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Update on Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice

Sent on behalf of Davede Alexander, Dr. Mary Grant and Dr. Carolyn Petrosino, Co-chairs, Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice
Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020

Subject: Update on Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice

Dear campus community,

The Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice has begun its yearlong work towards building a more inclusive and equitable Bridgewater State University. If we needed reminding of how critical this work is, and the importance of affirming at every turn that Black Lives Matter, we witnessed the horrific shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This pattern of racial violence cannot stand, and as a nation we have a long way to go to live up to our highest ideals.
 
The first meeting of the Task Force reaffirmed our mission to determine elements of policy, practice, and culture that are impeding racial equity at BSU and to thoughtfully develop recommendations for an action agenda to make change. The Task Force further articulated six core values that will guide the hard and essential work ahead:
 

  • Honesty. We begin with an absolute commitment to interrogate any essential ongoing policies, practices, and cultural dynamics that, in whole or in part, negatively impact students of color and foster racially disparate experiences.
     
  • Truth. The Task Force is committed to fully identifying and describing those patterns caused by policies, practices, or cultural dynamics that negatively impact students of color.
     
  • Empathy. Among the shared experiences of oppressed communities are being ignored, neglected, disbelieved, questioned, viewed with suspicion, devalued, and treated disparagingly. The stance of the Task Force is to believe and to validate the accounts of students, alumni, faculty, librarians, and staff of color of unequal treatment at BSU.
     
  • Dignity. The Task Force will remain mindful of the need to reaffirm the dignity of students, staff, administrators, and faculty of color as we consider corrective measures and recommendations to address areas of impediments to racial equity.
     
  • Unity. It is the goal of the Task Force to provide remedies and corrective measures that will not only address racial inequity but will also work toward unifying the BSU community.
     
  • Equity. Racial equity is achievable if the Task Force progresses in a way that is inclusive, courageous, introspective, honest, and open, while observing the values that inspire and inform its work.

The Task Force also set about organizing itself to commence the work ahead. The organization of the Task Force into six subcommittees reflects the predominant themes that emerged from the two June Community Forums on Racial Justice and the August Amplify forum. These six subcommittees will include members of the Task Force and other members of the BSU community.
 

  1. Curricula and Co-Curricula
    What and how we are teaching both within and outside of the classroom about racial justice (high-impact experiences)
     
  2. BSU Workforce
    Recruitment, hiring, retention, promotion, and support of faculty, administration, and staff of color — diversity, equity, inclusion
     
  3. Education, Training, and Continued Learning Opportunities for Faculty, Staff, and Students
    Racial Sensitivity Training / Anti-Racist Training / Cultural Competency / Implicit Bias Training
     
  4. Investing in and Supporting Students
    Administrative and Organizational Support Structures for Students, including Admissions, Student Success, Academic Retention Committee, Financial Aid, Registrar, Dining Services, Academic Achievement Center, Tutoring, Wellness Center, and Athletics.
     
  5. Police and Public Safety
    Ability of BSU police to understand students of color and present in a manner that emphasizes support
     
  6. Creating a Place for Ongoing Support, Problem Solving, Reporting Resolution, and Response
    Seeking input from students of color; co-building and co-facilitating BSU initiatives with students of color; creating a space where students can directly report racial harassment, alleged discriminatory treatment, or other sensitive issues related to racial and ethnic abuse

 
In short, the Task Force has much to do and there is no time to lose in advancing this work. The work of the Task Force will be shaped by inquiry and data collection and informed by the voices that shared important perspectives and experiences during campus focus groups and forums. We are committed to a process of engagement and a plan for action. The Task Force will not only be making recommendations for change as the culmination of the process described here, it will be seeking to discover quick solutions and high impact changes that Bridgewater State University can make now.
 
We are also pleased to announce that the University is launching a Racial Justice website to share information about the work of the Task Force, along with programs, events, ways to get involved in working for racial justice, as well as racial justice resources across the campus and beyond.
 
Once again, we thank the members of Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice for their service and we look forward to working with you and the entire Bridgewater State University community in making real progress and change.

 

Sincerely,

Davede Alexander, Dr. Mary Grant, Dr. Carolyn Petrosino
Co-chairs, Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice