Response to Campus-Wide Demands: A Call for Racial Justice

Dear Saint Mary’s College Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Last year, our campus mourned the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others not represented in the media. There were many conversations and emails exchanged that expressed anger and utter pain. One letter that stood out was submitted by the President of the Black Student Union (BSU), Ms. Shilei Bell-Lipsey, who described herself as “a rising junior who loves her community.” In her letter, there was a direct call for Saint Mary’s College to put action behind their words of condolences.

The BSU letter was followed by a Black Lives Matter (BLM) Committee communication and another letter from the Ethnic Studies Department. All echoed the sentiments of the BSU, and went further to call for changes in the College’s administrative structure, in support services, and in policy and execution. Collectively, these letters have come to be known as the “List of 20 Demands for Campus-wide Racial Justice.” The letters from the BSU, BLM Committee, and Ethnic Studies Department did not go unnoticed. They galvanized people. They energized people in our community who were bystanders before and thought “someone else will take care of it.” This resulted in a renewed commitment by many students, faculty, staff, and administrators to “do the work.” 

I openly share with you that much of the call to action is being addressed, but as many of you know, anti-racism work is never over. The work is incomplete, yet there have been significant accomplishments: The Senior Diversity Officer is now part of the President’s Cabinet. Last week, it was announced that the position of Senior Diversity Officer will be elevated to a full-time Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence and Senior Diversity Officer. This is what progress looks like. Systemic change is not the responsibility of one office or one person. We all must do our part.

The Process

During the summer of 2020, we were all reeling from the COVID pandemic, but the work continued. A working group of the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence (CCIE) met often, and decided that a campus-wide conversation about the contents of the three letters should be discussed at All Faculty Day and All Staff Day. The demands made by the BSU, BLM, and Ethnic  Studies Department were combined, unedited, as one list; and what emerged were the following themes: Campus Climate, Hiring and Retention of Black Faculty and Staff, Racial Profiling and Harassment, and Curriculum and BIPOC Student Retention. In August, faculty and staff met in small groups and discussed these themes and the specific charge for implementation. The outcome was a commitment by several members of the SMC community to participate in systemic change on campus. Is the work over? No. Have we addressed every call for change? No. But progress is being made, which is essential when working toward positive change.

This webpage serves as a transparent platform for providing updates to the Saint Mary’s community on what has been addressed, and the critical work in progress as we strive for racial equity.

Please review each of the themes for updates on their respective call to action. We welcome your feedback, participation, and engagement. If you have any questions or comments please contact the CCIE at: askccie@stmarys-ca.edu.

Onward and Upward, 

Kathy Littles

Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence 

and Senior Diversity Officer

 

List of Demands + Four Categories of Demands: