In May of this year, our nation watched in anguish as Minneapolis police officers cruelly and brutally took the life of yet another unarmed Black man, George Floyd. His death catalyzed a historic and sweeping call for racial justice, as people of all backgrounds took to the streets in the largest mass protest movement in the history of the United States.
In the national conversation, widespread disgust over Floyd’s killing soon turned to a thornier and more complex question: How should our society acknowledge, counter and make amends for long-standing racism targeting Black Americans and other people of color? From small towns to major cities, corporations to nonprofits, media conglomerates to religious organizations, institutions at every level were pushed to think deeply about their troubled histories and contemporary responsibilities.
UCLA is one of those institutions. To be sure, we are proud of the contributions and achievements of generations of Black Bruins, and we have taken significant steps to combat bias and discrimination on our campus. But over the past several months, members of my administration and I have had honest and at times difficult conversations with faculty, staff and students. Those dialogues have made it clear that we have much more work to do to make UCLA the inclusive, equitable and supportive campus for Black community members that we wish it to be.
This summer, we announced a host of changes aimed at helping us get there. One of the most important of these is the formation of a major Public Safety Advisory Council that will help us holistically assess our campus safety operations to ensure that they are free from racism, bias and discrimination. Looking more broadly at the Black experience at UCLA, we announced the creation of a Black Student Resource Center on campus, the launch of new summer graduate fellowship awards and postdoctoral awards for research on Black issues, and a push to recruit 10 faculty members over the next five years whose scholarly work addresses aspects of Black life, among other initiatives. Additional actions will be announced later this year.
Just as UCLA’s professors — including some of the most respected scholars of racial inequality — are helping our nation make sense of its past and its obligations in the present, so too will we continue to take a hard look at how UCLA can better fulfill its commitment to welcoming, supporting and protecting all members of our community. We will continue to champion the change that is needed to move our campus to a place of true equity, where we honor our deepest values and fulfill our highest aspirations as a public university.