Dear SP2 Students and Alumni,
A group of students and alumni has circulated an open letter and petition addressed to me, our School community, and Penn leadership. On behalf of the SP2 administration, I wanted to let you know that we’ve seen it, we’ve read it, and we take it to heart.
Your message of demanding more from our School and its efforts around social justice and equity is crystal clear, and we agree – white supremacy has no room in our School, University, city, country, or world. Racism is unwelcome in our School. Police brutality and a lack of accountability within the systems they inhabit will not be tolerated. We need to do more as educators, and we recognize your demands for us to do more as community members. We are not ignoring this call to action and wish to work through the palpable pain, sadness, and anger with you.
It is imperative that we address each of the demands listed in your letter together, and continuously, with students, alumni, faculty, and staff at the table.
As Dean of SP2 for a little over a year and a half now, I have learned an incredible amount about the heart of SP2, and you, and I am far from done with what I believe we can accomplish as a more unified body in the pursuit of equity and justice. To that end—I am not stepping down from my role, and I am not stepping back from the challenging tasks before us. I am in this fight with you.
These labors cannot be completed overnight. The changes we all want to see will not come to fruition in a week. But solidarity through action—not just words—is what we are diligently working towards.
Of the things we have been and are currently collaborating on, we are committed to accomplishing the following items identified in your call to action:
- Restructuring courses to incorporate intersectional and anti-racist frameworks.
- Establishing common language and concepts in order to facilitate subsequent difficult conversations about race, racism, and difference in the classroom and beyond.
- Providing equitable resources and finding ways to reject the economic gaps that disproportionately impact Black people.
- Seeking out and discussing ways to provide more financial transparency.
- Continuing to recruit, admit, and provide financial resources to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who want to learn and grow at SP2.
- Recruiting more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to SP2’s faculty and staff.
- Creating more opportunities for us to heal together, virtually or otherwise.
- Exploring ways to enhance our community engagement and partnership efforts.
We are already working toward these goals. For example, we are actively recruiting more Black, Indigenous and People of Color to SP2’s faculty and staff. We have already increased fund raising for financial aid. Other initiatives that have been completed or are underway at SP2 include:
- Implementing the Action Plan created by Race and Social Justice Task Force
- Creating a standing committee on Race and Social Justice in AY 2020-2021
- Provided training on inclusive teaching for faculty
- Curriculum changes in the MSW American Racism and Social Change and HBSE courses
- Created a new position for Associate Dean of Inclusion
- New pre-matriculation online modules on Engaging Difference and Promoting Equity for incoming masters students
As an administration, we are moving swiftly to create safe spaces to continue our work to achieve these goals, as well as spaces to hear more from you about your ideas and concerns. I assure you that these spaces will be carefully designed for open, constructive, and fruitful dialogue to discuss how we can combat injustice and make our School more inclusive.
We do not have all of the answers and solutions to each of these significant demands at this very moment, but we found it imperative to inform you right away that they’ve been duly acknowledged, and are aligned with the future we would like to see at SP2.
Please stay in conversation with me, and with us as a School, as we determine what comes next and how we can get there together. We will stay in communication with you in the coming days and week, and we encourage you to stay in communication with us. Sincerely, we thank you and appreciate you.
Sara S. Bachman, Ph.D.