Our Director of Legislative Affairs, Matt Harvey, organized a meeting of the Colorado Federation of Graduate Students (CFGS) today. See below for his update following the meeting.
Representatives from the University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Denver, and the Colorado School of Mines identified two key areas of critical concern to our graduate student communities. Firstly, the ongoing COVID pandemic and our institutions' respective roadmaps for the Fall of 2020 are mired in uncertainty. CU Boulder and School of Mines both presented concerns that the administration is not being held to account for promoting an unsustainable initiative to retain an on-campus learning experience against preserving public health, but are seeing administrators better elaborate on how undergraduate student populations will be required to follow COVID-related policies along with penalties for non-compliance. Of particular note, the University of Denver has developed a robust testing program for all faculty, students, and staff, with randomized testing to be administered periodically after the start of the fall quarter - which is a public health initiative that other higher education institutions can and should model.
Secondly, CFGS identified that all three participating graduate student governments were severely disappointed with their respective institutions' response to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in response. Our general consensus is that our respective administrative offices have promoted statements of 'lip service' while placing the burden of implementing institutional diversity and inclusion reforms at the department level. The result has been a patchwork, and inconsistent series of responses to systemic racism within academia. In the face of increased xenophobic rhetoric from the Trump administration, we believe that institutions of higher education in Colorado have a duty to actively protect their most marginalized populations - namely BIPOC students, faculty, and staff. To that end, we have developed a working group to develop a joint statement to be shared with our respective university administrators, our graduate student constitutions, and the Colorado Congressional Delegation, along with action items for community investment by CFGS that will be designed to combat racial injustice. This is a new initiative by representatives by the University of Denver, the Colorado School of Mines, and CU Boulder - and we look forward to sharing the progress of this initiative at our September meeting.