On Wednesday, October 21, the Black Student Union (BSU) posted the following statement on its Instagram homepage, an open letter to the Clark community: “We are a collective of staff of color representing various departments across the institution and submit this open letter with much heartache and urgency regarding the rampant racism within Clark University….”
As stated by the Clark People of Color (POC) Collective, racism continues to pose a threat to Black students and marginalized students of color in the Clark community who are additionally impacted by the stressors of COVID-19. The open letter also discloses how there has been no current institutional response from the Chief Officer for Diversity and Inclusion and Human Resources in regards to Clark’s biased hiring process—offices that claim to champion diversity and confront issues on racial inequalities at Clark—in addition to a lack of response from Clark University President David B. Fithian.
According to the POC Collective, Clark University does not have an evaluative process to ensure that equity standards and diversity and inclusion practices are met within a hiring process that favors White groups, “ …How can the institution make progress toward equity when our leadership is not even held accountable to follow institutional practices?”.
Given their indecisiveness in confronting racial issues and inequalities faced by students of color head-on and the lack of transparency and commitment to students, the Clark administration is exposed as a decentralized body in direct opposition to Clark University’s motto in providing diverse, inclusive, and supportive educational services which are continually advertised as an ideal—an ideal that as an institution, Clark University capitalizes on and serves a white culture.
Earlier in October, the BSU made news headlines while the administration has been quiet on these fronts in explicitly addressing Clark’s institutional and systemic racism. As noted in a recent article by the Worcester Business Journal, “As shown at Clark University, a summer of steps toward racial equity are just part of a larger discussion”: “[Although] Clark delved head-first into discourse around police brutality and committed to new anti-racism training for staff and students, [the] further unfulfilled demands put forth by Clark’s Black Student Union – centered around directly addressing on-campus racism and overhauling the college’s culture.”
As a committed institution, Clark University is “a long way from comprehensively addressing the deep-rooted issues surrounding racism” and achieving racial equity among Clark faculty and its employed students of color.
Yet the BSU continued rallying this fall semester. Earlier in September, the Virtual Club Fair was put to halt in support of BSU’s initiatives and demands. As of right now, there has been no address or direct response from the administration and a conversation on the club fair boycotts which occurred suddenly. On Sunday, October 11, a Black Lives Matter Vigil was led by BSU, and on the following day, a BSU protest was held asking the Clark community “to stand with us and to be with us as we continue our fight for a more decent, diverse, educated and accepting campus community.”
Although the BSU seeks to work closely with the administration to ensure their list of demands are acknowledged and embraced, “We continue to see talented, qualified candidates of color disregarded while White applicants who lack in cultural competency take their place, positioned as leaders who will address issues of inequity within the institution.”
The recent BSU protests and the administration’s quiet nature concerning marginalized students of color is an ongoing battle that must be fought in order for Clark University to be accountable for its own systemic issues. These observations and conversations carry over to social media platforms and Instagram pages like being Black at Clark, a platform dedicated to Black students and students of color to share their experiences of racism and prejudice at Clark University via an anonymous forum.
Ultimately, BSU’s struggles and triumphs as well as those of students of color like myself do not go unnoticed. Yet there is a promise, that the BSU is not just a “student club.” The BSU is a movement within the Clark community that aspires to create lasting institutional changes: “We are the consultants of leadership when you need to address racial trauma” and the leading advocates on social equity, antiracism, and racial discourses being held at Clark.
For up to date information on the BSU visit their Instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/bsu.clarku/?hl=en
For detailed information on BSU’s initiatives, you can visit their website here: https://linktr.ee/bsu.clarku