Open Letter from the Faculty of the Haverford Classics Department

On Friday, June 12, 2020, the Bryn Mawr and Haverford Classics departments shared a statement on the murder of George Floyd, the field’s complicity within and perpetuation of racist systems, and our commitment to dismantling anti-black racism in all forms. The faculty of Haverford’s Classics department are writing to expand on this statement with a description of our ongoing and new departmental initiatives to work toward an anti-racist future for Classics in our community and our discipline. In addition, as a member department of the Society for Classical Studies, and as individual members, we endorse and participate in the statement by the Society for Classical Studies, and will post our endorsement on our website with a link to that statement.

In the time since we released our original statement, two letters have been brought to our attention: the first is an open letter addressed to the Bi-College Community, written by thirteen current Bi-Co students, and the second, written by Bi-Co alumni/ae/a, is one addressed specifically to the Bi-Co Classics departments, calling for actions and reforms to promote anti-racism and other forms of equitable and inclusive practice. We want to begin by thanking the students and alumni who put together these letters: we value your insights and your calls for expeditious and  vigorous action to make Bi-Co Classics an actively anti-racist and inclusive community. We acknowledge that trust within our community has been broken and that our students are suffering, and we commit ourselves, in our ongoing work on these issues,  to answering their calls to action.

We recognize that this work must be part of an ongoing departmental prioritization of anti-racist work within and beyond Classics. To that end, we append to this letter the draft of our departmental Plan for Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion. This version of our plan to make Bi-Co Classics an anti-racist and inclusive program began to emerge through conversations among the department’s faculty during the Strike For Black Lives on June 10th and has been significantly revised and expanded in consideration of the Open Letters. Our conversations as a department have taken their cues from student feedback (the open letters mentioned above; senior exit interviews; anonymous course evaluations; individual conversations and experiences with students) as the most crucial starting point from which we situate our commitment to anti-racist action. We recognize that the five faculty members currently at Haverford lack the perspective of black classicists. In response to this, we reaffirm our commitment to seeking and hearing the testimony of our students and of BIPoC classicists and to being transparent about our departmental efforts. 

As part of our commitment to heightened transparency about our efforts, we intend to post our evolving plan to our website ( where it can serve as a focus for dialogue, continual improvement, and long-term accountability. We recognize that the conversations — both among the Haverford faculty and with our colleagues at Bryn Mawr — and the plan itself can only be preliminary to broader conversations and actions involving all constituencies within the Bi-Co Classics community. We invite collaborative discussion regarding these initiatives; the work is ours to do, but we eagerly look forward to engaging with the feedback, ideas, and perspectives of our current, past, and future students. 

Deborah Roberts (incoming interim Chair)
Bret Mulligan (outgoing Chair)
Ava Shirazi
Hannah Silverblank
Matthew Farmer