Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly named a CU Boulder adjunct professor. Their name has since been corrected.
Two graduate students from the University of Colorado Boulder released a “shadow report” alleging a hostile environment around race within the university’s School of Education.
The report started circulating across campus and nationally on Monday, Sept. 18, serving as a virtual “town hall” for community members to discuss the departure of four female faculty of color from the School of Education. The authors detailed a list of 12 demands, including a written apology to the women of color faculty, financial reimbursement to faculty of color for their time and effort and alterations to the grading systems to reduce unequal outcomes.
The release was called a shadow report as it presents “alternative framings to what an conventionally authoritative entity might submit for their own protection,” according to its authors Karia White and an anonymous author, both Black graduate students in the School of Education. White did not respond to a request for comment.
The authors stated that they had interviewed the faculty members in question; however, they chose to keep their identities private to protect their stories.
“The systematic bullying, denigration, and surveillance of Women of Color faculty, and Black women faculty, in particular, was excessive, obvious and undeniable,” the authors said in the report.
By the summer of 2023, four women of color in tenure-track faculty positions had left the School of Education. The report stated that these women had been “pushed out” through various microaggressions and other abuses. Among the alleged abuses listed in the report were public attacks on the faculty and their scholarships, surveillance of personal social media accounts and inappropriate comments towards women of color made by peers.
“We appreciate the work that these graduate students did for this report to call out the challenges around anti-racism in our school and university,” said the dean of the School of Education, Kathy Schultz. “We all know that institutions of higher education have legacies of racism, and we at CU Boulder and in the School of Education are no exception.”
However, this is not the first time the School of Education has received a list of demands from students regarding issues of racism. In June 2020, a group of doctoral students known as the Students of Color Caucus sent a letter to Schultz asking for similar support.
Schultz said that most of those demands had been met, but they were still a work in progress. Among those demands was a request for “culturally relevant coursework” and the expansion of course offerings that amplified the interests and voices of students of color. The shadow report, however, claimed “forced removal” of such courses based in Black, Indigenous and Asian scholarship.
“Our campus at large — the institution — is taking this challenge very seriously,” said Nicole Mueksch, a CU Boulder spokesperson. She mentioned the university’s diversity plan, known as the IDEA plan, which includes goals to improve campus climate, infrastructure and leadership around diversity as advised by the IDEA Council. She did not provide details on how the IDEA Council will address the demands listed in the shadow report.
A written statement from a CU Boulder spokesperson added, “CU Boulder continues to support initiatives that promote greater collaboration across the campus to eliminate these barriers and better promote true inclusivity on campus.”
Regarding the exit interviews with some of the women of color faculty, Schultz said, “We listened closely to the reasons that the faculty stated that they left, and so we’ve developed a set of policies and practices to respond to them.”
The policies Schultz listed included improvement of faculty support and workload distribution, which the report said disproportionately fell on women of color. The report said that solutions did not lie in the formation of new committees, appointments, or town halls by the School of Education but rather in “the serious regard and critical engagement of our responsibilities in what has transpired.”
United Mexican American Students y MECHA, a Chicanx and Latinx student group on campus, released a statement on social media last Wednesday saying, “We uplift and stand in solidarity with the 4 women of color who have been forced away from the university against their wishes and best interests.”
em irvin, an adjunct professor of Women and Gender Studies at CU Boulder, signed the document, writing, “Women of Color staff and faculty who I worked closely with were consistently over-worked and under-compensated for that work as compared to others in similar positions. The active and violent targeting of students, staff, and faculty at CU is an ongoing occurrence, which has been met with empty policies and promises to correct such issues, evident in this document.”
Other individuals who signed the document mentioned encounters with microaggressions and systematic oppression of faculty of color.
“The first step of the University administration must be meeting the demands outlined in the Shadow Report. CU is being given a generous opportunity to address the institutional failings it has allowed to fester,” wrote Eleanore Tisch, a CU Boulder alum from the School of Education.
The authors are keeping a live document for anyone who would like to sign in solidarity with the report and express support.
“We imagine that the School Education would favor a swift remedy in the amelioration of this Shadow Report,” wrote the report authors, “however no construction of time in a linear framework is sufficient in corralling the immense violence, degradation and abuse that is [wreaking] havoc on specifically Black, Native and Asian women faculty.”
Contact CU Independent breaking news editor Ann Marie Vanderveen at email@example.com.