Community conversation “Belonging” with john a. powell, Oct. 22

Community conversation “Belonging” with john a. powell, Oct. 22

The City of DeKalb and Northern Illinois University present, “Belonging” a community conversation with Dr. john a. powell. It is a virtual conversation, from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, October 22.

john a powell

Dr. john a. powell

In January 2020, the NIU Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the City of DeKalb met to discuss how to bring their communities together and how all community members can feel a sense of inclusion and belonging in DeKalb. As a result, the two entities have worked together to hosting this city-wide and university-wide conversation on belonging with a national expert who has dedicated his academic and professional career to addressing racism, othering and how to build and unify communities around common principles of belonging.

“Belonging” is a discussion with internationally recognized scholar, Dr. john a. powell (Dr. powell spells his name in lowercase in the belief that we should be “part of the universe, not over it, as capitals signify.”) Registration is required to join the event at either www.cityofdekalb.com/belonging or go.niu.edu/belonging.

Dr. powell is currently professor of Law, professor of African American and Ethnic Studies, the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion and the director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, all at University of California, Berkeley.  He has written extensively on issues of structural or systemic racism; racial justice; concentrated poverty; urban sprawl; opportunity-based housing; voting rights; affirmative action in the United States, South Africa and Brazil; racial and ethnic identity; spirituality and social justice; and the needs of citizens in a democratic society.

Dr. powell was formerly the executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University and held the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Moritz College of Law. Dr. powell also founded and directed the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. He has served as director of Legal Services in Miami, Fla., and was the national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, where he was instrumental in developing educational adequacy theory.

 

June 18 Supreme Court Ruling on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program

June 18 Supreme Court Ruling on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

President Lisa FreemanI am writing today to let you know that I join many of you in appreciating today’s Supreme Court ruling blocking efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

This cause has been a priority for me from the earliest days of my presidency. I have listened to, and been moved by, the stories of our DACA students. They impress me with their strength and inspire me with their courage and resiliency. I have signed multiple letters and petitions put forth by my peers in higher education to secure rights for undocumented members of our community, and I have advocated on their behalf in meetings that I have had with members of Congress.

While there is more work to be done and uncertainties ahead, I want to be clear that NIU will continue to support all members of our community, regardless of their immigration status. We will continue working alongside them, fighting for their right to live, learn, work and contribute in the country that they have called home for nearly all of their lives.

Going forward, I urge all of those affected by or committed to this cause to familiarize yourself with the information and resources that our office of Undocumented Student Support has compiled. Take advantage of the guidance and knowledge available through our Cultural Resource Centers and the NIU Center for Student Assistance. Finally, I urge all who want their voices heard on this matter to engage with the student-led organization DREAM Action NIU to learn how to advocate with state and federal legislators.

As positive as today’s news is, this issue is far from resolved, and we remain committed to urging lawmakers to find a long-term legislative solution.

Together Forward,

Lisa C. Freeman
President

A message from Chief Diversity Officer Vernese Edghill-Walden

A message from Chief Diversity Officer Vernese Edghill-Walden

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled…the cry is always the same: ‘We want to be free.’

Vernese Edgehill-WaldenThese are words spoken by Martin Luther King Jr. more than five decades ago. And, as we have seen in recent weeks, the same rings true today as hundreds of thousands of people across the globe take a stand against racist systems that disproportionately impact Black and Brown communities.

I write this letter with a full heart after seeing the brutal murder of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and so many others whose lives have been unnecessarily cut short. It has taken me some time to put my feelings into words. I must admit, my heart carries the weight of repeatedly seeing Black men, women, and children killed at the hands of police officers. My heart is troubled because year after year I see those same officers escape accountability as they are protected by a badge and a U.S. justice system that continues to promote structural and systemic inequities.

I am the proud daughter, sister, wife, mom, aunt, cousin, and friend to Black men and women who love me, and more importantly, taught me how to love despite generations of systemic racism and the fear instilled in Blacks. It is through this lens that I take this moment of vulnerability to give voice to what I am feeling.

I have a young Black son. He is smart and curious and handsome. Strangers admire his quick wit. He is cute. My heart pumps with a love that I can’t describe for that young child. My entire being aches at the thought that one day, in the eyes of an unjust society, he will transition from being seen as a cute young child to a young Black man who poses a threat. One day, he may be a target. That hurts me to my core not just for my son, but for my husband, nephews, father, brother, cousins, colleagues, students and friends who face that same unfortunate reality.

To each of you who carry the weight of racial injustice, I want you to know you are not alone. I carry it too. But your resilience, creativity, determination, and passion embody what it means to be a Huskie. You come to NIU laser focused on finding the path to changing your life, your community, and the world. The future is yours to create. Don’t give up the fight! I remind myself of these same words each day. Stay focused on reaching your career goals and obtaining a college degree. It is one of the most meaningful indicators of social upward mobility and continues to be a substantially important tool of liberation. I am a living witness of this.

