Action Steps at UNT Anthropology | Department of Anthropology

Action Steps at UNT Anthropology

1. Lobby for defunding the university police and to create alternatives to policing on campus.

Initial Departmental response

We agree on the need to examine and challenge UNT's budget, particularly the disproportionate amount of funds allotted to the Police Department in relation to the Multicultural Center, Pride Alliance, Office of Equal Opportunity, and Division of Institutional Equity and Diversity. We also recognize the need to push toward non-policing alternatives for nonviolent calls, particularly those related to mental health and drug-induced crises; advocate for more constructive and less punitive responses to non-violent drug possession; and, lobby for the protection of students from drug convictions to ensure that they remain eligible for financial aid.

We are seeking to learn more about how we can contribute to campus efforts toward an equitable police presence on campus. We are investigating coalitions of students and faculty working towards this goal to see how we can support their efforts.

Latest Update

Dr. Christina Wasson led an investigation on actions taken regarding defunding the UNT police. We looked for other departments or university organizations to collaborate with and could not find any. Dr. Wasson collected much information about the UNT police and UNT actions related to policing and compiled a report.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

2. Lobby the UNT Administration to declare UNT a Freedom City.

Initial Departmental response

We commit to advocating for the declaration of UNT as a Freedom City. We recognize that more collective action is necessary to not only support, but also join, the efforts of our colleague, Dr. Mariela Nuñez-Janes, and groups like the Multicultural Center, the Latina/o and Mexican American Studies program, the Women's and Gender Studies Program, Mueve, and the North Texas Dream Team to fight for more just conditions for undocumented members of the UNT community. Together, we pledge to strengthen their continuous efforts at lobbying the UNT administration to:

  • Prohibit ICE and CBP from campus job fairs
  • Demand that the UNT administration and campus police rely on the sensitive locations memorandum to ensure that ICE enforcement actions are not conducted on campus
  • Educate police, faculty, and staff on the requirement for immigration warrants to be signed by immigration judges

The department's full-time faculty have all registered for Eagle Dreamer training, and we will encourage part-time faculty to take training when scheduling permits.

Latest Update

Dr. Nuñez-Janes reports that UNT is establishing a Dreamers Center in the new Multicultural Center.

The entire Department of Anthropology is scheduled for Eagle Dreamer training in January 2022.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Improve the hiring and recruiting process of faculty candidates.

Initial Departmental response

We commit to redoubling our efforts at recruiting and hiring BIPOC anthropologists for future positions. Toward this goal, we pledge to lobby the administration for diversity hires. We also commit to ensuring that job calls include explicit commitments to diversity. Specifically, we will: 1) advertise positions via open source recruitment sites that reach a range of audiences; 2) prioritize work devoted to race and racism within our specialty areas; 3) establish metrics that value scholarship for and by BIPOC communities often overlooked in the academy; 4) finally, continue to include BIPOC faculty on hiring committees, but also reward this additional labor through merit and pay.

Latest Update

As of December 2021, we are actively searching for 2 new faculty members. The assistant professor position prioritizes work devoted to environmental/racial/social justice. We are advertising the positions on recruitment sites that reach a range of audiences. We require each candidate to write a diversity statement describing how they incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into their research and teaching practices, and how they would contribute to the development of a diverse and inclusive learning community at UNT through teaching and service. We established a rubric that gives higher weight to this diversity statement. Finally, there is a BIPOC committee member.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

4. Support current BIPOC faculty equitably.

Initial Departmental response

We agree that BIPOC faculty endure inequitable and disproportionate expectations and lack necessary means of support. We recognize the need to correct salary and labor inequities based on gender, race, and ethnicity, and commit to processes that identify and remedy them. To this end, we redouble our efforts to engage in and support the work already being done at the college and university levels by anthropology faculty. Dr. Alicia Re Cruz has participated on multiple university committees addressing racial and gender inequities in hiring and promotion processes, and Dr. Mariela Nuñez-Janes created La Colectiva, a faculty peer-mentoring group for women of color. Going forward, we commit to lobby the administration to compile salary data in reference to race and ethnicity. We pledge to reward the often-invisible additional labor conducted by BIPOC faculty. Faculty will continue to meet regularly with the department chair to monitor distribution of work expectations and ensure progress towards tenure and promotion.

We recognize the need to be transparent about how faculty are evaluated and rewarded. We will post our Promotion and Tenure/Merit criteria on our department webpage. We also recognize the need to be attentive to what students are observing and experiencing. As part of our forums for dialogue, we will seek to know from students what information they would want to know regarding faculty salary, promotion, and merit.

Latest Update

Our department's Merit, Promotion, and Tenure document is available for review so students can understand how faculty are reviewed.

