New Center for Racial Equity Announced

President Carmen Twillie Ambar announced the creation of a new Center for Race, Equity, and Inclusion this Wednesday as part of an update to her Presidential Initiative on Racial Equity and Diversity. The center is the first of several coming changes that will likely be announced in spring 2022.

Along with announcing the new center, President Ambar stated that she had received a set of recommendations from the Presidential Initiative as well as the results from students’ participation in the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates. These recommendations and results will be incorporated into a wider campus discussion of white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and gender inequality.

The Presidential Initiative was created in the wake of national protests against police brutality, white supremacy, and anti-Black racism following the murder of George Floyd Jr., Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, among many others. The Presidential Initiative created a commission of 21 members of faculty, staff, and students who discussed and recommended reforms to the College’s current policies and practices.

The creation of the Center for Race, Equity, and Inclusion will immediately address President Ambar’s recommendation that the College creates opportunities for students to apply their learning to current issues of race.

“This new center will ensure that Oberlin is consistently contributing to the national conversation on race,” President Ambar wrote in an email announcement. “The center will bring together academic opportunities, co-curricular experiences, career programming, mentorship, community building, and civic engagement.”

Though the College has received $1.3 million from donors in support for the Presidential Initiative, the infrastructure for this new center, including the hiring of an executive director and support staff, must be further developed and funded. However, according to Michael Grzesiak, vice president for advancement, raising money for the center should not be a problem.

“We are in the process right now of determining the full scope of the center and what we’ll need philanthropically to achieve those goals,” Grzesiak wrote in an email to the Review. “We’re confident that the alumni and friends of Oberlin will be very interested and supportive in making this vital work a reality.”

In her announcement, President Ambar also stated that the Presidential Initiative’s recommendations and takeaways from the survey will be incorporated into a campus-wide conversation this spring.

“My next steps are to analyze the survey results and review them with key members of the Presidential Initiative, the General Faculty Council, and key administrators,” she wrote.