Rose shares preliminary plans for anti-racist work
September 4, 2020
In an email to the campus community on Wednesday, President Clayton Rose provided an update on the College’s plan for anti-racist work in the upcoming months.
“I am writing to follow up on my message of June 11 about our work ahead on race and racism,” Rose wrote. “The police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 23 is yet another horrible reminder of the relentless nature of racist violence and the continued necessity and urgency of this work.”
Rose explained that he, Senior Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity Michael Reed and Dean for Academic Affairs Jennifer Scanlon led discussions about race and anti-racism with students, staff, faculty, alumni and the Board of Trustees over the summer. Rose highlighted two main goals for the work still ahead.
“The first is to make Bowdoin better, to mitigate and work toward eradicating the structures, behaviors and practices at the heart of the problem and to make Bowdoin a place where everyone has the opportunity for an equal experience and a robust sense of belonging,” he wrote. “The second is to ensure that our education prepares our students to understand the problem and to make a change in the world.”
Accordingly, the College will also focus on creating sustained programming and training for the Bowdoin community around racism, with an early focus on anti-Black racism. In addition, each division at the College will undertake internal work to identify and examine the causes behind continued inequalities in outcome and opportunity, with a special focus on hiring practices and support for professional development for faculty and staff of color.
The faculty will also address a proposal to adapt the “Exploring Social Differences” (ESD) curricular requirement into a new distribution requirement, “Difference, Power and Identity” (DPI), that, if approved, would go into effect at the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.
“Each of us needs to be engaged on a sustained basis, to be willing to reconsider our ideas of how we understand the issues and the solutions and to be (as one of our faculty said to me) ‘radical listeners,’” Rose wrote in conclusion. “The work will make some of us, perhaps most of us, uncomfortable at times. But this work will change Bowdoin, making us stronger and better.”
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Rose: “The police shooting of Jacob Blake… is yet another horrible reminder of the relentless nature of racist violence and the continued necessity and urgency of this work.”
Respectfully President Rose, your proclamation of this occurrence as “racist violence” lacks objectivity and is more than a little premature. As the leader of this institution, you need to set a better example. The investigation into the Blake incident is ongoing, there remains no conclusive evidence as yet released to the public that this was an unlawful use of deadly force, and you are letting your obvious personal bias interfere with any rational sense of objectivity. This isn’t a black and white (pun not intended) case-closed incident as in the instance of George Floyd where what occurred was evident to the naked eye. The Blake case is entirely gray. Neither of us saw what the officer observed behind the car door that caused him to employ deadly force. Maybe the officer was justified in using deadly force, maybe he wasn’t – we don’t know. Be a leader, be an educator, maintain some objectivity, keep your personal bias out of the conversation, and stop stirring the pot.