Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020
Subject: Update on Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice
Greetings BSU community,
As we reach the end of the semester and 2020, we wanted to take a moment to provide a brief update about the work of the President’s Special Racial Justice Task Force (RJTF). We also want to extend our deepest gratitude to the many colleagues across the campus and the BSU community who are working with great passion, wisdom, and diligence to address the charge, the challenge, and the opportunity presented to the Task Force by President Clark.
Throughout the fall semester, the nearly 70 members of the task force have been identifying the data needed and the research we must do, to answer the important questions that drive our work:
What elements of policy, practice, and culture are impeding racial equity at Bridgewater State University? And what remedies and recommendations for corrective action can we advance?
Over the past few months, we have had the opportunity to dig into this question, analyzing data provided through the racial justice forums, amplify, and student focus groups. The subcommittees have been researching and gathering additional information regarding the curriculum, human resource and workforce data, academic policies, policing practices, educational and training programs, as well as the policies and practices that guide how we serve and support students. At every step of the way, members of the RJTF are continuing to learn more, identify areas that require deeper exploration, and beginning to formulate a sense of future direction and eventual recommendations — but, we have more to do.
And, just last week, we had the opportunity on December 9th to brief the BSU Board of Trustees. The presentation we shared can be found here, and you will also find information about the work of the RJTF throughout the semester here.
In a recent interview with the Boston Business Journal, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, noted that colleges and universities “need to ask hard questions and do some heavy lifting around data tracking and analysis to better understand and, more importantly, address racial disparities on their campuses.” He noted “we have to figure out the policies and practices that are behind those inequities, and get rid of those and put in place more equitable policies, practices and measures and see whether they are actually leading to equity.” We are doing just that.
It has also been encouraging and inspiring to note the wide range of speakers, programs, conversations, and discussions across the campus concerning race, racial equity, and social justice. While words alone are not enough, they do matter and they represent one of the ways in which we continue to come together, work hard to understand differences, and take actions that will lead to a stronger, more inclusive, and more equitable BSU.
Across the country we have been hit with a blizzard of challenges, from racial injustice, COVID, economic uncertainties, political division, and the stress of being separated from those we love and count on. At BSU, the strength of this community enables us to dig deep, ask hard questions, and not be satisfied with the status quo. It enables us to support and learn from one another and, ultimately, hold ourselves accountable to ensure that we rise up to the challenge of achieving the ideals we value.
We are deeply grateful and indebted to the members of the task force and subcommittees (please see slide 11 for the full list of participants). In addition to juggling class, work schedules, and family responsibilities throughout the fall, in an extraordinarily complex set of circumstances, the task force has been persistent in pursuing truth. This work will continue throughout the spring when we submit our report to President Clark. But the work doesn’t end with our report. There must be an ongoing commitment throughout the BSU community to a process of addressing the findings of the task force’s report, holding ourselves accountable to continuously and honestly assessing how we are doing and working together — finally — to achieve racial equity.
Thank you for your support and your participation. We wish you all good health and safe holidays and we look forward to a new year ahead with confidence, hope, and a realistic optimism.
Dr. Mary Grant
Dr. Carolyn Petrosino
Co-chairs, Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice