Rutgers English Department News

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,

We write as the leadership of the English Department at Rutgers University and the members of the department's Committee on Bias Awareness and Prevention to strongly condemn the murder of George Floyd, racist police brutality, and other expressions of white supremacy.  We stand in solidarity with the protests calling for transformation in this country and in the full recognition that black, brown, and indigenous citizens and noncitizens (inside and well beyond the department) continue to bear the brunt of this nation’s systemic racism.  We too join calls for a new normal that requires transformative justice.  This means advocating for—now and well into the future—substantive changes in the ways that education, housing, health care, distribution of wealth, policing, and governance function (or fail to function) in this country.

Universities are embedded in a society founded upon persistent structural inequalities.  They have too long and frequently reproduced these bedrock problems, even as they labor to study them, creatively resolve them, and reverse their effects.  To the extent that we are part of a department in a public institution of higher learning, it falls to us to reassess our own practices and reimagine what we do, how we do it, how we relate to one another within this department, and how this department engages the communities it serves.  Such an undertaking involves renewed commitment to more, and more thoroughgoing, conversations as individuals and as a collective.

In the meantime, we encourage you to raise your voice and to make a difference in this difficult moment however you can.  Among the many options, you may want to contribute to an organization in support of activists on the front lines:


Members of the Committee on Bias Awareness and Prevention

Erica Edwards, Associate Professor of English
Ryan James Kernan, Assistant Professor of English
Sarah Novacich, Associate Professor of English
Stéphane Robolin, Associate Professor of English
Mukti Lakhi Mangharam, Associate Professor of English
Jeffrey Lawrence, Assistant Professor of English
Nancy Yousef, Professor of English 
Rebecca L. Walkowitz, Distinguished Professor of English and Chair
Lynn Festa, Professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies