Northwestern Faculty Senate passes resolution on death of George Floyd, talks policy changes in response to nationwide protests

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Daily file photo by Catherine Buchaniec

Evanston residents gathered Sunday afternoon to protest police brutality. Northwestern’s Faculty Senate passed a resolution Wednesday regarding the death of George Floyd and racial injustice.

Isabelle Sarraf, Development and Recruitment Editor

Northwestern’s Faculty Senate discussed Spring Quarter policy adjustments and passed a resolution regarding the death of George Floyd at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

Miriam Sherin, associate provost for undergraduate education, opened the meeting’s presentation by acknowledging how current events have informed new Spring Quarter policies. In light of nationwide demonstrations in response to racial injustices, she said the Office of the Provost has asked faculty for “flexibility and compassion” in these last couple weeks of the quarter.

“We have received lots of information and requests from students who’ve said they’re having trouble focusing on their academic work and really feel the need to be out demonstrating with their peers,” Sherin said.

Faculty have been encouraged, Sherin said, to provide clarity on whether students have completed sufficient work to pass by sharing current grades. She added that faculty should consider the use of alternative final assessments if appropriate for students and instructors.

Undergraduate and graduate students will now be allowed to withdraw from classes through the end of final exams, on June 13, Sherin said. Graduate students will also be allowed to select the P/NP grading option until June 8.

Feinberg Prof. Joshua Hauser, chair of the Social Responsibility Committee, introduced a resolution on the death of George Floyd that a majority of the Senate passed.

The resolution acknowledged the killing of Floyd by police officers and the international protests that have followed have again revealed the “deep wounds” of structural racism in American society. It also referred to the fact that these events have occurred in the shadow of a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted black and brown citizens.

“We are reminded once again that institutional silences about racism have been complicit with it,” Hauser said. “This time calls on all of us to think creatively and urgently about race, inequalities and justice in our community.”

As University faculty, the resolution notes that they have the opportunity to “facilitate awareness, sensitivity and learning” for students and for each other in the issues of race that have “historically undermined” the ideals of this society.

The Faculty Senate in passing this resolution committed to racial justice in their respective roles, striving to highlight and address issues of racial inequalities and racial injustice in each area of scholarship and work to challenge these realities in courses, research, writing and more. They also hold it upon themselves to consider the ways their personal privilege and power may perpetuate systemic inequalities and alternatively use those positions to promote racial justice and equity.

“Most fundamentally, we must listen with humility to students, colleagues, patients and families who are the victims of racism, engage in the necessary dialogues that require us to examine our own institution and advocate with passion for a community that reflects the values of equality and justice,” read the resolution.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @isabellesarraf

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