Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson addressed student concerns regarding a Sept. 3 public safety notice for the first time in a universitywide email Friday.
Johnson acknowledged the fear and anxiety the public safety notice caused Black and Brown students at the university because it omitted the race of the victims and identified the suspects as Black without additional details. She said she has directed the Department of Public Safety to write an after-action report with recommendations for policies to ensure the handling of the safety notice “never happens again.”
“Our work together in making The Ohio State University anti-racist and more inclusive is especially important at this critical juncture,” Johnson said.
The email comes after two student-led demonstrations outside Bricker Hall about the university’s handing of the safety notice and the university not prioritizing the safety of Black students and other minorities.
Johnson also said she has asked the Task Force on Racism and Racial Inequities to review the notices and outline a process to create dialogue with the university community about these topics. The task force is chaired by James L. Moore III, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, and Dean of the College of Social Work Tom Gregoire.
“We are creating an action plan to address the larger cultural issue of how our under-represented minorities, including Black and Brown students, faculty and staff, are treated at Ohio State,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the university received 73 proposals for the $1 million Seed Fund for Racial Justice, a fund started in June following protests on and near campus against police violence against Black Americans and calls for the university to evaluate its contract with Columbus Police. Grants of up to $50,000 will fund projects that address structural or institutional racism, implicit bias and racism, and racial and cultural disparities, the email states.
Full proposals for the fund are due Oct. 31 and awards will be announced Dec. 1, according to the email.
Johnson will begin holding office hours in the form of 15-minute Zoom calls every week. Details on signing up for the meetings have not yet been released.
The university also announced Friday that Anne Garcia would fill the role of senior vice president and general counsel after serving as interim since November 2019.