Racial Justice Task Force: Where Are They Now?

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 the 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. We interviewed BSU’s Executive Vice President and Provost, Karim Ismaili, who mentioned that “there are over 70 recommendations” over the course of the past academic year.

According to the Task Force’s final report, released in May 2021, some of the most suggested recommendations were to increase diversity amongst faculty and staff, improve the university’s response to incidents, and provide better education/training on racial diversity, bias, etc. The campus community can expect in the upcoming weeks a new online publication by Provost Ismaili called Action. According to Provost Ismaili, its purpose will be “to clearly describe the action that we have taken around the recommendations”. It will include not only quantitative data but also content to humanize the issues at hand. In the last year, Provost Ismaili and the RJTF have since created a Student Advisory Group and also a Racial Justice and Equity Council that work alongside the Cabinet and the Board of Trustees as well. The RJTF is also currently working on creating an Ombuds Office, a place where students can comfortably and privately share concerns with an administrator.

These accomplishments did not come easy, however. Continuous follow-ups, maintaining communication, and building of evidence can sometimes make the advancement of the recommendations difficult. Nonetheless, Provost Ismaili added, “that doesn’t mean anything other than it’s complex, but complexity can be overcome.” When speaking on RJTF’s legacy, he stated “the Task Force will forever change Bridgewater for the better because we now have embedded opportunities to engage this issue.” He later continued, “what we need is constant reflection, constant renewal, and constant thinking about how we can do things better. Students hold us to account, and we should hold ourselves to account for that too.” 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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