WMU devoting $2M to racial equity programs

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Western Michigan University is announcing new racial justice initiatives and budgeting $2 million toward the effort.

The university is officially launching the Mountaintop Initiatives and the Racial Justice Advisory Committee.

President Edward Montgomery, Ph.D., says WMU is seeking proposals from the community on how the university can expand its programs.

“We want to build on those preexisting efforts. We want to build on them to look at ourself and to come up with suggestions and ideas for how that we can advance,” he said. 

The advisory committee will make recommendations in areas like training, recruiting and identifying issues of racial inequalities and systemic racism. 

“This is the next step for Western in trying to address some historical inequities,” Montgomery said. 

Made up of students, faculty, staff, and alumni, the committee has already had its first meeting. Candy McCorkle, Ph.D., the vice president of diversity and inclusion at WMU, is chairing it.

“That committee will begin to look at where we have inequities and disparities, especially in regards to race on our campus, and make recommendations for the campus to begin to address these things,” McCorkle said.

She said addressing racism and inequality needs to be a collaborative effort. 

“Folks need to be educated about these issues and that means students, faculty, and staff,” McCorkle said.

The university calls the funding a down payment and is acknowledging a long road ahead.

“These are deep-seated problems that will have been here for many, many, many years and so it will take time to address them but if you don’t face them, you can’t address them,” McCorkle said.