This open letter was sent to The Crimson White’s Editor-in-Chief and Opinions Editor on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, by the United Campus Workers (UCW) of Alabama regarding the University’s response to student, staff and faculty concerns following the departure of Dr. Jamie Riley.
To the Administration of The University of Alabama,
As a collective of employees from across the University, we, the United Campus Workers of Alabama, affirm our support for the demands made by black students, staff, and faculty in recent weeks following the departure of Dr. Jamie Riley from the University. We recognize that building a more just and equitable University requires solidarity across college affiliation, department, pay grade, and rank. The current toxic environment on campus is an expression of enduring and systemic issues of racial injustice, grounded in the University’s antebellum origins, as well as intersecting problems of gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity, citizenship, and ability.
We share concerns with our students and colleagues about the University’s commitments to the social, material, and psychic flourishing of marginalized members of the community, the protection of academic and political speech, the transparency in its decision-making processes, and accountability to employee and student stakeholders. We endorse the demands for meaningful commitments to hiring and retention policies aimed at correcting the underrepresentation and unpaid labor of black faculty, staff, and students on this campus. We commit ourselves to solidarity with our fellow campus members who have repeatedly spoken out about these issues, often at great professional and personal peril.
As many have observed, the latest series of incidents roiling the University are just the most recent in a long history of struggles for racial justice both on campus and in the local community. The issues—as addressed, for example, by the Black Faculty and Staff Association’s open letter and the letter by Gender & Race Studies graduate students recently published in The Crimson White—are systemic. They require administrative remedies at the institutional level. Anything short of direct responses to the actionable demands repeatedly articulated by faculty and students would be a significant abdication of responsibility by the administration. It would, moreover, be to the great detriment of The University of Alabama’s ability to maintain current models of growth and funding for the foreseeable future, and therefore should concern all University employees whose livelihood is tied to the future of the University.
United Campus Workers urges President Bell and the administration of The University of Alabama to act with moral courage and intellectual honesty in addressing Dr. Riley’s resignation and the demands of the campus community.
United Campus Workers of Alabama