Dear Collegiate Recovery Community,
For the past several days, we have watched crowds of people across the nation express anger and frustration over the continuing violence against Black People in our country, including the recent murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Ahmaud Arbery in Atlanta.
We have witnessed a public manifestation of an American history and America’s present. These events are the most recent of centuries of horrific injustice against People of Color in our country, particularly African Americans and Indigenous people. It is critical that we acknowledge that the experience of our Black and Brown colleagues and students is radically different than those of us who have experienced the privilege of growing up White in America. Violence towards people of color is systematically baked into our national DNA. Indeed, African Americans are three times more likely to be killed by police than White Americans. Recent events simply reveal a reality that is lived day in and day out by many and easily avoided by others.
The Board and Staff at ARHE acknowledge our own complicity in systems that maintain inequities and in ways we are passive in pursuing justice for all. Collegiate Recovery is elitist and not equally accessible to students of color, LGBTQIA+ students, and differently abled students, and there are few programs whose identities are representative of the campuses on which they exist. Our own history is littered with mistakes and failures that have hurt students, staff members and allies. We have been rightly called out and called-in, and we must do better.
ARHE will be an active participant within a recovery movement that speaks up, that educates, but most importantly that listens and questions injustice. We must recognize the racism that is deeply embedded in the American soul, and continues to embed itself within every area of society: not just with policing and the justice systems, but throughout government, in our institutions and within our Collegiate Recovery Programs. We must see that the racism that created and allowed for the continuing “War on Drugs” is inextricably tied to the stigma, unprecedented rates of incarceration and overdose, and inequitable access to healthcare that dehumanize people who use substances and those in recovery. We also recognize that the larger recovery community often reinforces and fails to stand against those inequities.
Our ability to support our Black and Brown students and colleagues is directly related to our own commitment to personal transformation and recovery. This personal work runs parallel to our sustained efforts to dismantle systemic racism within ARHE and the other organizations we represent. In the coming days, weeks and months, we will examine our privileges and how we can use these to advocate for others, provide support for our students and colleagues of color, and provide space for students to process the complexity and diversity of their experiences and emotions. Our country must change, and so must we. Each day is a call to action. In that vein, ARHE is committed to taking these actions our own Anti-Racism work:
– Each board and staff member is committed to both individual and institutional work in examining and dismantling individual bias and systemic racism.
– We will commit sustained funding to internal institutional Anti-Racism work, in addition to funding shared healing spaces for students and staff who hold marginalized identities.
– We will seek to align ourselves with individuals and groups who are actively doing liberation, anti-racist and anti-oppression work.
– We will set policy around representation at events hosted by our organization and those events which we are invited to.
– We will add an additional standard to our Standards and Recommendations focused on Equity and Justice.
– We will conduct an annual internal review of our Anti-Racist work and recommit annually to progress towards an equitable and just organization.
ARHE is committed to listening to feedback from those impacted by systems of oppression, and individuals and organizations committed to their own anti-racism work.
The Association of Recovery in Higher Education