Sent on behalf of Trustee Davede Alexander, Dr. Mary Grant and Dr. Carolyn Petrosino, Co-chairs, Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice
Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020
Subject: Update on Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice
Good afternoon BSU community,
We write to you with a brief update and information about the work and progress of the Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice.
Mission, Values & Charter
The mission of the Task Force is to determine what elements in organizational policies, practices, or cultural dynamics impede racial equity at Bridgewater State University and offer remedies and recommendations for corrective action.
The mission is informed by a set of RJTF Core Values which will guide our ongoing work throughout the 2020/2021 academic year. In addition to the nearly thirty members appointed by President Clark, we then recruited close to forty talented members of our faculty, staff, and student body to serve on one of the six RJTF Subcommittees. Each Subcommittee has a distinct focus based upon consistent themes and concerns that emerged during the Racial Justice Forums, the Amplify event, the student list of demands, as well as student focus groups conducted in 2019. Further, we developed an RJTF Subcommittee Charter to guide our work and emphasize the importance of this process - a process that will be intentional and inclusive, thorough and deliberate. A process that will be open to exploration of new issues, concerns, and opportunities that may emerge, and ultimately lead to sustainable change.
Across campus, divisional liaisons are working with the Subcommittees to gather data and information to support the exploration and questions we are seeking to address including: data on enrollment and retention, hiring practices and experiences, interactions with campus police, how and what we are teaching, our approach to problem solving and resolution, our communication and outreach practices, and examining how we engage and work together as a community. We are extremely grateful to all who are helping and supporting this work.
Building an Inclusive and Equitable Community
The Task Force came together following the painful and senseless killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. Tragically, the list of names has grown, most recently this very week with Walter Wallace Jr., continually underscoring the importance of our collective work and reaffirming that black lives do, indeed, matter. The urgency of the times and the energy of a movement have mobilized our community to take stock, to step back and make lasting change that ultimately will strengthen our entire community.
We know that BSU is not a perfect place; if it were, there would be no need for the Task Force. We also know that perfection is not our goal – our goal is equity, inclusion, and excellence. We recognize that BSU is committed to interrogating its own practices and making positive change. BSU is and will continue to be a diverse community, and there is strength in that diversity. We seek to harness that strength, to turn that into action that will advance the causes of social justice and racial justice and, in the process, make this University a model of inclusion and equity for all.
At a recent meeting, Task Force members spent time discussing inclusion, equity, and community. We agreed that being part of a community is desirable. Particularly when that community supports, nurtures, and allows one to grow, contribute, and feel secure. But we also wondered what happens when communities are not inclusive, when policies and practices are not equitable and contribute to exclusion.
The only responsible outcome is to do what we will do - identify the impediments to racial equity and take corrective action. We want and need a community that is truly inclusive and equitable, that benefits all members and makes room for new ideas and continued growth and change. BSU is also part of a wider, global community – it is not static and it, we, will continue to change. How we change and adapt and how we hold ourselves accountable are essential.
These are challenging times, but as John Lewis reminds us “adversity can breed unity, hatred can give way to love, we have to go forward as one people, one family, one house.”
Racial Justice Updates, Events, and Resources
We encourage you to regularly visit the Racial Justice at BSU website, which is a source of information about not only the Task Force, but about all of the important work happening right now across the campus and the community to educate, engage, and make change. We look forward to keeping you informed of our progress as we continue with our work and we will look for an opportunity to provide a campus briefing later in the semester.
We also encourage all of you to vote. Voting is one of the ways that we exercise our rights within a democracy, it is a right that we must not ever give up.
Be Well, Sincerely,
Dr. Mary Grant
Dr. Carolyn Petrosino
Co-chairs, Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice