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Dear Rackham Students,

As we approach the final weeks of the term, I know you are all extremely busy with papers, projects, and exams. Some of you are looking ahead to your prelim or defense. Through your collaborative research and scholarship with faculty, as well as through your roles as graduate student instructors, you are central to the well-being of the university. I would like to take this moment to express that all of us at Rackham take your personal well-being to be just as important.

In addition to the demands and responsibilities of the academic year, this year has seen added causes of stress, harm, and distraction. All of us at Rackham have been impacted by such events in the national landscape as the travel ban, threats to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, proposed changes to the tax code, and more. I appreciate the efforts of students, faculty, and staff to keep the Rackham community informed, provide support, and coordinate with partners on campus and beyond to make sure our positions on these matters were heard. 

At the same time, here on campus, instances and reports of racism and bias this academic year—one as recently as last week—have formed a troubling, ongoing pattern. These acts have a compounding effect and run contrary to our values as well as our collective commitment to ensuring that Rackham continues to be a diverse, inclusive, welcoming, and safe environment in which to engage in the free inquiry and intellectual exchange that is our foundational mission. I recognize the pain that these kinds of acts cause, support those who have been harmed, and commit to using Rackham resources to promote greater equity and social justice on our campus.

As Rackham students, you have shown leadership as you engage with undergraduates in the classes you teach, advance equity and inclusion through your activism, and promote spaces for constructive dialogue around these important themes. Further, this year Rackham has sponsored nearly 30 workshops, trainings, and forums addressing issues of diversity, including A Space for Healing, Unconscious Bias in Everyday Life, and a two-part series on microaggressions.

We are committed to continuing to offer these opportunities for healing, dialogue, and learning, with multiple trainings and events already scheduled for the end of this term, as well as the spring and summer sessions. Our next DEI event will be a panel discussion of Tell Them We Are Rising, scheduled for Wednesday, March 28, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., in the Rackham Amphitheatre. I hope you can attend.

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you that there are substantial resources available for any of you feeling threatened, targeted, or overwhelmed. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers a range of ways for you to find support. In addition to services at their central location (Michigan Union, 3rd floor), CAPS has an embedded staff member, Dr. Laura Monschau, dedicated to working specifically with graduate students. On the Rackham website, you can find additional resources, including contact information for Rackham’s Resolution Officer, Darlene Ray-Johnson; details on where to report bias, discrimination, or harassment; and connections to various student communities.

We at Rackham acknowledge and appreciate the competing tensions that life as a graduate student can entail, particularly in such a complicated national and campus climate. And while we know that there is still a great deal of work yet to be done to advance DEI and social justice within our community, we are determined in our commitment to that work and to helping you, our students, to thrive in your studies and pursuits.

Sincerely,

Mike Solomon
Interim Dean

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