President Nathan O. Hatch of Wake Forest University has announced efforts to address concerns involving race and inequity. There will also be a focus on history, including the University's relationship to slavery.
The President's Commission on Race, Equity and Community wants to draw awareness to issues brought up by students, faculty, and staff over the past few years. The University considers this a continuation of work that's already been in motion.
They've also announced the Committee on Slavery, Race and Memory. It initially started three years ago when the school joined a multi-institutional group looking at the legacy of slavery and universities.
Wake Forest University, founded decades before the Civil War, hopes this project will, “help us understand and acknowledge the role enslaved peoples had in building and growing our University.“
José Villalba is Wake Forest's Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer. He's hopeful that these projects will yield real change on campus.
He hopes the work will provide, “not only references or resources for the president to make policy changes, but also to have the kind of messaging and the kind of resources for students — particularly underrepresented students — that lets them say, ‘That's something that we didn't have on our campus a year ago or two years ago, and now we have something,'” Villalba says.
Earlier this year, attention was drawn to a 1982 yearbook photo that showed students posing in front of a Confederate flag including former Dean of Admissions Martha Allman. Villalba says while it may seem that the Memory Project is a direct reaction to that, he points out that the work has been going on for a number of years.