Racial Justice Task Force Update (Fall ’22)

The university’s Racial Justice Task Force (RJTF) was formed in 2020 as a response to the tragic murder of George Floyd. It is comprised of student, faculty, and staff representatives who all work together to combat racial justice and make Bridgewater State University a safe space for all students. Within RJTF are six different subcommittees that work with President Fred Clark on recommendations on how to tackle racial justice issues on campus. Since the formation of RJTF, there has been notable progress made.

We interviewed BSU’s Provost Karim Ismaili (he/him) who mentioned that there have been “over 70 recommendations” throughout the course of the past academic year. He is currently working on a new online publication called Action which will “clearly describe the action that we have taken around those recommendations”. It will include not only quantitative data but also content to humanize the issues at hand. The campus community can expect the publication to be released within the upcoming weeks.

The Racial Justice Task force is also currently working on creating an Ombud’s Office. BSU’s Dr. Pam Russell (she/her) is leading the creation of this new project and explained that it will be an informal and neutral space where students can receive help with any issue they’re having. The issue does not have to be related to racial justice necessarily, but could also be utilized for, say, a conflict with your roommate.

Anything discussed with the Ombud is confidential, and the office follows a strict code of ethics. The Ombud will work with the visitor to generate a list of possible solutions where the visitor can choose an option that they are most comfortable with.

The Ombud’s Office will differ from visiting the Wellness Center. One key difference is that an Ombud cannot directly advocate for a student, but they are able to suggest the student connects with a particular resource like an administrator, or to pay a visit to the Wellness Center. The Ombud’s Office is still in a developmental stage where logistics like standard operating procedures are still being worked on. Dr. Russell hopes to have the Ombud’s Office up and running in the upcoming years.

The Racial Justice Task Force’s Student Advisory Board is looking for new members and is inviting all interested students to share with them why they’d like to join. According to Provost Ismaili, students will be able to help the RJTF “learn and understand what students are facing…and to interact with peers and advocate for issues we may not be aware of, or that are delicate and uncomfortable to talk about.”

Students should be on the lookout for communications from administration and future events with the Lewis and Gaines Center for Inclusion and Equity (LGCIE) center if they are interested in become involved with the board!

Provost Ismaili hopes in the future that “every student has the opportunity to learn racial justice in the core curriculum.”

He later continued, “what we need is constant reflection, constant renewal, constant thinking about how we can do things better.”

If you are a student that would like to get involved with the Racial Justice Task Force, you can email Provost Ismaili at kismaili@bridgew.edu.

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