We held multiple Townhalls in 2020-2021 for both undergraduate and graduate students. The purpose of these Townhalls is to open dialog between the department and students to discuss any topic of concern to students. We will continue to host several Townhalls every year.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

5. Recruitment and Retention of BIPOC students.

Initial Departmental response

We recognize the need to be more intentional in how we recruit BIPOC students. Steps include strengthening our holistic review assessments and rubrics to consider applicant attributes often missed by more traditional academic metrics. We also pledge to formally track admissions data on race, ethnicity, and gender. We will make demographic data on the current graduate student body available on the departmental website. We vow to incorporate recruitment into our research and pedagogy, and be more intentional about reaching new audiences via social media, and through our engagement with local schools and community colleges. Additionally, we commit to reinforcing our mentorship programs, such as the grad-undergrad student Padawan mentorships, graduate admissions seminars, and faculty participation in the McNair Scholars program.

At the same rate, we seek to better understand how we can support students. We commit to openly engaging with students to learn what kinds of support are needed through the town halls and graduate "labs."

Latest Update

We have established regular Townhalls, Grad Labs, and Coffee Talks for continuing discussions important to students.

The PADAWAN Society is an initiative by the Department of Anthropology to partner undergraduate majors with graduate mentors to support, promote, and prepare postgraduate studies.

Through our 1st Year Besties Initiative, 1st Generation in College students are matched with ongoing ANTH majors (mostly 1st Generation themselves) who will help our incoming students navigate UNT during their first week of classes. There will be additional events throughout the academic year.

Dr. Mariela Nuñez-Janes continues her work with the Denton ISD bilingual student homework hotline. This work includes undergraduate and graduate volunteers and class projects.

The department continues to revise our holistic review for applicants to our Master's in Applied Anthropology. We have removed the GRE requirement from the application requirements.

The department has two scholarships that support this work. The Re Calerón Scholarship is granted to an anthropology graduate student who expresses interest in social justice issues. In addition, we are starting a new scholarship for both undergraduate and graduate students researching issues related to race, racism, and social justice. We will launch a fundraising campaign hoping that our dedicated alumni will contribute to this cause.

The department is currently strategizing outreach to community colleges.

We highlight that many of our classes support BIPOC students. The majority of students in those classes are BIPOC - Peoples and Cultures of Africa, Latinos in the U.S., African American Anthropology.

We have a new certificate in Social Justice.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

6. Provide anti-racist training

Initial Departmental response

We commit to instituting regular anti-racist training for all faculty, staff and students in the department that will be required in addition to the University-mandated training. Although we are unable to require attendance for faculty from other departments, we will strongly encourage their participation. Additionally, we commit to attending and participating in the University's annual Equity & Diversity conference, and will continue to incorporate anti-racist training into the graduate student orientation process.

We have initiated a plan that reconceptualizes the undergraduate curriculum to focus more on cultural anthropology, making the four-field approach optional. After extensive discussion, we concluded that this was our best option given student concerns about courses outside of our department and our constraints on hiring new faculty. The plan is currently making its way through the university approval process.

Latest Update

Our plan to reconceptualize the undergraduate curriculum to focus on cultural anthropology is complete. Taking classes in archaeology and physical anthropology are now optional. The focus on cultural anthropology better aligns with the strengths of the Department of Anthropology faculty. In addition, there were concerns about required courses being offered by faculty in other departments, and the Department of Anthropology had less recourse with issues in those classes.

The faculty in the Department of Anthropology are trained yearly through the Anti-Bias & Cultural Awareness Program. We attend and participate in the University's annual Equity & Diversity Conference. The Senior Program Coordinator and Department Chair have completed the Inclusion, Equity, and Community Building Series (20-hour course).

____________________________________________________________________________________________

7. Intentional conversations around race and racism.

Initial Departmental response

We will institute a town hall that invites students, faculty and staff to directly engage with issues related to race, racism, and inequity. Initially, these town halls will be organized twice per semester, once for undergraduates and once for graduate students. Building on the town halls, we will incorporate conversations about race, racism, and other forms of inequity into our graduate curriculum through the introduction of regularly-meeting "labs" during the semester. Finally, we commit to including anti-racism statements in our syllabi and "opening" our office doors to such conversations.

Latest Update

We have established regular Townhalls, Grad Labs, and Coffee Talks for continuing discussions important to students. We created an anti-racist statement to include on all syllabi. The topics of race and racism are built into our curriculum in many classes. We have a new certificate in Social Justice.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

8. Proactively support BIPOC students.

Initial Departmental response

We commit to being more proactive in creating spaces and opportunities for BIPOC students to share their experiences without fear of retaliation. We will actively share information about on-campus and off-campus events and organizations that support BIPOC students, and will make website links to the Multicultural Center calendar, Pride Alliance, Women and Gender Studies, LMAS, and African-American Studies events available. We commit to creating mentorships for BIPOC and 1st generation college students with the goal of connecting students with professional networks and job opportunities.

Within the department, we pledge to create opportunities for students to speak out about behavior in the classroom and elsewhere on campus without the fear of retaliation and ridicule. In addition to town halls and discussion labs, we will institute a website portal for students to anonymously express concerns (discussed in further detail below). We vow to provide support for student initiatives that form groups to address inequality on campus. We will reinforce our student/faculty liaison position to continue serving as a conduit of undergraduate representation to the faculty, and will continue to invite the liaison and a GASA representative to faculty meetings.

