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Words Alone Are Not Enough

Office of the President
Monday, 6/1/2020

Subject: Words alone are not enough - A Message from President Clark

Dear BSU community,

During this past week, we have witnessed yet again the taking of black lives in acts of senseless violence.  The killing of George Floyd is but the latest, tragic manifestation of the racism, hatred and violence that continue to plague our country. 

Bridgewater State University joins in solidarity with all who have condemned the murder of George Floyd and calls for those responsible to be brought swiftly to justice.  I can only begin to imagine the enormous pain, anger and frustration that our black and brown students, faculty and staff must feel.  The lives of people of color in society matter and the insidious injustice faced by people of color, the poor and other excluded groups cannot stand now or ever.

These outrageous acts of racism and hatred are impossible to reconcile with the values of human dignity, liberty and equality upon which our nation was founded.  I am very proud of our many students, faculty, staff and alumni who have exercised their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly to peacefully protest the murder of George Floyd and the societal dysfunction that allows these horrendous acts of racism and hatred to endure.  

Through our action, we are reminded that we are not powerless in the face of hate and injustice.  We are reminded that our values count – that our voices and efforts make a difference.  We are reminded that as citizens in a democracy we have a responsibility to express our opinion, stand up for truth and what we know to be right and to demand that our country live up to its highest ideals. 

These past ten weeks have again exposed the deep structural inequalities that are tearing at the fabric of our nation – vast and growing inequalities of opportunity, of income and wealth, of access to education and healthcare, of equal protection under the law through the criminal justice system and of just treatment as human beings with inherent dignity and worth.

We are reminded that as universities we have a special responsibility to expose and critically examine these conditions and to provide means and resources by which we can channel that understanding into action catalyzing real change.  Here at BSU, we can undertake meaningful efforts through education, awareness, research, regional engagement and our vibrant equity agenda to make change.  Reaffirming our values is important, but not enough.  We must translate our values into an action agenda through our strategic plan and daily work.

On Wednesday, June 3, we will host a BSU Community Forum on Racial Justice from 12:15 P.M. to 1:45 P.M. This forum will bring together our BSU community to provide a safe space in which we can share our anger and grief.  It will afford our faculty, staff and students an opportunity to bring their expertise, passion and skills to bear in sharing, listening and learning.  We will discuss our individual and collective roles during this moment in history and begin to develop an action agenda for civic engagement and social justice.  You can anticipate receiving an e-mail tomorrow from Dr. Mary Grant, our Senior Administrative Fellow for Civics and Social Justice, with additional information about the forum. 

In keeping with our mission, Bridgewater State University has dedicated itself to diversity, inclusion and equity.  We have integrated these critical goals into our strategic planning and invested substantial resources in our Division of Student Success and Diversity, Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice, Office of Institutional Diversity, Office of Equal Opportunity and Center for Multicultural Affairs, among others.  If you need to access these resources in order to further our joint work for racial justice, you may contact Dr. Luis Paredes, the director of the Office of Institutional Diversity, at lparedes@bridgew.edu.  If you seek individual support, you may e-mail Donna Schiavo, Director of Counseling Services – Wellness Center at dschiavo@bridgew.edu or call Counseling Services at 508-531-1331.  I also would direct you to two publications from the Southern Poverty Law Center that may be helpful: Speak up: Responding to every day bigotry and Ten ways to fight hate: A community response guide.

Warmest regards,

Fred Clark
Frederick W. Clark Jr., Esq.
President