Highlights from the Sweetland Anti-Racist Task Force

Like other Sweetland committees, the Sweetland Anti-Racist Task Force continued to meet online in 2021. Our primary focus was to finalize revisions to our student-facing webpages and appointment email language to make them more consistent, transparent, and inclusive. Many of these changes were at the level of individual words or phrases – changing imperatives to requests or adding language explaining the reason behind a policy. One more thoroughgoing policy change involved our decision to no longer require documentation from Services for Students with Disabilities for students to inform us of their access needs, knowing the financial and emotional barriers to this process for many students. Our new language reads:

If you are disabled or differently abled, please let us know what you may need to have an effective Writing Workshop consultation. It would help us greatly if you give us advance notice by emailing sweetlandww@umich.edu about any steps we could take to make this consultation fully accessible for you.

Working in collaborative Google Docs to revise this language was an effective process online, and our Zoom meetings were often highly text focused. The more social aspects of our meetings, when we discussed a reading, for example, were also augmented by our ability easily to share resource links in the chat or offer ideas adjacent to the main discussion taking place. While we miss the lunches we could have together in person, we have repurposed our nominal funding to buy books, instead. We’re currently reading Bettina Love’s We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom. Continuing this remote work together, five of us will attend the ERACCE (Eliminating Racism and Creating/Celebrating Equity) Online Understanding and Analyzing Systemic Racism Workshop over six afternoons in May, and we look forward to sharing our learning with Sweetland faculty and staff next fall – perhaps in person!

Naomi Silver
Lecturer, Sweetland Center for Writing