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Helpful Handbook

University finds ways to promote racial equity and diversity

Amid a continued commitment to racial equity and the success of every student, Bridgewater State University led the way in developing a new handbook to help schools achieve those goals.

“This handbook is really written as a conversation starter with campuses across the nation to share what we’re learning,” said Dr. Sabrina Gentlewarrior, vice president for student success and diversity.

Gentlewarrior, and Dr. Luis Paredes, director of institutional diversity, edited the publication. It builds on the work of the Leading for Change Racial Equity and Justice Institute, a collaboration of 31 higher education institutions convened by BSU.

The free handbook features 25 chapters of emerging practices that colleges and universities can adapt to help Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, and other students of color succeed. It comes as the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Abery, Rayshard Brooks and George Floyd laid bare systemic racism across the country.

“It is clear that the work for racial equity and justice in academia is necessary,” Gentlewarrior and Paredes wrote. “The question remains as to whether higher education will meet this moment by examining and transforming our policies, practices and pedagogies to ensure that racially minoritized students can at long last be supported in the fullness of their humanity at our institutions.”

The book shows how public and private institutions are rising to that challenge. It highlights several BSU initiatives, including the Honors Program’s campaign to enroll more students of color, the role of data in equity work, a summer program for new students with lower high school GPAs, and a racially just policing model.

“We also wanted to make some of the theoretical concepts practical so people would have a vision as to how to incorporate some of these practices,” Paredes said.

Gentlewarrior said the handbook shines a light on practices that benefit all students.

“By centralizing racial equity, we support the success of racially minoritized students and their white peers,” she said.

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