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Department of English Anti-Racism Statement

The Department of English at the University of Utah stands with our students from underrepresented populations, including Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Pacific Islander, Asian/Asian American, LGBTQ+, and students with disabilities.  We believe English classes expand our capacity to imagine the experiences of others and can help us to identify the organizing frameworks that structure racism, but we recognize that textual interpretation is most powerful in tandem with the real work of racial justice. Therefore, we commit to promoting greater equity and inclusion in our teaching, mentorship, hiring, and research practices.  We pledge to be more cognizant of the diverse student experience and to help all of our students plan for the future of their choice.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report, 2021

Submitted by the Department of English’s Anti-Racism Committee

Work Summary

In fall of 2020, as a response to calls for accountability and mindfulness in the wake of summer 2020’s social upheavals, the University of Utah’s Department of English committed to self-reflection on its cultural practices.  We formed an Anti-Racism Committee tasked with evaluating the cultural climate of the department and determining ongoing actions and goals to improve equity for staff and faculty, as well as the overall experience of students taking English classes.  As a department, we are committed to creating an environment that welcomes students from all backgrounds and prepares them to be think critically about the challenges of the 21st century within a global humanities context.  This Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report reflects steps taken by the Anti-Racism Committee over the past year and communicates our findings and departmental recommendations. 

DEI Climate Survey Findings

To collect concerns and evaluate the perceptions of students, staff, and faculty, the Anti-Racism Committee distributed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion survey last spring via email. We received a 34% return from undergraduate students and a 38% return from graduate students, staff, and faculty. We learned that both students and faculty support increasing diversity at all levels and desire more transparency in how the Department recruits, sets policies, and provides mentoring.  Undergraduate students, in particular, requested community building activities and a broad array of guest speaker events that take into consideration their schedule and work constraints.  

These survey findings are now the basis for the English Department’s goals and actions going forward. The department will set benchmarks for success in each of these areas and review them annually.

What We’re Doing

To Increase Diversity

    • Actively recruit and support transfer students and new majors, while also energizing relationships with area institutions that serve a high population of underrepresented students.
    • Recruit a more diverse graduate student body by developing relationships with national institutions that serve a high population of underrepresented communities.

To Promote Transparency

    • Actively promote, and make more accessible, courses, lectures, readings, and open-dialogue opportunities for students and faculty to discuss and learn about DEI issues as they intersect with the humanities. For a list of courses, please see here. All our events and information on our speakers can be found in the Department’s Events calendar:

To Build Community and Mentoring Support

    • Offer formalized, regular mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students seeking help with research, and/or additional information about employment in the humanities.


For any questions regarding this committee, please contact Paisley Rekdal at  However, if you would like to officially report an incident you may use the University of Utah bias incident reporting system (  

Last Updated: 1/12/22