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Joint Committee Tackles Diversity At Boston College

Prompted by multiple protests that took place on campus last year in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Boston College created the Committee on Race, a group that will address issues of race and diversity on campus.

The committee, which was created in a joint effort between the Provost’s Office, Offices of the Vice President of Mission and Ministry, Human Resources, and Student Affairs, is made up of BC administrators, faculty, and staff. Their first meeting was held on Aug. 11.

Vice President for The Division of University Mission and Ministry Fr. Jack Butler, Vice President for Student Affairs Barbara Jones, Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley, and Vice President for Human Resources David Trainor proposed the idea of the committee, which has already held three meetings this academic year.

“Based upon some of the challenges that we had on our campus last year, and the response to nation- and world-wide events, we needed a place on this campus that conversations can be happening all the time about issues around the world,” Associate Director of Campus Ministry Chris Darcy said. “The real world is here at BC.”

According its website, the group’s primary goal is to “coordinate educational opportunities that will further the discussion on race in the Boston College community.”

Members of the Committee on Race hope to create conversation between faculty and students on the topic of race, plan diversity events on campus, improve the resources that currently address racial issues, and communicate with students about the resources already on campus, including the Thea Bowman AHANA Intercultural Center, the AHANA Leadership Council (ALC), and different student-run clubs dealing with diversity.

“Based upon some of the challenges that we had on our campus last year, and the response to nation- and world-wide events, we needed a place on this campus that conversations can be happening all the time about issues around the world. The real world is here at BC.”

-Associate Director of Campus Ministry Chris Darcy

Ines Maturana Sendoya, the director of the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center and head of the Committee on Race, decided who would serve on the committee. The members were chosen to represent different departments and facets of campus life.

Because the committee is still rather new, members are still trying to figure out ways to involve students in the discussion process. Darcy hopes, however, that students will begin conversations and give feedback concerning diversity issues on campus.

“Students have told us that they feel that they look to the University, in terms of our leadership, to provide the environment in which they feel safe, comfortable, and respected and in which they can have these conversations,” Darcy said.

In the future, the committee wants to focus on connecting students with the pre-existing resources, including a variety of speakers to visit BC over the next month, including Professor Myriam J. A. Chancy.

She will be lecturing about “Dis(Af)Filiation Spectatorship and Cultural Transmission Across the African Diaspora.”

They are also bringing Ta-Nehisi Coates to campus, who will present his recent book Between the World and Me, which studies racial inequality in America. The committee also plans to promote AHANA’s Campus of Difference workshops.

These sessions are seminars, created by the Anti-Defamation League, that educate students on diversity and anti-bias issues in society. The Committee is open to new suggestions and seeks to tailor its goals to student expectations after receiving feedback, Darcy said.

The committee plans to meet every couple of weeks and will schedule more frequent conferences if issues are to arise on campus.

“We want students to know that not only this group, but so many people on campus are invested in where they are and if people are not feeling comfortable, then we want to know that,” Darcy said. “I think we also want to make sure that we, as administrators, faculty, and staff, are doing due diligence to students’ needs, and I think that one of the big issues is race and climate.”

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Senior Staff

Correction: October 10, 2015
An earlier version of the story inaccurately referred to resources for AHANA students as “AHANA.” The article has been corrected to reflect the fact that the proper names of the resources are the Thea Bowman AHANA Intercultural Center and the AHANA Leadership Council (ALC).

October 8, 2015

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