These last few weeks have been challenging but I can assure you that, here at NIU, our faculty, staff, and students want to be on the right side of justice. For all of you who have stood and marched in the name of justice, we see you and we are deeply grateful for your support. As MLK Jr.’s words suggest, we are rising up in mass and will rise out of this movement stronger.

President Freeman is calling on the entire campus community to reflect on what we value as Huskies, and as human beings, to make positive change. At NIU, we have had conversations about how our identities intersect and how our differences can be used to build a wholistic community. We have made significant strides and I am proud of the work that has been done. But we are not where we need to be. There are still very hard realities that we need to face – from distributing funds more equally to student organizations to recruiting more faculty and staff of color. I commit to you that ADEI will work with NIU’s senior leaders to take a long, hard look at areas where we need to improve. We will be honest and we will come up with plans that build better relationships.

But we can’t do it alone. We need all of you to join us as we dismantle systems and build an anti-racist community where everyone can thrive. Things will look differently at NIU going forward. I will share more specific details with you in the coming weeks.

Stay strong. Enjoy your summer and remember, we are Huskies! And, Huskies. Never. Quit!

Forward Together,

Vernese Edghill-Walden
Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Chief Diversity Officer
Interim Chief Human Resource Officer

Provost sends message to students on fall course delivery modalities

Provost sends message to students on fall course delivery modalities

NIU Executive Vice President and Provost Beth Ingram communicated to current and incoming students about the ways the university will be delivering courses for fall semester 2020.

Dear Undergraduate and Graduate Students,

I hope you are enjoying your summer. Here at NIU, our faculty have been busy planning your courses for the fall semester, and are eager to welcome you back to campus. Because the pandemic is still ongoing, we have had to adjust course-delivery methods for the fall semester. Most of those changes have now been made, and I encourage you to look closely at your course schedule in MyNIU.

If you have questions, want to make changes to your schedule or haven’t yet registered for your fall courses, please seek guidance right away from your advisors.
They’ll be able to answer your questions and help you make scheduling adjustments, if needed.

While the academic calendar for the fall is unchanged, the course-delivery modifications that we’ve made are guided by our top priority—the health and safety of our NIU community. To provide a safe and engaging learning environment that respects physical distancing, we will offer a mix of fully online, face-to-face and hybrid courses when classes begin Monday, Aug. 24.

Course delivery
Regardless of the way the course is offered, we’re intent on delivering the same high-quality academic experience you expect from NIU. Our faculty are committed to helping students learn, succeed and stay on target for their planned graduation dates.

So, what will your courses look like?

  • Online courses – Fully online courses are being designed with careful planning to be flexible and to foster a sense of community so that students are not learning on their own. In these courses, you might experience live conferencing and lectures; recorded content with no required meeting; or some combination of the two. In all cases, students and their professors will have an active presence in the virtual classroom.
  • Face-to-face courses – These courses will be like what you’ve experienced in the past. Courses selected to be face-to-face—including laboratory classes and clinicals—require personal interactions, and the class sizes are small enough, or the academic spaces large enough, to maintain proper physical distancing.
  • Hybrid courses – In hybrid courses, your learning experience will include both online and face-to-face interactions. For example, a science or engineering course might have online lessons with regular hands-on laboratory experiences.

In all cases during the semester where face-to-face interactions will take place, classrooms and academic spaces on campus will be disinfected before students and professors meet. NIU will follow federal, state and local public health guidance and expect students and faculty to follow recommendations for physical distancing, hand hygiene and face covering. Our plan also allows for a smooth transition to completely online teaching and learning should the need arise during the semester.

Committed to your success
The summer months provide us with time to carefully plan for the fall. I assure you that we’re making the most of that time. The plan I’ve outlined here builds upon what we learned this past spring—and on student feedback. Since the pandemic began, many NIU faculty members have attended workshops and training sessions to sharpen their online- and hybrid-teaching skills, and training sessions continue this summer.

Their efforts speak to how deeply they care about your success. While the start of the fall semester will be different from the past, all of us are committed to making sure that it’s personalized, fun, engaging and inclusive.

Still time to register
Your time at NIU has been a wise investment—in yourself. And we’re here to help you stay on track to earn your degree and graduate on time. Again, if you have not yet registered or need to adjust your fall course schedule, I urge you to seek assistance from your advisor. 

Students who might be eligible for disability-related exam or course accommodations are urged to contact the Disability Resource Center as soon as possible at drc@niu.edu. If you are in need of non-academic resources, contact the Student Assistance Center at studentassistance@niu.edu.

Additionally, we will continue to keep you updated this summer on important information as it develops. Look for a communication next week related to on-campus housing.

Finally, I’m reminded of three words that have come to define our community spirit: Huskies. Never. Quit. During these uncertain times, I congratulate you for having pressed on. Now, more than ever, it’s important to continue your academic journey. Our NIU community is here to support you every step of the way.

Sincerely,

Beth Ingram
Executive Vice President and Provost