Brown University Pledges $100M to Enhance Diversity, Inclusion Efforts

In response to student protests that took place across campus early last month, Brown University recently unveiled a 10-year $100 million plan to boost diversity and inclusion efforts at the private Ivy League research university in Rhode Island.

Outlined in a 19-page report, titled Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University, the plan focuses on increasing and improving financial support, mentoring, and other resources for low-income and LGBTQ students, and those from historically underrepresented groups.

Other actions outlined in the report include doubling the number of faculty members, as well as graduate students, from underrepresented minorities; promoting university-wide research and academic programming on structural racism; and improving training for public safety officers, among others.

President Christina H. Paxson says her intention with the pledge is to create “a just and inclusive campus.”

Furthermore, in a letter to the campus community after the university’s announcement, Paxson wrote: “The deep pain that we have heard expressed by students of color in the past weeks and months — a pain that has been affirmed by faculty and staff members who work closely with and care deeply about our students — is very real. We value our students of color and are grateful to them, and those working with them, for calling attention to actions needed to address racism and injustice on our campus.”

The unveiling of the plan follows a suspected assault, in November, of a student visiting Brown for a Latino Ivy League conference by a university security officer, which spurred on-campus protests.

Student protestors have expressed frustration with campus life and say the university has done nothing to address their grievances.

Paxson, however, said in a statement that this plan is “not the first Brown has developed on issues of diversity and inclusion.”

And some faculty, like Glenn Loury, a professor of economics at Brown, argue that students’ depiction of the university is contrary to his own experience.

In a recent Facebook post, Loury — who is African American — wrote: “I have found the university to be an extremely warm, welcoming, supportive, and open environment to undertake my work. I know well the people who run this institution, and the notion that they are racially insensitive is a shameful slander with no basis in fact.”

Paxson is welcoming comments on the report and proposals for change until December 4.