Bulletin News

Racial justice workshop for SUNY Cortland faculty


Cortland’s Urban Recruitment of Educators (C.U.R.E.) program is sponsoring a faculty workshop with the Civic Ensemble, “Racial Justice at SUNY Cortland: Our Stories, Our Solutions,” on Friday, Feb. 26.

The performance by Civic Ensemble, a theater group from Ithaca, N.Y. from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The event is directed toward SUNY Cortland faculty and 40 spots are available. Register online via Zoom.

“We’re very focused on it being ‘faculty first’ because it's about developing strategies for faculty to intervene in difficult situations,” said Anne Burns Thomas, professor in the Foundations and Social Advocacy Department and coordinator of C.U.R.E.

Civic Ensemble has worked with SUNY Cortland students and faculty in the past by holding story circles related to race and identity and developing a play, “black/brown/other,” from their testimonies.

The title “black/brown/other” stems from a student quote about how one is asked to identify their race on campus. The student addressed how there could be people that do not fit into the racial categories that are listed because they are biracial or multiracial, so they must choose “other.”

The workshop will include a screening of the play. Then, Civic Ensemble actors will assign roles and act out racial situations with faculty.

“I think the faculty at SUNY Cortland want to do better than they have done in the past,” said Burns Thomas. “I know for sure in the School of Education, which is my school, most of our work is around how can we learn how to do better and this is one of the things that people have always asked for.”

The workshop will help increase the faculty’s comfort with providing a safe space to students having difficult dialogues about race. C.U.R.E. works to grow the number of teachers of color in K-12 schools and its mission is reflected in this workshop.

“I ask myself all the time, ‘Why aren’t there more teachers of color?’” Burns Thomas said. “What are the obstacles to this profession of teaching? Why isn’t it more diverse? It’s so dominated by white women. One of the main reasons is the experience that people of color have in classes. They don’t see themselves as teachers because the experience they have is not affirming. So, we want to do something to change that experience so that people can see themselves as teachers.”

This workshop is part of a series and attendees are asked to create an action plan to put the skills they’ve learned to use.

“I do think there’s a lot of richness in stories instead of just statistics and learning,” said Burns Thomas. “This has been really powerful.”

For more information about the workshop, email Burns Thomas or call 607-753-4337.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Chelsea Grate