Finally, we commit to teaching approaches that work towards addressing and dismantling the institutional racism within the discipline, academy, and classroom. We acknowledge the need to examine our own teaching practices for how they implicitly include and exclude students.

Latest Update

We have established regular Townhalls, Grad Labs, and Coffee Talks for continuing discussions important to students.

We created the Diversity Resources at UNT web page to link the Multicultural Center, Pride Alliance, Women and Gender Studies, LMAS, and African-American Studies programs.

The PADAWAN Society is an initiative by the Department of Anthropology to partner undergraduate majors with graduate mentors to support, promote, and prepare postgraduate studies.

Through our 1st Year Besties Initiative, 1st Generation in College students are matched with ongoing ANTH majors (mostly 1st Generation themselves) who will help our incoming students navigate UNT during their first week of classes. There will be additional events throughout the academic year.

We have created a webpage called Report a Department Issue, which is a space for members of our community to report issues to the department chair anonymously.

The faculty in the Department of Anthropology are trained yearly through the Anti-Bias & Cultural Awareness Program. We attend and participate in the University's annual Equity & Diversity Conference. The Senior Program Coordinator and Department Chair have completed the Inclusion, Equity, and Community Building Series (20-hour course).

Faculty have revised their syllabi to be more inclusive and are continuously re-examining curricula and instructional practices.

We have a new certificate in Social Justice.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

9. Revise theory and syllabi.

Initial Departmental response

Several faculty revised their course syllabi this summer in response to your demands.

  • ANTH 4021
  • ANTH 5010
  • ANTH 5021

Latest Update

The anthropology faculty have worked hard on revising the undergraduate and graduate theory classes to be more inclusive. Reviews of course material will be ongoing. There is also a university-wide initiative to re-examine the curricula and instructional practices of courses in every discipline.

Reflecting on a speaker's discussion of how anthropology departments could reconstruct their teachings of anthropology history, one of our current graduate students noted, "In the online discussion she was asked what resources she recommends departments draw on. Most of which I was familiar with through my first two semesters at UNT. It is understandable that not all anthropology departments have yet addressed how to present history in a more inclusive way, it was discussed how much work it is to do but is needed. I wanted to let you know that I felt proud (that's the best word I can think of to describe how I feel) that I had been exposed to the works that were suggested. The discipline has changed a lot since my undergrad. I am also grateful for my experiences, and today the work UNT has done to shape anthropology and anthropologists for the future."

____________________________________________________________________________________________

10. Invite BIPOC speakers.

Initial Departmental response

We commit to increasing the number of BIPOC speakers at department events. Building on our faculty's leadership in organizing the International Year of Indigenous Languages speaker series (2019-2020) and annual Anthropology EXPO, we pledge to be more intentional about whom we invite to campus to speak. We will track guest speakers and make the list available on an annual basis via our departmental website. We also pledge to use virtual formatting of presentations to increase accessibility to departmental and class presentations.

Latest Update

A list of speakers, starting with the 2020-2021 academic year, is available on our website.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

11. Build partnerships with BIPOC owned organizations.

Initial Departmental response

We agree with the need to re-examine our professional networks and make more deliberate connections with organizations centered on and led by BIPOC. Although we believe that identifying and locating research partners is part of the graduate research process, we recognize the need for faculty to showcase their professional networks and continue to provide one-on-one mentoring that facilitates introductions and connections between students and organizations. Additionally, on the department website, we will make available a list of past thesis site partnerships organized according to topic matter.

Latest Update

A list of past thesis sites is available on our website.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

12. Formalize the reporting of racism and other inappropriate behavior by faculty members and students.

Initial Departmental response

We commit to establishing a process for the reporting of inappropriate, toxic, and racist behavior by students, faculty or staff. We will create a web portal on the departmental website for the reporting of grievances. People will be able to submit reports anonymously or provide contact information if they would like to engage in a follow-up conversation. Each report will be recorded and then discussed at faculty meetings. We seek to further clarify the role of student involvement in the process via our town halls. We will also follow the University requirement to report any suspected acts of discrimination or harassment to the Office of Equal Opportunity. Additionally, we pledge to continue "opening" our doors to conversations with students.

Latest Update

We have created a webpage called Report a Department Issue, which is a space for members of our community to report issues to the department chair anonymously.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

13. Collect feedback about the student experience and satisfaction with the department and its program. Include students in the department's strategic planning.

Initial Departmental response

We commit to redoubling our efforts at including student voices in our program planning and implementation. We will continue to collect anonymous feedback in an annual survey and continue to invite student participation to strategic planning meetings as we did in 2019. We will make the survey data, as well as the findings of Dr. Squires' spring 2020 evaluation class project, public via our website. Additionally, through the town halls and involvement of a student-elected GASA representative and undergraduate Liaison position at faculty meetings, we will seek to expand the role of students in department decision making processes.

Latest Update

We have established regular Townhalls, Grad Labs, and Coffee Talks for continuing discussions important to students.

We invite undergraduate and graduate student representatives to each faculty meeting to discuss issues important to students.

We are gathering survey data and will post evaluation data to the website.

Thinking about UNT?

It's easy to apply online. Join us and discover why we're the choice of over 42,000 students.

Apply now