News and Commentary

East Coast Universities Conduct ‘Anti-Racist Audit’ In Libraries

“We acknowledge our institutional responsibility for addressing racism within the libraries."
A participant holding a White Privilege Is The Problem sign at the protest. Brooklynites gathered at Cadman Plaza for a march in the streets of Brooklyn, bringing light to Black Women affected by police violence and to amplify the movement against police brutality and racial injustice. Riders For Black Lives participated by sending bikes to act as a buffer and shield protesters from cars and police.
Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

The University of Delaware and Binghamton University are launching year-long “anti-racism talent management audit[s].”

According to a press release from Ithaka S+R, the consulting firm conducting the audit, the focus will be on addressing issues of “equity and justice” in the university’s library systems. It will specifically focus on the policies, practices, and outcomes related to recruitment, employment, promotion, and retention patterns in libraries. 

“We will work together to identify actionable reforms, building on and extending the impact of prior Ithaka S+R projects on representational diversity, organizational culture, and community engagement undertaken with library, museum, and archive partners,” the press release reads. 

“Across organizations and sectors, systemic  racism and resulting inequities have had a disproportionate impact on black staff members, and given this, the audit will maintain a strong emphasis on organizational culture and climate issues affecting black employees in particular.”

Binghamton announced its commitment to conducting an “anti-racist audit” back in Sept. 2020. In an “anti-racist statement,” the faculty acknowledged their “responsibility as representatives of a predominantly white institution (PWI) to repair the effects of institutionalized racism and advance anti-racist practices.” They also promised to advance “anti-racist work” in the library system. 

“We acknowledge our institutional responsibility for addressing racism within the libraries and leveraging our resources to advance other anti-racist work ongoing at the university and beyond,” the statement reads. 

The audit will be conducted by the consulting firm Ithaka S+R, which help institutions “adapt to new realities and opportunities.” The organization promotes equity, diversity, and inclusion audits and training for institutions, with a specific focus on art museums and research libraries.

According to an article from the company, its strategy is to call on universities to gain a deeper understanding of their role with slavery, construct symbolic messaging, and seek justice for past injuries. 

Noted success stories of universities combating racism include Brown University’s establishment of the “Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice.” Research at the center focuses on colonialism, capitalism, race, and mass incarceration. Other successes include colleges renaming and removing monuments on campus with connections to slavery and “white supremacist ideologies.” 

The organization also promotes racial reparations. It applauded the Virginia Theological Seminary which, according to The Associated Press, announced a $1.7 million reparations fund. 

Ithaka S+R has an agenda in calling on “accountability and reconciliation” from universities that they believe perpetuate racism. The same universities that they slander as racist proceed to hire them to fix their racism. 

Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion industry skyrocketed. Individuals and companies have profited greatly from providing trainings and audits that help institutions become “anti-racist.” 

In Maryland, a taxpayer-funded “equity consortium” made over $450,000 on an “anti-racist audit” for the Montgomery County Public School District. The firm promised to create a plan to provide “equitable outcomes for every student’s academic and social-emotional well-being.” In Virginia, the Loudoun County Public School district spent $422,500 in taxpayer funds on critical race theory training developed by a similar consulting firm. 

The University of Delaware and Binghamton University did not respond to requests for comment on how much each university will spend to conduct the audit. 

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