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Public university won’t provide budget or details for its new ‘Anti-Racism Institute’

School’s president pushed for initiative

Shippensburg University recently announced that it plans to open a new “Anti-Racism Institute” on campus.

The public university in Pennsylvania announced the new institute on September 24. Though it already has recruited several of its professors to work at the institute, the school has no written budget yet nor any metrics or goals that it would share.

“The Anti-Racism Institute (ARI) at Shippensburg University is focused on one primary goal,” the school’s news release said. It aims “to facilitate student engagement, scholarly research, and academic enrichment regarding the subject of race.”

While the institute has a framework, university officials would not disclose to The College Fix what metrics the anti-racism center would use and how much money it plans to spend on the new initiative.

“With these goals clearly defined, the institute will next focus on building the framework needed to ensure the long-term success of the institute,” Megan Silverstrim, a spokesperson for the school, told The Fix via email.

“This includes budget and resource forecasting, implementation planning and creating a network of community support and partnerships,” Silverstrim said.

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When pressed for specifics, she said “the work is just beginning on developing the institute,” which includes creating budgets and said “those items will be made public and I can reach back out with you to share them” when the forecasting and other planning is complete.

Silverstrim gave no timeline for the completion of the work and no official material put out by the university has contained tangible budget estimates, though Fox 43 reported that it planned to complete the institute by Fall 2021.

Professors recruited to work at the institute were equally quiet on what they had planned.

None of the four professors listed in the news release as working at the institute responded to multiplied emailed requests for comment from The Fix in the past week.

Shippensburg University is fully behind the new institute, as the idea initially came from the university’s own president, Laurie Carter, according to Fox 43.

Fox 43 compared the institute to the Frederick Douglass Institute at West Chester University, another public university in Pennsylvania.

But that center doesn’t explicitly describe itself as an anti-racist program and appears to primarily focus on a literacy initiative in elementary schools, teaching opportunities and playing host to presentations on different diversity-related topics.

The school’s announcement detailed some general goals such as training the next generation of leaders on racial issues.

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Jamonn Campbell, a Shippensburg psychology professor, said in the news release that “sustained and coordinated action can finally bring an end to racist attitudes, behaviors, and policies” which “have plagued our nation from its inception.”

She said the Anti-Racism Institute “will support and educate a new generation of anti-racist educators, scholars, and activists.”

Stephanie Jirard, the institution’s chief diversity officer and a criminal justice professor, will participate in the institute.

Jirard is particularly active in race matters on campus, releasing a webinar focused on talking about race and racism in the classroom. She also is involved with race movements like the recent Scholar Strike.

The anti-racism efforts follow a summer of protests on campus, including a kneel-in protests by hundreds in early June following the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed it across the country.

Stephanie Jirard spoke at the June rally and stated the school’s support for Black Lives Matter, according to The Sentinel.

Several rallies in August followed an alleged incident of racism when someone allegedly wrote the “n-word” on a board in a residence hall, according to the Sentinel.

MORE: Twitter founder gives $10 million to university center that promotes anti-white discrimination

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About the Author
Adam Burnett - Illinois State University