The Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER), a national organization of researchers dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of post-secondary biology, took a stand today with protesters across the country calling for the end of police brutality. For eight years, SABER has held its annual meetings in Minneapolis and over the years it has brought in thousands of visitors to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in Minneapolis. Today SABER sent letters to the Governor of Minnesota, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and many others informing them that the Society would no longer hold their conference in Minnesota until the state has demonstrated a commitment to racial justice:
“We need to see tangible evidence of action for justice for Mr. Floyd and of changes in Minnesota law enforcement. Such changes would include de-escalation training for police, firing of police who violate human rights, and implicit bias training for all government officials, police, and other public servants. These actions will allow its citizens of color to feel protected, not threatened, by police. We need to see the requests, needs and perspectives of your Black communities in Minneapolis and Minnesota honored.”
The full letter can be found here.
In addition to leveraging its financial resources to stand with protesters, SABER recognizes that as a professional society they also have internal work to do. They have announced initiatives to educate their own members about white privilege and systemic racism and assess additional actions they can take to promote racial justice both in biology classrooms and at their meetings. They have also formed a new committee to assess possible locations for their conference that ‘confer[s] a sense of safety to [their] members.’