In reviewing the posted agendas on the JMU BOV website, which only has posted documents starting in 2021, it is clear the administration stopped providing regular updates on the Racial Equity Task Force after Governor Youngkin appointed five new members in July 2022. In the Fall of 2020, the BOV heard a presentation on the creation of the Task Force. The Madison Cabinet is able to verify that starting on February 19, 2021, every succeeding BOV meeting from that point on contained an update listed on the agenda about the activities of the Racial Equity Task Force. Of note, the final BOV meeting prior to the appointment of new board members from Governor Youngkin also contained the update, as had become customary in at least the preceding five meetings.
As seen in the agenda below, the Racial Equity Task Force update regularly included at least four JMU administrators, in addition to one member of the BOV. So far as the Madison Cabinet can tell, all of these administrators are still employed by the University and the Racial Equity Task Force is still functioning and making recommendations. Why has the university stopped updating the Board on the activities of the Task Force, if, in fact, it does still exist? One could speculate on the rationale, but if this was such a priority for the administration in the preceding two years it is hard to believe the effort would merely evaporate between April 2022 and September 2022. The massive bureaucracy that has formed as a result of this Task Force couldn’t have been dissolved without significant opposition from the faculty and administrators who have been spending a considerable amount of time on these efforts. It only seems appropriate that the JMU leadership be open and transparent to the Board about whether the Racial Equity Task Force still exists, and the activities of the group since July of last year. Especially since, as Madison Cabinet highlighted yesterday, at least one of the Task Force‘s ”active“ recommendations infringes upon student free speech. Perhaps, the lack of transparency from the administration to the BOV is how this recommendation limiting free speech has gotten this far.
BOV Meeting Agenda for September 16, 2022 (the first meeting after Youngkin appointees join the Board.)