November 19, 2015
To the Clark University community,
I want to thank all those who attended last night’s forum on race, both in Tilton Hall and in Jefferson 320, where the forum was simulcast. My special thanks to the organizers and especially to the speakers, who unpeeled issues that are very raw and very real, and illustrated that Clark University has much work to do to ensure that this campus is an inclusive, accepting space for our students of color. We will be sustaining this conversation through the comments that were submitted online and on written postcards at the forum, which are being collated and soon will be shared with the community.
It is important to recognize that members of our community are feeling vulnerable and frustrated. Difficult issues were raised at the forum, reflecting discontent and anger with the University and with the current tenor of race relations on the national level. Intersecting issues that were voiced also brought to the fore the vulnerability and hurt that is being felt in these complicated and trying times. I urge all of us to show care and support for one another; to be welcoming and empathetic. While the forum was a constructive first step toward greater understanding, if we are truly to consider ourselves an inclusive campus we must walk that walk every day, in every encounter at Clark.
As I noted in my remarks last night, students of color for too long have carried the weight of placing the issue of race on Clark’s agenda. The demonstration at last Friday’s basketball game was a brave assertion that the time had come for their voices to be heard. Protestors had an opportunity to speak, but the crowded, noisy gymnasium made effective communication difficult. I admire their commitment to be heard, and I look forward to continuing the dialogue with those students and the many others who want to share their perspectives as we work toward improving this institution on matters of race, diversity and inclusion.
One theme that rang loud and clear last night is that our students are tired of talk and want action. I agree. In the coming days I will respond substantively to the issues raised at the forum and will outline steps to be taken to address these concerns.