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Green announces first steps in UNL's anti-racism 'journey'
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Green announces first steps in UNL's anti-racism 'journey'

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UNL Unity rally

University of Nebraska students, faculty and staff wear shirts with the message "Hate Will Never Win" during a 2018 rally in the Coliseum to promote unity on campus following outrage about a white nationalist student on the UNL campus.

About a month after promising sustainable change in combating racism, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green on Tuesday announced the first steps the university will take to address the issue.

Green called on UNL to take action beyond dialogues and slogans following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in late May, which led to widespread protests across the United States, including in Lincoln.

"It is important to see this journey and the work of anti-racism as an ongoing process; and more importantly, as a step for us to have greater accountability and a sustained focus as an institution that serves our state and beyond," Green wrote to the UNL campus.

UNL faculty call for university to reexamine relationship with outside police forces

On Tuesday, the chancellor identified five faculty members who will work with Marco Barker, UNL's inaugural vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, in "developing and facilitating opportunities to learn about racism" at UNL and in the community beyond.

Those members are:

* Lory J. Dance, associate professor of sociology and ethnic studies;

* Kwame Dawes, professor of English and editor of the Prairie Schooner magazine;

* Anna W. Shavers, professor of citizenship law and associate dean for diversity and inclusion;

* Kara Mitchell Viesca, associate professor of teaching, learning and teacher education;

* Sergio C. Wals, associate professor of political science and ethnic studies.

UNL Chancellor Green: 'Future must be about action' in addressing racism, inequality

The committee will also be responsible for reviewing racial disparities at UNL and proposing policy changes to address them, work with other faculty to develop conversations on anti-racism and racial equity, and connect others to the efforts at UNL.

Green also said UNL will begin to examine how its curriculum addresses race, privilege and power and will start on development of a "more transparent process" for addressing climate issues that impede participation for some at UNL based on their identity.

UNL is also planning efforts to improve the recruitment and retention of faculty from more diverse backgrounds; a review of the names of buildings and structures on campus; as well as its policing approaches and relationships.

"These actions are the first steps of what I anticipate as multiple steps in addressing racial equity in our institution and the many concerns expressed by members of our campus community," Green said.

Protesters describe being shot, gassed during Black Lives Matter rallies in Lincoln

In June, faculty from UNL's African and African American Studies program called on the university to reevaluate its relationship with the Lincoln Police Department and the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office, following protests that turned violent.

Green challenged UNL to join him in a journey to "build a stronger and better future for all."

"We can only make meaningful and sustained change by all of us working together," he said.

Photos, videos: Protests in Lincoln

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS

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