President Gregory Washington has established a QEP that focuses on anti-racism
BY SUDIKSHA KOCHI STAFF WRITER
In an email sent out to students and faculty on Sept. 2, President Gregory Washington addressed the implementation of a new five-year quality enhancement plan: “Transformative Education through Equity and Justice: Anti-Racist Community Engagement.” The plan was established by Mason’s Reaffirmation Leadership Team with input from the Mason community.
“The QEP, which is an important component of our upcoming reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), specifically focuses on improving student learning/student success,” Washington wrote.
The QEP has four major components. The first component has to do with curriculum and pedagogy, or the method of teaching. Faculty plan to implement a foundational course of “Diversity, Inclusion, and Well-Being” as a requirement for all undergraduates. In addition, the administration plans to review the process to address curriculums for bias and develop an anti-racist statement on syllabi.
“The topic reflects on the strengths of the original Civic Engagement proposal, addresses opportunities for qualitative improvement in student success, engages academic and co-curricular communities across Mason, and positions our students and faculty to respond to current social issues,” Washington wrote.
The second major component has to do with staff and faculty development, in which anti-racist critical pedagogy and consciousness trainings will be implemented. Departments are in charge of establishing funding and faculty development for an anti-racist community teaching and research.
“The success of our QEP hinges on the engagement of the entire Mason community — faculty, students, staff, and administrators,” Washington wrote.
The third major component addresses critically responsive student experiences. The administration will incorporate intentional dialogue around anti-racist community engagement during orientation and first-year transition. In addition, they will establish funding for the Bonner Leader Program, which is a four-year service scholarship program for first-generation students, and launch an anti-racism community-engaged scholar program as a paid opportunity for undergraduate students.
“We need to know where systems, practices and traditions of racial bias exist at George Mason University so we may eradicate them,” Washington said in a video message to students and faculty on July 23, when the task force for anti-racism was just established.
The fourth major component has to do with community engagement. Administration will implement critical dialogue series, racial healing circles and host an annual symposium on anti-racist community engagement. They will also launch a community advisory board to review community partnerships and advise on anti-racist community engagement initiatives. With these two propositions put in place, they are hoping to expand K-12 and community college partnerships.
“I want George Mason University to emerge from this exercise as a local, regional and national beacon for the advancement of anti-racism, reconciliation and healing,” Washington said.
Focusing on these four major components, Washington is hoping to have both short-term and long-term improvements in the quality of education and community building at Mason.