Graduate Student Association
The Graduate Student Association is a student-run organization serving and representing all graduate students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
The violence last week in Atlanta is not an isolated event. The murder of eight people, six of them being Asian women, is only the most recent example of this targeted violence. Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez, Paul Andre Michels, Chung Park, Hyun Grant, Suncha Kim, and Yong Ae Yue should be with us today, but they are not. This is not okay.
As a student-led organization, we want to express our solidarity with the AAAPI communities and those fighting for a more just, equitable society.
We want to follow up with the graduate student community regarding our previous commitment to creating a more anti-racist culture in the Graduate School and at UMB. We hope to be transparent and accountable with our progress while also confronting the reality that we have so much more to learn and to do. You can review our ongoing efforts here.
This event prompted us to reflect on our lack of action to support systemically marginalized communities until severe incidents of violence occur. While we aim to engage daily in anti-racism, our response is clearly reactive, despite many members of the UMB community experiencing the daily burden of racism.
To rectify this moving forward, we created a living resource document that includes support for impacted students and anti-oppression actions that students can continue to engage in. We hope that you will help to contribute to this document via this link.
It is our goal that the GSA can better serve the AAAPI students we represent.
Dear graduate student community,
Over the span of the past few weeks, the country has been forced to confront the uglier side of our history, institutions, society, and culture.
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery among countless other Black lives are only the most recent examples of our nation’s racism and institutionalized brutality.
Like many students, the Graduate Student Association executive board and department representatives have felt a great sense of pain, anger, and sadness as we have watched the escalation of violence across our nation.
These emotions are not new.
The Black community, particularly the Black community of Baltimore, has been experiencing the pain of racism since the city was founded.
As graduate students, we are aware of the role that science and research has played in the exploitation of the Black community which has resulted in a rightful distrust of academic research institutions.
Racism does not exist in a vacuum. As a student-led organization, we want to express our solidarity with Black lives and those fighting for a more just, equitable society.
Many graduate students have been committed to anti-racist work for years, while others are taking more recent steps to actively educate themselves. Recognition of racism is not enough. We must take action to create a Graduate School that is a safe and nurturing environment for all students.
As part of this commitment, we are taking the following steps:
- We will release a special issue of the Grad Gazette that will provide information on funding opportunities and wellness resources for Black students and other students of color. This issue will also include resources for those wanting education and opportunities to be involved in anti-racism and highlight anti-racism research on campus. Too often Black people are asked to carry the burden of anti-racism work alone for the benefit of non-Black people. We would, therefore, like to invite all graduate students to submit their perspectives on race and how to move toward a more just future using artwork, writing, or research with this form.
- By Spring 2021, GSA will work with our representatives to organize a GSA-sponsored anti-racism training for graduate students.
- We will ask UMB to additionally provide annual, required anti-racism training to faculty, staff, and students, aligned with the programming proposed by UMB Interim President Bruce Jarrell in the Social Justice Town Hall.
- We will request a UMB Town Hall to allow for open dialogue with Police Chief Cary about how UMB Police interacts with our Black students and the community.
- We will request that UMB and the Graduate School create a clear, accessible, transparent process for reporting discriminatory and racist behavior on campus.
- We will request that the Diversity Advisory Council appoint an additional student representative specifically from the Graduate School to advocate for issues surrounding diversity and inclusion that are unique to graduate students.
- We will request the Health Sciences and Human Services Library to purchase more copies of books and other literary resources by Black authors.
- In recognition of our responsibility to the Baltimore community, GSA commits to supporting local Black-owned restaurants and businesses for meetings and events.
We will explore other ways that GSA can use our platform and funds to support anti-racist efforts in Baltimore and the nation.
The graduate student community recognizes and understands the importance of immediate and continued action in support of the Black community and anti-racism. Please use this linked document to access links to petitions, donations, volunteering opportunities, and educational resources.
Although this document is not comprehensive, the hope is that it will be a living document that our entire graduate student community will contribute to. We welcome graduate student feedback on this statement and ideas on ways that we can better serve the graduate student community. If you are a graduate student and have ideas for action items not listed here, feedback, or additional resources to support these efforts, please submit them using this form.
There is no single statement or action that could fully repair the hurt and anger created by this nation’s oppressive systems and institutions. By taking these initial steps, we hope that the GSA can better serve the Black and non-Black students of color we represent.
June 8, 2020