Kent State CARE committee members share insights on new Anti-Racism and Equity Institute

Fabio Polanco is a associate professor in the School of Theatre and Dance and co-chair of the CARE committee. 

Morgan Boyd Reporter

The Community, Anti-Racism, and Equity committee is a “permanent standing committee” within the School of Theatre and Dance, according to its website. The website states that the committee was created to advocate and implement anti-racism policies and practices in the School of Theatre and Dance, on the Kent campus, on Kent’s regional campuses and in the city of Kent.  

“The committee stands equally with all the other committees and is part of a long term commitment,” said Fabio Polanco, an associate professor in the School of Theatre and Dance and co-chair of the CARE committee. 

According to the website, the committee’s approach is to project messages in correspondence with Kent State’s efforts to promote anti-racism and equity policies while helping staff, faculty and students promote an inclusive and anti-racist environment. 

“It’s with careful discussions and input that we are going to move forward with the changes that need to be made and are frankly overdue,” said Yuko Kurahashi, a professor in the School of Theatre and Dance and a CARE committee member.   

In light of the previous incidents on campus, including the defacement of the Rock and the etching in the library plaque, Kurahashi expressed why she feels there is a need for an inclusive environment on campus. 

“The students and faculty have the right to choose their own self care solutions,” Kurahashi said. “Some may not want to attend class after a traumatic event and may need to have a conversation about it.” 

In addition to committee meetings and school events, the committee offers workshops to aid students with the ability to understand issues involving diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“We bring in a specialist that deals with a certain area pertaining to diversity,” Kurahashi said. “They then augment our understanding of what it means to diversify.”

The Kent State Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the Anti-Racism and Equity Institute, which according to their website states that the institute will act as a hub for research regarding race and anti-racism scholarship, activism and education.  

“The institute provides opportunities to interface about racial issues,” Polanco said. “It also provides opportunities for research into these issues as well.” 

While the CARE committee is exclusive to the School of Theatre and Dance, the institute is for all disciplines within the school, with the main focus being bringing research into the curriculum. 

“This is an institute in which members are meant to come together and then exchange perspectives, in order to inform or enrich our understanding of race and culture,” Kurahashi said.   

Kurahashi noted that while the previous incidents on campus have prompted more discussions on anti-racism initiatives, the institute has been a long time coming. 

“There is a contrast between the incident, like the derogatory terms painted on the rock and taking action in creating the institute,” Kurahashi said. “With everything happening in the world, we are in serious need of creating a space for people to exchange ideas and form an alliance.” 

Polanco mentioned that although the institute is a step forward, the responsibility to take action towards anti-racism initiatives still lies with the people. 

“The institute isn’t responsible for making all the changes necessary because that would be impossible,” Polanco said. “The idea behind the institute is to introduce research within the curriculum.”

Morgan Boyd covers research. Contact her at [email protected]