Dear Students,

After the events of summer 2020, and difficult realizations on campus regarding the painful experiences of BIPOC and marginalized students, I made commitments on behalf of the faculty and staff that Juniata would address and resolve a list of equity and diversity concerns that had been brought forward. With humility and candor, I acknowledge that our work has not progressed quickly enough, and we have not lived up to that promise. At last week’s faculty meeting, Juniata students again reminded us that our priorities and resources must be focused on solving equity and diversity gaps and creating a campus climate that lives up to our mission and values, creating equity in experience and outcomes. Further additional concerns surfaced at that meeting that demand our attention. I appreciate the courage and character exhibited by student leaders and members of Students Advocating for Universal Respect (SAUR) and Plexus and those who joined with them to give voice to experience and again demand change. 

I have heard you. The administration and faculty have heard you. Along with colleagues, I have provided, below, responses to the specific demands (demands in bold) delivered to us on October 6 at the faculty meeting. Going forward we will transparently track our collective progress on our website. In this space, we will note tasks completed together and additional priorities and actions that have been identified. Immediately, I can report that I’ve approved additional staffing in the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. A job description and posting will be available shortly. 

Each month, we will invite conversation and feedback on our shared work. As you expect and demand change of us, we will do better. We will do it together, and we will succeed in developing a campus climate of which students, faculty and staff can be proud. 

Warm regards, 

President Troha


James A. Troha, Ph.D.




We demand honesty, transparency, and consistency. Students are not oblivious as to what goes on behind the scenes. We want transparent and honest news and we want transparent dates for when to expect these changes and implementations. We want shared progress on movements for equitable change.

In addition to regular meetings to share progress, we will provide monthly updates on the College’s website to document our collective efforts to address the concerns and demands contained herein as noted above. 

We demand all students are given equal opportunities to do well and succeed on this campus. Students of color are not given the same opportunities as their white peers and this needs to change if the retainment rate is to improve. This also includes re-introducing accessible online classes.

All of us agree that Juniata’s educational environments and opportunities must welcome and support all students equitably, particularly those experiences that provide the greatest educational benefit and outcomes, such as study abroad, independent undergraduate research, and in contexts where students apply classroom concepts in real-world environments, such as those associated with community-engaged learning and internships. It is experiences like these that foster the engagement through which students discover and pursue intellectual passions. An immediate audit of disaggregated participation (by race, socio-economic status, and gender identity) in these experiences will inform the development of strategies to grow the equitable participation of students across identities and experiences. 

Juniata must provide equitable access in its co-curricular experiences for all students. Whether those experiences are study abroad opportunities, independent undergraduate research projects or community-engaged learning projects, the College is committed to ensuring that students who want to partake in these experiences have the opportunity to do so.  

Additionally, we recognize the achievement gap in retention and graduation rates between students of color and white students and are concerned by it. For transparency, retention and graduation rates, disaggregated by race, are now posted on the institutional research site and will be updated annually.  Current initiatives to close these gaps include: targeting support and outreach to students with the highest individual risk for attrition during the first year; assessing summer and break programs to address preparedness and progress and keep students on track to graduation; determining the best strategies for making Juniata affordable; considering academic policies that would offer a fresh start or reboot to students whose transition is difficult. We would like to hear additional ideas and strategies to further this work as we coordinate more dialogue. 

We hear and appreciate the concerns about accessibility and accommodations mentioned here and with various examples at last week’s faculty meeting. Working with new Director of Accessibility Services (who begins on October 18th), Provost Bowen will  identify ways to meet the needs of students unable to attend class physically with options including but not limited to relevant materials being posted to Moodle (pre-recorded lectures, etc.) as well as Zoom links at the discretion of the instructor. We will have a clearly communicated plan and set of expectations for all instructors no later than the start of the spring 2022 semester. 

We demand any student reporting, especially bias reporting, to be completely anonymous to protect students.

The new Bias Incident Response Team protocols have been put into place.  A campus-wide introduction to the process is forthcoming. Bias incidents can still be reported online. A report is completely anonymous if the reporting party is signed out when completing the web form. The reporting party details are included only when the student is signed in or when they are provided voluntarily. The privacy and safety of those harmed is of utmost importance. 

We demand the annual crime report include acts of bias and accurate numbers regarding all crimes, especially hate crimes.

The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) will work in collaboration with Campus Public Safety and Assistant Dean Jesse Leonard to ensure that bias incident reporting is included in the annual report.

A bias incident dashboard is being created to inform the campus community of the number of cases reported and processed through the BIRT.

We demand a change to the curriculum. It is imperative that Juniata teach courses on systemic racism and minority culture to all our students and that they are a required part of our new curriculum; Educating students about racism and injustice in our society should be a core goal across the institution, reflecting our values as a community.

On behalf of the faculty, we pledge to strengthen the inclusion of systemic racism and minority culture in all first year experience courses (FYC, FYF, and FYS); Provost Bowen will require all FYE instructors to participate in equity literacy education prior to teaching in fall 2022. Additionally, the General Education Committee of the faculty, chaired by Dr. Territa Poole, will discuss how to alter the US Experience requirement to better confront systemic racism and will bring a proposal to the faculty for a vote by February 2022. 

We demand non-neutral emails from Troha and other administrators regarding acts of hate, especially about racism. It is complicit within white supremacy to be neutral, and it is not okay to be focused on pleasing alumni or the board of trustees instead of supporting your current students.

We seek clarity in all our communications. Some are designed to inform as quickly as possible while others provide the opportunity to be more reflective and personal. I hear the concerns -- that sometimes our efforts to provide dispassionate information as quickly as possible rings hollow. I pledge better authenticity from all of us who author such messages whether it’s me, the Dean of EDI, Dean of Students, or the Provost. 

We demand that more professors of color teach in Juniata’s most popular curriculums and the curriculums that a majority of Students of Color study.

We remain committed to diversifying the faculty and we will make that a higher priority when we approve faculty searches each fall. Provost Bowen will receive faculty hiring proposals on October 18th; authorizing a search will be contingent on a commitment to building diverse pools and to bringing a diverse set of candidates to campus for interviews. Every faculty search committee will meet with the Provost and the Dean of EDI to set expectations; search committees will be educated on potential bias of search processes as well. 

We demand that the Board of Trustees undergoes equity training on a consistent basis.

At the October board meeting, the trustees agreed to embark on cultural intelligence training. They will be partnering  with the Dean of EDI to immediately begin coordinating this effort. Once that training is complete, the board will then undergo unconscious bias training that utilizes the results of their cultural intelligence assessment. 

The board has also committed to reading the book From Equity Walk to Equity Talk as a group prior to the February board meeting.

We demand that people’s pronouns and gender identities be respected and if faculty, staff, and students fail to do so, they will be held accountable.

Working with the Registrar and Information Technology Services, Provost Bowen has begun efforts to create a website providing students with the tools and resources to ensure their chosen name is recorded in the system. That is the only name that will be shared internally with instructors, coaches, and work supervisors. I will communicate unequivocally my expectation that pronouns and gender identities be respected.