"Despite being an institution with a value statement that rejects 'all forms of bias, discrimination, xenophobia and violence,' it was evident to [President Clark] that words must be backed up with clear evidence and visible, meaningful action across the entire university."
Welcome to this inaugural edition of Action: Racial Justice and Equity at Bridgewater State University. As the title suggests, this new e-publication is primarily designed to provide tangible examples of how the university is working to advance the cause of racial justice and equity through its commitment to implementing the recommendations from the Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice (May 2021). In addition, we envision that this publication will present news items and stories that take the pulse of racial justice and equity at BSU now and into the future.
For readers new to the university, the task force was created in the aftermath of the abhorrent murder of George Perry Floyd Jr., an African-American man, at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. After meeting with students and alumni in the days following the murder, President Frederick W. Clark Jr. learned that BSU was not immune to charges of racism. Despite being an institution with a value statement that rejects “all forms of bias, discrimination, xenophobia and violence,” it was evident to him that words must be backed up with clear evidence and visible, meaningful action across the entire university. The far-reaching task force brought together many dedicated members of the BSU community (during the height of the COVID-19 global pandemic) for an entire academic year to reflect on how the university can live up to the ideals described in the value statement.
Through six sub-committees – curricula and co-curricula; BSU workforce; education, training, and continued learning opportunities for faculty, staff, and students; investing in and supporting students; police and public safety; and creating a place for ongoing support, problem solving, reporting resolution, and response – the task force presented more than 70 recommendations for consideration. As mentioned earlier, this new e-publication will present examples of recommendations that have been acted upon. Our goal is to build awareness of our collective progress, to discuss successes, overcome challenges and describe how we are all part of a grand project aimed at strengthening the university while also improving the sense of belonging that some in our community have not felt due to their minority status.
It has been said that Mr. Floyd’s murder, along with the deaths of other Black and Brown Americans during the summer of 2020, led to a racial reckoning that generated significant change in the United States and around the world. It has also led to a renewed commitment to racial justice and equity at BSU, an outcome that may never be fully realized, but one to which we must aspire to attain through positive change across the university.
Karim Ismaili, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and Provost