Campus Actions and Racial Injustice

  • Campus Climate
  • Staff Writing

June 5, 2020

Dear Colleagues:
Like many of you, we are horrified, angry, and, deeply saddened by the killing of George Floyd, and too many others like Breonna Taylor before him, at the hands of the very people who are supposed to serve and protect. We stand in support of students and other activists who demand change. Racist policing cannot be decoupled from the disparate impact of COVID-19 on those that are black, indigenous, and/or people of color nor from hate-driven attacks on individuals like Ahmaud Arbery and others targeted because of their skin color. This dehumanization must end, as must structural racism and the economic, social, and political systems that preserve the status quo.

The Institute for Democracy & Higher Education works to advance education for a more aspirational version of U.S. democracy, one that is participatory, equitable and representational, educated and informed, and effectively and ethically governed. We believe that it is the obligation of educators to use their academic freedom to teach and advocate for, and model, just democratic systems and communities. This mission includes working to eliminate structural racism and the dehumanization of people of color.

 We appreciate the moving expressions of despair and frustration by institutional leaders, yet we would like to see colleges and universities respond more aggressively and creatively. Here are some innovations that we hope will inspire action and replication on other campuses:

 You can find more campus actions in this twitter thread, which we will be updating. We also welcome additions, both democratic education and institutional actions to eliminate practices that perpetuate undemocratic conditions. Please send short descriptions and links to

 We reiterate our pledge to do our part by providing research-based recommendations for closing turnout gaps in voting; fostering inclusive campus climates for political learning, discourse, and participation in democracy; and engaging in discussions across differences of identity and ideology, as well as other resources to help institutional leaders, faculty, staff, and students shape a more just and inclusive democracy.


 Nancy Thomas, Director, and the IDHE Team

 David Brinker
 Lauren David 
 Peter de Guzman
 Prabhat Gautam
 Adam Gismondi
 Xueyao Qiu
 Duy Trinh
 Kyle Upchurch