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Living Our Values Task Force

In June 2020, UT Dallas formed a Living Our Values Task Force with a goal of discussing issues of systemic racism, inherent bias, equity, diversity, access and inclusion within the campus community.

In late May 2020, a group of UT Dallas students sent an email to the University’s president, Dr. Richard C. Benson, that outlined concerns about racial equity, inclusion and diversity on campus.

In response, the University created the Living Our Values Task Force composed of students, faculty and staff. The primary goal was to develop recommendations for the University administration and president to consider.

Tamara Havis, a computer engineering senior and one of six student representatives who initially reached out to Dr. Benson to request changes, said the task force process involved more than 300 hours of volunteer service.

“UTD cannot accept the positivity of having different cultures without acknowledging the detriments that some of the cultures face in their heritage — such as systematic racism toward Black people. And with the creation of the task force, it is my hope the University is working to change that,” she said.

Such changes will require a sustained effort by the entire University to make campus welcoming and comfortable for Black students.

“This task force is vital for the advancement of our University. I am asking the team to have candid conversations and develop recommendations that make UT Dallas a better, more inclusive and respectful place for all to live and learn.”

UT Dallas President Richard C. Benson, the Eugene McDermott Distinguished University Chair of Leadership

Task Force Recommendations

In September 2020, the task force presented its recommendations to UT Dallas administrators, and Dr. Benson supported the following:

Develop and approve proposals for new minors in African and African diaspora studies and/or ethnic studies as a first step toward exploring degree programs in these areas. The School of Arts and Humanities currently offers a range of courses on African American history and literature that could become part of a new minor program.

Form a police oversight committee to promote transparency between the UT Dallas Police Department (UTDPD) and the University community. The oversight committee initially was recommended by a police task force formed prior to the Living Our Values Task Force, which endorsed its creation. The oversight committee would receive quarterly reports from the chief of police on arrests, use-of-force incidents, citations issued and any complaints made against UTD officers. It also would work with the police department to identify and promote outreach opportunities for UTDPD in the University community, survey the community about its attitudes toward the department and host a forum for the public to ask questions of UTDPD leadership at least twice per year.

Ensure fraternities and sororities educate members on the University’s nondiscrimination policy and promote cultural intelligence training for all UT Dallas fraternity and sorority members.

Commit to providing additional diversity and inclusion training for faculty and staff, especially supervisors. In addition, the University will conduct a campus climate survey and needs assessment and continue to support Employee Resource Groups to help attract and retain a diverse community and foster a welcoming culture on campus.

Expand outreach and recruitment efforts for underrepresented student populations with an emphasis on schools in the Dallas Independent School District and surrounding districts in historically underserved communities.

The task force is working to transition its charge to structures within the University that are better suited to addressing issues that require longer-term, structural solutions.

Texas Instruments Plaza

Contact the Living Our Values Taskforce

Students, staff, faculty, alumni and the community are encouraged to submit feedback to the Living Our Values Taskforce.

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