Reckoning With Racism at NYU Silver

The following message was sent to the NYU Silver Community from Dean Neil B. Guterman, Associate Dean of Student Affairs Courtney O'Mealley, and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs James I. Martin:

On Tuesday afternoon, the Silver School became aware of an incident in which a student received an email from a peer in his class that expressed racism against a Black student.

No student should experience racism or otherwise be made to feel unwelcome here at NYU Silver. It is antithetical to our School and the social work profession. We are deeply sorry when we hear that students have experienced exclusion and bias when we should instead be hearing of inclusive, educationally uplifting, and supportive experiences.

When we became aware of this incident, the School’s Associate Dean of Student Affairs reached out to the student who received the email to learn more about what happened and offer support. The School’s Dean has also been in contact with that student, and the Associate Dean of Student Affairs has been in communication with the student who sent the email. Both students involved in the email exchange indicated their desire to resolve the issues in the class, and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs is working with the Chair of Practice and the instructor of the course to promote productive and restorative dialogue.

We recognize that this incident took place in a broader context of ongoing institutional racism at Silver, especially in classrooms. Notwithstanding efforts to actively address these issues, we clearly have significant work yet ahead. Addressing matters of racism, bias, and social exclusion require firm commitment and collective efforts of us all, and this work must be ongoing. As social workers we must continually examine our own biases as well as the social systems that perpetuate racism and other forms of discrimination and marginalization. In the wake of this painful incident, it is our hope that we will find an opportunity for self-reflection, learning, and professional and institutional growth.

Our Social Justice Praxis committee - comprised of students, faculty, and staff - will share an update next Friday, February 22, highlighting the work done so far, the specific resources and support for initiatives already in development, the steps taken to address last spring's student letter/call to action, and the areas where we know we need to push harder.

The Dean, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, along with the Executive Committee of the Faculty, will engage the full faculty in a conversation at the next faculty meeting with the goal of producing a collective statement of commitment to intensive work on teaching and learning around issues of equity, inclusion, and belonging at Silver. The School has already secured an external consultant to aid us in our work; his first visit with us will be in late February.

We have heard directly from students through past forums, climate surveys, the aforementioned student letter, and individual outreach. As we continue to engage in a solution-focused direction, all of us in the School's leadership are interested in continuing to hear about your experiences and are fully committed to this ongoing work.