On March 26, President Clayton Rose announced a series of anti-racism workshops, to be delivered by the Racial Equity Institute (REI), that ran earlier this month on April 15 and April 24. The workshops, designed to build a dialogue as well as generate awareness regarding racial discrepancies in American culture, were a success, according to Benje Douglas, associate vice president for Inclusion and Diversity.
“We had almost three hundred participants across the two sessions,” Douglas wrote in an email to the Orient. “The feedback we’ve received so far from the students, faculty and staff who participated has been very positive—so I would say [the workshops] went well.”
As Douglas explained, these workshops were designed to build awareness, something that the organizers felt was necessary to begin implementing change.
“Understanding the structural causes of racial inequity is fundamental to preparing our community to begin the work of eradicating the structures, behaviors and practices at the heart of the problem and to make change in the world,” Douglas wrote.
Douglas said he wanted students to walk away from the workshop with a greater understanding of racial and ethnic inequities in the United States.
“I hope that workshop attendees left the workshops understanding that we live in a racially structured society,” Douglas wrote. “Until we address the structural roots of racism—or groundwater—we cannot make meaningful progress.”
Douglas acknowledged that comprehensively addressing the topic of racial inequity is near impossible given the time restraints of a three-hour long workshop, however, the College’s reasoning behind introducing the program was mostly based on growing awareness.
“Bowdoin is committed to doing this work well,” Douglas wrote. “The work is hard and we’re receptive to feedback, suggestion[s] and guidance. We’re at the beginning of the journey (in many ways) that for some this work is second nature and for others is a whole new world.”
“That is exciting to me,” Douglas said. “DiversityEdu and the [REI] workshop are our first campus-wide offerings, but there will be many more as we continue building the community we want to have.”