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College creating anti-racist action plan

By Lauren Cahoon Roberts

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In response to unjust killings of Black people in America and in solidarity with the national movement to end racial injustice, the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is developing an anti-racist action plan for its community.

This effort builds on ongoing efforts to foster diversity and inclusion. These include diverse recruitment efforts; establishing diversity as a priority in the college’s strategic five-year plan; the Many Voices, One College community gatherings; the Diversity Dialogue speaker series; the Program for Achieving Career Excellence, which promotes underrepresented minorities’ success in biomedical research; and more.

Lorin D. Warnick, D.V.M., Ph.D. ’94, Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine, noted the importance of redoubling efforts toward anti-racism at the college. “We must continue to strengthen our programs to educate our entire community on diversity and inclusion issues,” he said. “We must also continue fostering of a diverse college community through recruiting people of all backgrounds and cultures in both hiring and student admissions. And we must make sure that our day-to-day actions, thoughts, institutional norms and systems reflect these values we espouse.”

The CVM community has echoed this sentiment. In a letter sent on July 16 from Black CVM students and alumni to Warnick, the authors said, “It is important that Cornell CVM is a leader in combating issues such as systemic racism and oppression. Only through introspection and exploring uncomfortable topics can we really grow as a community in support of diversity and inclusion.”

As described by Ibram X. Kendi in “How to be an Anti-Racist,” anti-racism requires an active, diligent approach to combating racism, rather a passive approach of being “non-racist.”

To take anti-racism action, the CVM Belonging at Cornell Committee, a group of 35 members comprising students, staff and faculty, college leadership held virtual town halls and sent surveys to the entire community to gather ideas on fostering anti-racism at the college.

Thanks to the community’s input, the anti-racism plan is already under development and will be presented to the public in the coming months. “Our college has made progress in developing programs to promote diversity and inclusion,” said Warnick. “However, there remains much more work to be done, and I look forward to working with our community to achieve these goals.”