Social Justice and Antiracism Statement
The University Writing Center is dedicated to creating a safe, inclusive, and antiracist environment. We acknowledge the material reality of race and racism and recognize that the racist conditions of our society are not simply a matter of bias or prejudice that some people hold but rather the normal condition of things. We recognize that racism is pervasive in the systems, structures, rules, languages, expectations, practices, and guidelines that make up our classes, schools, and society. We acknowledge that racism can be unconscious or unintentional, and that identifying racism as an issue does not automatically mean those involved in the act are racist or intended the negative impact. We value, embrace, and are mindful of the differences writers bring to consultations. We understand that these differences affect a writer’s preparation for, encounters with, and reactions to writing, and that they also impact how writers learn. Since these experiences often reflect deeply-rooted social inequities, racism, and ethnic oppression, the staff of the UWC seeks to develop everyday practices that advocate for equity and social justice.
As a result of these beliefs:
We are resolved to affirm explicitly, publicly, and in united solidarity our identity as an antiracist academic unit.
We are resolved that our antiracism commitment be reflected in the life and culture of the UWC through our policies, programs, and practices as we continue to learn about and dismantle racism and ethnic oppression within all aspects of the UWC, Baylor University, and our society. We are resolved to purposefully and actively work to identify, discuss, and challenge issues of racism and ethnic oppression and the impact(s) they have on our Center, its systems, and its people. We promise to listen and look carefully and compassionately for ways that we may unintentionally perpetuate racism or social injustice, actively engaging in antiracist practices. We also challenge ourselves to understand and correct any inequities we may discover to gain a better understanding of ourselves during this purposeful process. We recognize microaggressions and welcome critique as opportunities for personal growth and professional development of the UWC staff, our policies, our practices, and our programs.
We are resolved to recognize, acknowledge, and value diverse “standards” of written English. We recognize that language is constantly changing and we value the fact that different groups of people have different practices and values of written English. We are determined to not place people in hierarchies, to dismiss or disregard varieties of English, or to restrict opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.
We are resolved to help students become more critical of these unjust language structures as they affect students’ writing and the judgment of that writing. In particular, being aware of racism as structural offers students the best chances to develop as writers and succeed on their own terms in an inherently racist society. Furthermore, by acknowledging and critiquing the systemic racism that forms parts of Baylor and the languages and literacies expected in it, students and writing center consultants can cultivate a more socially just future for everyone. Just avoiding racism is not enough because it means we are doing nothing to stop racism at large, and it amounts to allowing racism to continue.
We are resolved to recognize that racism is connected to other forms of social injustice, such as sexism, classism, ableism, ageism, etc. We promise to do our best to compassionately address these issues as they pertain to student writing as well.
We are resolved to provide an inclusive, respectful, and socially just environment for all members of the Baylor community. We work to make the UWC a welcoming place where writers feel comfortable bringing their diverse range of perspectives, backgrounds, beliefs, and abilities. We are committed to accommodating writers of diverse learning styles (visual, verbal, aural, kinesthetic) and abilities (i.e., physical, cognitive, neurological, visual, and social). We are committed to advocating for the things that make our Center safe, welcoming, productive, and proactive.
We are resolved to advocate for language usage that is mindful of differences, and to advocate for inclusive language in our practices, in our writing, and in our consultations. We do this by listening to the content of writers’ ideas prior to suggesting corrections to style, grammar, and formatting. Also, in our response to writers, we emphasize rhetorical situations and higher-order concerns over grammatical “correctness.” We also resist the notion that facility with grammar is a measure of intelligence. Instead, we commit to providing students with ways to be more aware of grammar as a rhetorical set of choices with various consequences.
We are resolved to view the writer as the expert and ourselves as learners alongside writers. We do not grade or evaluate the writing we see, and we do not communicate what happens in a consultation to students’ instructors without the permission of the student.
We are resolved to conduct on-going assessments of the work of the University Writing Center, looking specifically for patterns or potential inequalities or oppressive practices that may be occurring in the Center.
Ultimately, we are committed to antiracist practices in our conversations, methods, policies, and everyday practices, and we strive to meet both the educational and cultural needs of all visitors to the UWC, in hopes of combatting systems of oppression and inequality.