Dear members of the Emerson community,
The ESOC Week of Action in November of last year shared once again the struggles and conflict experienced by BIPOC-identifying students on our campus.
These issues are not new, and we are sorry that students were yet again put in the position of having to organize to make their voices heard.
On Friday, 29 January, more than 60 members of the Emerson community met to re-affirm the College’s commitment to creating a culture of equity and anti-racism at Emerson. Those in attendance were broadly representative of the College: faculty, students, senior administrators, deans, departmental chairs, and staff. This was a significant meeting in scope and purpose, reinforcing the reality that this is a college-wide issue that requires college-wide action.
We are committed to grow in knowledge and empathy about the nature of our nation’s structural whiteness as a caste system of power, as well as the ways in which this power is embedded in the culture at Emerson as an institution. We are committed to using that understanding to interrogate and address policies and practices that exclude, diminish, and alienate members of our community and society.
We accepted our responsibility to engage perennially with the community to transform Emerson’s culture, so that all students, faculty, and staff can thrive and bring the fullness of their identities and spirit to learning and working together. We also acknowledge that our previous efforts have not resulted in meaningful change in the daily experiences of students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color.
We also accepted responsibility for the failure to address and dismantle the structural and systemic barriers that prevent some of our students from thriving and feeling a sense of belonging at Emerson.
Several significant and helpful perspectives stand out:
1. BIPOC students are sick and tired of being sick and tired at Emerson College.
2. Previous and current actions taken by administrative leaders and faculty to create a more equitable and anti-racist environment are insufficient to addressing a “deeper and complex set of issues.”
3. The Mission Statement observes that “we cannot continue to drag our feet in cyclical conversations without addressing the root of our problems.”
Despite administrative and faculty efforts to address student concerns, the College has not sufficiently deconstructed the structural and systemic barriers embedded in our institutional culture that prevent our BIPOC students from participating fully in our commonwealth of learning.
We now have an opportunity to heed the call to action for generational change. Foremost, we must recognize that structural and systemic change is a community issue – not simply a student issue or an administrative issue or a staff issue or a faculty issue. Real generative change relies on all of us and it requires a community effort to make lasting progress.
1. Within the next two weeks, we will meet again with BIPOC students to present specific measures and responses to the list of demands. Members of the Emerson community are welcome to view the College’s action plan and progress here: https://www.emerson.edu/community-action-plan. Please also visit the Academic Affairs webpages to view action plans for individual academic departments: https://www.emerson.edu/departments/academic-affairs/academic-inclusive-excellence.
2. We will revise these specific measures and responses to reflect the discussion with students.
3. We will outline measurable goals and commitments as well as lines of responsibilities for each.
4. We will identify external assistance with expertise in anti-racist practices to inaugurate with us a strategic and focused process of cultural change.
Lee Pelton, President
Maria Agui Carter, Assistant Professor, Visual & Media Arts
Martie Cook, Professor and Founding Director for the Center for Comedic Arts
Meredith Ainbinder, Vice President, General Counsel
Amy Ansell, Professor and Dean of Liberal Arts, Marlboro Institute
Julie Avis Rogers, Chaplain, Director of Religious & Spiritual Life
Robert Bousquet, Lieutenant, ECPD
Sofiya Cabalquinto, Associate Vice President of Communications & Marketing
Timothy Chang, Associate Dean of Students and Chief Operations Officer, Emerson Los Angeles
Robert Colby, Professor and Chair of Performing Arts
Paul Dworkis, Vice President, Administration & Finance
Sebastian Ferrada, Assistant Professor, Marlboro Institute
Ruth Grossman, Assistant Professor, Chair of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Deion Hawkins, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies
James Hoppe, Vice President and Dean of Campus Life, Student Affairs
David Howse, Vice President, Office of the Arts; Executive Director, ArtsEmerson
Margaret Ings, Vice President, Government and Community Relations
Samantha M. Ivery, Director of Diversity & Equity Initiatives, Social Justice Center
Tamia Jordan, Director of Intercultural Student Affairs
Roy Kamada, Associate Professor and Chair of Writing, Literature and Publishing
Janet Kolodzy, Professor and Chair, Journalism
Cristina Kotz Cornejo, Professor and Chair, Visual and Media Arts
Dennis Levine, Chairman Emerson Staff Union\SEIU 888, Systems Security Administrator
Kristin Lieb, Associate Professor, Marketing Communication
Ruthanne Madsen, Vice President, Enrollment
John Malcolm, Vice President, Institutional Advancement
Barry Marshall, President, AFEC-AAUP, Senior Affiliated Faculty, VMA,
Heather May, Senior Lecturer and Faculty Assembly Chair
Kimberly McLarin, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director, Writing Literature & Publishing
Dulcia Meijers, Executive Director, Kasteel Well
Paul Mihailidis, Associate Professor, Assistant Dean and Graduate Program Director, Journalism
Tikesha Morgan, Senior Advisor for Student Affairs, Kasteel Well
Cara Moyer-Duncan, Associate Professor, Marlboro Institute
Russell Newman, President ECCAAUP, Associate Professor, Marlboro Institute and Member of Faculty Union
Wyatt Oswald, Professor, Marlboro Institute
Cheryl Owsley-Jackson, Journalist-in-Residence, Journalism
Gregory Payne, Associate Professor and Chair, Communication Studies
Anthony Pinder, Associate Vice President, Internationalization and Global Engagement
Raul Reis, Professor and Dean, School of Communication
Tuesda Roberts, Director for Faculty Development & Diversity, Academic Affairs
Jan Roberts-Breslin, Professor and Dean, Graduate School & Professional Studies
Elaine Rudel, Clinical Instructor, Communication Sciences and Disorders
Robert Sabal, Professor and Dean, School of Arts
Allison Sampson, Vice President & Executive Director, Emerson Los Angeles
Anne Shaughnessy, Vice President & Special Assistant to the President, Office of the President
Brent Smith, Professor and Chair, Marketing Communication
Robert Smith, Chief, Emerson Police Department
Sylvia Spears, Vice President, Equity and Social Justice
Shari Stier, Senior Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
Keri Thompson, Senior Lecturer, Communication Studies
Michaele Whelan, Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs