Statement of Solidarity for Racial Justice from the College of Organizational, Computational, and Information Sciences
It is a challenging and complex time for Simmons, our country, and the world. In the midst of a continued pandemic response, a growing economic crisis, and national protests that challenge a culture of systemic racism, we mourn the killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and grieve with their families and loved ones. We also grieve for others we cannot forget: for Natasha McKenna, Michelle Cusseaux, Walter Scott, Trayvon Martin, Ernest Satterwhite, Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, Levar Jones, Tamir Rice, and for far too many others who have been killed because of systemic racism and unchecked police brutality. We are outraged for Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young and others who have been victims of excessive force responses by the police during this time of protest. Yet the ongoing solidarity of protestors from so many walks of life, including civic leaders at all levels of government who stand in solidarity with protestors, give us hope that we will find a way through and beyond this moment, and that we can collectively move towards a better, more equitable society.
We say clearly and without equivocation: Black lives matter.
Simmons was founded by John Simmons to empower and educate women who could not attend other local women's colleges because of race/ethnicity, class, and financial barriers. Today, the Simmons mission, "to provide transformative learning that links passion with lifelong purpose," seems more relevant than ever. The COCIS mission echoes these sentiments: "We nurture a supportive and collaborative environment by embracing the principles of diversity and identity inclusion, developing the next generation of critical thinkers, problem solvers, and principled leaders who can solve the global challenges of the 21st century." COCIS faculty and staff have worked through curriculum reform, faculty development, student conversations, and revised hiring and retention strategies to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion on our campus and in our classrooms. Yet we are also painfully reminded that, despite our sincere efforts, this work has still not been enough and must be continued with renewed purpose. To truly live up to this mission, we, as faculty and staff in the College of Organizational, Computational, and Information Sciences, commit to doing the following in our own community and classrooms:
- We acknowledge that our Simmons community is less racially diverse than the world we live in. We are committed to increasing the diversity of our students, faculty, and staff and to creating a truly inclusive and equitable environment for all community members.
- We will continue to listen to Black students and others from marginalized groups, who have shared that they do not always have the same experience as our White students, and will take action to address their concerns.
- Similarly, we will actively ensure that the perspectives of Black staff and faculty and other colleagues from marginalized groups are listened to as we work on these challenges.
- To address some of these disparities, we are partnering with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and the Office for Organizational Culture, Inclusion & Equity to hold ourselves and our community accountable for changing the culture of exclusion.
- We will continue ongoing work with faculty, students, and staff to recognize and eliminate implicit bias, inequitable treatment, and unequal outcomes. Specifically, we will offer learning opportunities for faculty and students through a series of workshops and presentations on important topics, including white privilege, structural racism, managing difficult conversations, and creating inclusive classrooms.
- We will continue to update our curriculum to eliminate curricular bias; increase inclusion and anti-racist, anti-oppressive content; and ensure that we include compelling examples of leadership by people of all races and backgrounds.
- We will develop measures and metrics for these goals, will hold ourselves individually and collectively accountable for progress, and will regularly survey our students and alumnae/i to understand their perceptions of equity and inclusion on and off campus.
- We will frequently and intentionally revisit these commitments to identify additional actions that will move us towards our goal of becoming the most inclusive campus in New England.
As Maya Angelou liked to say, "Every storm runs out of rain." But until that day, we commit and aspire to provide a place of safe shelter from the storm.
We invite all members of the COCIS community to share their experiences, thoughts, concerns, and suggestions at any time, anonymously or with attribution, through the COCIS Suggestion Box. All of your inputs will be read by the Dean and shared with other COCIS faculty and staff to help us in our quest towards increased understanding, inclusion, and equity.