Is USM really “The University of Everyone”?
In May 2019 the outgoing Dean of Maine Law told the Portland Press Herald she encountered ongoing racism and sexism at USM.
Less than a three weeks later, USM hired a tenure-track professor who in her last professional role was accused of racial discrimination. The accusations made statewide news, caused a public outcry, and remained unresolved at the time of the hire. Indeed, two investigations into the allegations remained open when USM made its job offer.
Upon learning of the hire, a group of USM students submitted a letter to university officials requesting the job offer be put on hold, citing USM’s failure to recognize the needs of its students and the institution’s role in perpetuating structural racism.
The request, while considered, was not honored.
Read the Headlines
As USM students, we deem this situation unacceptable. Any USM hiring process must weigh heavily unresolved accusations of racial discrimination. Furthermore, it should not fall to students to bring obvious racism concerns to light for university administrators and leadership. It is the responsibility of USM to consider these issues proactively, and provide a safe and inviting space for all students. In this instance USM fell short.
This situation lays bare a sad truth: Structural racism is an everyday part of USM. This hire serves as a striking example, but one person is not the problem.
USM is a Historically White Institution. It was designed by white people to educate white people.
USM students today are incredibly diverse.
To meet our needs, the university must change.
We Are Reimagining USM
Who Are We
We are a group of USM undergraduate, graduate and PhD students dedicated to making USM “The University of Everyone” it promised to be. We work in partnership with staff and faculty who are dedicated to an equitable vision of USM, to make structural changes at USM.
What Do We Do
We activate student voices to push USM administrators, faculty, staff and fellow students to recognize the embedded white male supremacy in the institution. And once that structural reality is identified, we work with those same partners to build something new. Something that welcomes, celebrates and includes students from all identities, abilities, races, ethnicities, religions, economic statuses and sexual orientations.
Why We Do It
The University of Southern Maine is a tremendous resource — affordable, accessible, and local. But to fully serve every student it must reflect the values of a diverse population. USM promises to be a welcoming institution, but white male supremacy is incompatible with those values. We demand change for ourselves, and for every student considering USM.
Does this work resonate with you? Do you also see a need for change at USM? Do you wonder how to make it happen?
Spring Semester meetings will be announce in the New Year.
All are welcome to attend.