Judith Brown Clarke is Stony Brook University’s chief diversity officer. She announced a new diversity plan for Stony Brook University on June 24. RABIA GURSOY/STATESMAN FILE

Chief Diversity Officer Judith Brown Clarke announced a new diversity plan for the Stony Brook University campus community in a campus-wide email on June 24.

The strategic plan follows the request for Clarke to implement the Plan for Equity, Inclusion & Diversity during the University’s statement on the death of George Floyd and the mass protests held across the country against racism and police brutality. 

We will ‘lift the words off the pages’ of our thoughtfully crafted Plan for Equity, Inclusion & Diversity (DEI),” Clarke said in a June 5 message to the campus community. “We have had strategic implementation plans each year since the development of our DEI plan that have provided relevant and targeted guidance on our emphasis for the year.” 

This year, Clarke plans to focus on the current needs and concerns of students following the Black Lives Matter movement, while still developing plans for the upcoming academic year. 

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Clarke found a theoretical strategy for all of the various roles on campus including administrators, students and student leaders using a social change model called Collective Impact. It is a process that involves problem-solving and continuous learning. An in-depth explanation of the model and what it will look like when applied to the campus community will come in the next two weeks. 

The four conditions of collective impact for her plan include authentic community engagement, community aspirations, strategic learning and high leverage activities. 

“As a campus community, we will lead with purpose to build a supportive culture with our shared value strategy embedded into our actions and operational practices,” Clarke said in the email. “Our ability to accomplish this can only happen with the active engagement of all members of the community, which includes undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, faculty, staff, alumni and external stakeholders.”

Clarke also emphasized the importance of activities that have occurred thus far and the upcoming events planned for the campus community, including two more sessions of a virtual town hall presentation by the Center for Changing Systems of Power.

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On June 24, a community dialogue on structural and systemic racism and discrimination was held for undergraduate students by the Center for Civic Justice and hosted by more than 12 cultural organizations on campus. 

The dialogue gave Black students and other students of color a space to discuss the recent events and to identify their needs that need to be addressed by Stony Brook University in order to move forward. 

Shaheer Khan, president of the Undergraduate Student Government, said the dialogue was a step in the right direction.

“It was good to see administrators and faculty members listening to us; I’m excited to see what will be done with the information shared by us students,” he said. 

Various faculty and administration joined the discussion to listen to students.

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“I believed the dialogue was very helpful in getting students to a virtual table to express themselves in a very authentic and genuine way,” Jarvis Watson, assistant dean of students, said. “I came away from that dialogue appreciating the power that students have when they collectively use their voices for change, with a sense of urgency.”

There was a follow-up conversation on June 29 where future actions and efforts for university leadership were discussed based on the problems students brought up in the community dialogue. 

“The foundation of this Diversity Plan in Action is to ensure that everyone feels seen, heard, included, valued, supported and affirmed,” Clarke said in the June 5 email. “I am committed to developing positive outcomes from this plan and creating meaningful change on our campus.”

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