by Dr. John Sauter, Jr.
Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Niagara University
Whether your institution was open or closed today, it is a good opportunity to reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. His legacy includes the civil rights movement which influenced the women’s movement, Title IX, the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA), and higher education in many ways.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an important and inspiring figure in American history. It is possible that by reading his quotes, writings, and speeches, many of which can be found online at the King Center, it may offer insight into your own professional practices.
As advising and higher education professionals, today is a good time to reflect upon issues that you may or may not have not considered in a while. Did you ever have a course which focused on cultural diversity? Have you ever been to an ally or safe-space training? Have you ever reflected on privilege, intercultural competency, racial identity, multicultural competency, identity development, social justice? These are relatively common terms used in higher education research. When was the last time that you considered how these might influence your practices?
It is also important to consider your surroundings. How accessible are your institutions, programs, or office to your students? Are there any policies or barriers that appear to affect some students differently? Is there anything you can do to further support student voices on campus?
Many of these are complicated questions, and there are no simple answers. However, there are a great many lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which may help. I will leave you with one to consider.
"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.