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Editor’s Note 9:25 AM, 12/9/2014: Please see the list of all signatories that has been added to the bottom of the letter.
Editor’s Note 5:23 PM, 12/8/2014: The Black Student Union disseminated the following letter to various administrative officials at 11:30 today, and electronically at 3:43. No edits have been made.
To the Board of Trustees, President Eisner and Vice Presidents of Emmanuel College,
Among many students of color of this campus stirs a deep desire for conversation and change. Over the past semester, students have been brought together by the realization that issues of race continue to create cleavages that degrade the cultivation of a true sense of camaraderie and community throughout this campus. However, we note that this realization is not the first; this is not the first letter to have been issued to the administration by students of color at Emmanuel College. Yet, we optimistically hope that perhaps through open minds, difficult discussions, and genuine attempts to understand it may be the last. That is not to say that conversations on race have an end; they should be ongoing and ubiquitous – not rare and explosive resulting from events that have been fortified by intolerance and silence. Tuesday, November 26, 2015 students at Emmanuel College were called to the JYC glass room as a result of the latter. The recent incidences of racial profiling and the failure to equally recognize the value of black lives alongside those of other races, ethnicities, orientations, or walks of lives prompts members of the student body who identify as individuals of color and their allies into action.
The call that we are answering is a call that is long overdue and is constantly at the forefront of our minds. Our stifled voices seem to come from what is a perceived lack of desire to understand and fully support the small percentage of students which solely seek to feel included within the college. The cumulative effect of this petty disregard has long inspired feelings of disenfranchisement in students of color; consequently students have been left to question the commitment of Emmanuel College in not only securing their wellbeing, but also, in the ability to be conducive to their success as collegians rather than commodities for the promotion of a falsely diverse and inclusive campus.
The purpose of this letter, addressed to all facets of the administration, is not only to seek to further the dialogue on race, injustice, and prejudice but primarily to facilitate indelible changes to the culture of diversity on the Emmanuel College campus. Mere coexistence is no longer sufficient; Emmanuel College students of color call for a level of respect, equal representation, and support that transcends coexistence and embodies equivalence. Such an environment endeavors to promote a deep understanding among all students bolstered by a dedication to learning the legacies and complex histories of the plethora of ethnic identities and their relationships to the Boston community.
We are living in a society that has encouraged us to passively wait for the time that justice shall one day come, but we realize that waiting is impossible when we as a community may at any moment become prey to racism, ignorance, and repressive actions in spaces we once knew to be “safe.” It is for this reason that we take action, adamantly hoping that Emmanuel College will be bold in their assistance and institutional support, and in doing so, demonstrate their belief that black lives matter as much as all lives. In keeping with the ‘commitment to social justice and service’ that the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur forged Emmanuel College with in 1919, we believe that fighting these injustices only reinforce the creed of the colleges’ legacy.
It is at this point that one may question the means students of color seek the institution of Emmanuel College to operate in order to mediate effective change in an atmosphere of problematic racial fissures. Having examined the past and lived through the present we ask that the following measures be taken to ensure an all-encompassing, welcoming, and mutually supportive institution in the name of the Emmanuel College community we audaciously have the hope to see in the future.
We, the undersigned Emmanuel College students, most sincerely request,
I. Cultural competency training for Emmanuel College students, faculty, staff, residence life and all campus safety personnel which addresses ways in which race is inextricably linked to institutions and social identities,
a. competency training programs should be respective to class year, department, and office so as to ensure educational and social development through specificity in order to uplift, support, and promote the growth of minority students on the EC campus,
b. competency program curricula must be evaluated year to year so as to remain up-to-date and effective;
II. Direct student inclusion in the creation and development of competency training programs by way of a student of color advisory committee specifically aimed to represent the interests of a diverse student body;
III. The creation of an administrative office of Multicultural and Diversity Relations Development which houses a professional staff that collectively provides institutional input and direction for the college all the while acting as liaisons for the students of color at Emmanuel College,
a. this office should include but is not limited to the following positions:
1. director of multicultural programs
2. director of academic curriculum development
3. multicultural hiring director
4. policy coordinator
b. the personnel of this office should at all times numerically resemble the ever growing population of multicultural students at Emmanuel College,
c. the personnel of this office will coordinate with the existing varying offices and departments of Emmanuel College and those that may arise in the future so as to foster multicultural incorporation in all aspects of academic and social student life;
We wholeheartedly request that the college move beyond an overall conceptualized diversity plan where we are taught to be global, and we request systematic and curricular avenues to clear and accurate dialogues about race inside the classroom and its relationship to our work and existence within the Emmanuel College community, in the Boston community, and in a modern global context.
IV. Reevaluation of recruitment methods utilized aimed at increasing the enrollment of students of color on this campus,
a. Recruitment methods aimed to target students of color must not be exploitative and misleading, thereby resulting in a misrepresentation of student life for multicultural students at Emmanuel College;
V. A more diverse faculty and staff that is cultivated through the aforementioned Multicultural and Diversity Relations Development Office including but not limited to:
c. counselors, psychologists, mental health specialists
d. alumni coordinators and correspondents;
VI. Increased funding to support offices that foster programming and services aimed to organize and execute comprehensive educational models focused on diversity, inclusion and globalization for the Emmanuel College community and Boston community at large,
a. this accounts for existing programs such as the NIA Retreat, Through the Wire Lecture series, and Genesis celebrations but also accommodates the development of new programs targeted at all members of the Emmanuel College community including students, faculty, and staff,
b. explores and implements effective community building and racial identity experiences found among institutions of higher learning from all over the nation so as to continuously champion for campus-wide involvement;
VII. A clear and concise plan of action outlining the ways in which the Emmanuel College administration plans to ensure the continued success and development of its students of color which accounts for their safety, their inclusion, and their voice;
We enthusiastically await the response of Emmanuel College, hoping that it utilizes these unfortunate circumstances to demonstrate progressive institutional leadership in its support of its students. Our goal in the above document is not to accuse or condemn this institution, but rather to hold it accountable and illustrate our continued investment in its legacy – past and present. In response to the request that the Emmanuel College student body has outlined in this letter, we hope to receive a detailed response from the administration in regards to how it wishes to accomplish these goals within the next calendar year. We are expecting a public response to this letter by January 14, 2015.
The Black Student Union and our allies :