A Statement of Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The faculty of the English Department at the University of Mississippi embraces diversity, inclusion, and equity as central to the scholarly mission and humanistic values of this department. As professors of literature and culture, we commit to these views and practices because we believe that at bedrock our discipline insists that words matter. The study of words—their meaning and their manipulation—is fundamental to understanding how people create, maintain, and reshape power, meaning, and identity.
Our commitment to diversity means that we work to ensure that our students, faculty, and staff represent an array of salient experiences that mark human difference, including differences of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, gender expression and characteristics, and physical ability.
Our commitment to inclusion means that we strive to foster an open, self-reflective, and supportive learning community for all of our students, faculty, and staff. We affirm that a variety of perspectives enriches collective analysis and advances critical thinking, both inside and out of the classroom.
Our commitment to equity begins with recognizing the ongoing legacies of systemic inequity within the institutions of our academic field, university, and department, and means that we commit ourselves to reshaping these institutional structures in a way that will ensure more equitable access to power within them.
We recognize that the University of Mississippi is situated on the ancestral home of the Chickasaw nation and that people enslaved to wealthy patrons of the institution carried out the construction of the campus itself. We further acknowledge the deep history of racial strife at UM, the campus which served in 1962 as a violent crucible for the integration of higher education in this state and a flashpoint in the struggle to desegregate U.S. American society more generally. Literature helps us to think about this past, trace its ongoing influence in the present, and hear the voices that—now and always—have resisted the mindlocks of white supremacy, patriarchy, and heteronormativity by envisioning different ways to be.
The College of Liberal Arts likewise recognizes these values and encourages their practice through its “10 in 3” plan (https://libarts.olemiss.edu/anti-racism-social-justice-and-equity-the-college-of-liberal-arts-is-committed/), as does the university, which has announced its own commitment via “Pathways to Equity” (https://chancellor.olemiss.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/310/2021/01/UM_Pathways_to_Equity_Jan2021.pdf).