interdisciplinary hub for faculty, students, staff and community members engaged in race and anti-racism scholarship,” Eric Mansfield, a spokesperson for the university, said in an email to The College Fix.

It will also be a hub for university members involved in “activism and education.”

“The institute will also elevate Kent State to be an exemplar in race scholarship,” Mansfield said.

It will support “more than 100 faculty and staff and 10 colleges aligned with the institute’s mission,” according to the university’s news release, which contained the same or similar statements Mansfield shared with The Fix.

Mansfield did not answer questions from The College Fix about how long the public university had worked on the institute, metrics for success, or the amount and source of funding for the institute.

“The institute’s activities also will include a faculty fellows program, visiting professionals in residence, annual symposia and speaker events,” Mansfield said, as well as “graduate and undergraduate student scholarships, and a competitive seed grant program.”

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A dean at the university said the new institute is “very timely.”

“The creation of this institute is very timely,” Mandy Munro-Stasiuk told Kentwired, the university’s student paper. She spoke about her proposal at the March 8 faculty senate meeting.

The institute “acknowledges the history of Black events and organizations at Kent State while simultaneously addressing the contemporary manifestations of racism and other social inequities today,” the College of Arts and Sciences dean told the campus newspaper.

Munro-Sasiuk did not respond to two emailed requests for comment from The College Fix in the past two weeks that sought information metrics for success. Neither did Amoaba Gooden, the vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Libertarian student leader responds

At least one libertarian leader questioned the motives behind the institute but said she wanted to see what it ends up doing first before making further judgements.

“I believe that this new institute comes at an interesting time, and is likely the result of PR interests being met more than anything,” Alissa Atkeson said in an email to The College Fix.

Atkeson is a leader in the campus Young Americans for Liberty group. She made the comments personally and not on behalf of the club.

“However, that is not to say it is a negative occurrence,” Atkeson said. “I am simply interested to see what the new institute will seek to actively accomplish, or if it will turn into, like so many other things, a sort of victory in ‘Symbolic change,’ as Malcolm X once said.”

“I believe that Kent State has a racism problem,” Atkeson said, “in the same way that the culture at large has a racism problem, in that the outrageous events that we have seen are most probably perpetrated by a very visible minority of attention-seekers, the worst kind.”

“However, I am definitely not the best candidate to speak on the presence or lack of a racism problem being that I have never myself experienced it, and never will,” the libertarian student said.

MORE: Black Lives Matter professor to lead new anti-racism institute

IMAGE: DanielAllanWhite/Flickr

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About the Author
Esther Wermer -- Boyce College