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Students create new Statement of Culture as Beloit College welcomes new and returning classes to campus

Practicing ‘Self-Care is Community Care,’ Reinforcing a commitment to anti-racism

As Beloit College welcomes students back to campus, student leaders have released a new Statement of Culture which includes behavioral expectations to practice anti-racism, mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and contribute to a safe and vibrant campus life.

The statement also strongly condemns racism, acknowledges Beloit’s history as a predominantly white institution and supports recent demands set forth by Black Students United.

“Faculty and administration do not experience campus life the same way students do, and with COVID-19, we realized students needed to help redefine expectations of campus,” said Beloit Student Government Co-President Saad Ahsan ’21, who helped write the statement. “We felt it was important to update the Student Statement of Culture and add behavioral guidelines to reflect the values of the Beloit student body.”

Provost and Dean of the College Eric Boynton said that the College has been working on becoming an anti-racist institution for some time, but the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd and resulting activism have renewed the College’s sense of urgency.

With Dr. Atiera Coleman, associate dean of Student Success, Equity and Community and Erica Daniels, executive administrative assistant in the President’s Office, he is heading an Anti-Racist Liaison team that will use the Black Students United demands to frame the group’s Action Plan.

“Our plan will be driven by measurable goals that further our progress toward becoming an anti-racist institution,” Boynton said. We are really proud of our students, who are helping to establish the kind of culture that will allow us to stay safe and stay on campus. We all learn better when we are together.”

The Student Statement of Culture was presented to the entire student body for adoption.

College administrators asked the students to update the previous statement, originally adopted in 2009 and revised in 2014. Students worked all summer to create the statement, which also includes an addendum with detailed behavioral expectations for life on campus.

Ahsan was joined by BSG Co-President Pathik Rupwate ’21 and a team of 20 student leaders to create the statement and the behavioral expectations document.

Tara M. Girard, director of the Health and Wellness Center, advised the students throughout the project.

“I was blown away by their creativity and commitment,” Girard said. “They want to be on campus and they get what that means for the changes in their lives. The national narrative has been skeptical of students and their ability to be on campus and follow the new, necessary rules. I have faith in our students as leaders and believe they will, through their own agency and respect for their community, succeed and rise to the occasion,” she said.

The first section, “Self-Care is Community Care,” reinforces institutional social-distancing guidelines, wearing cloth face coverings, and the role of self-care and daily wellness check-ins in reducing the spread of COVID and allowing the College to conduct both in-person and remote learning. Other guidelines are for gatherings and residential life, Greek life, athletics and recreation and off-campus behavior.

Cecil Youngblood, dean of student life and chief diversity officer, said he is “impressed but not surprised” at the work the students accomplished over the summer, especially under the circumstances of COVID.

“We have always looked to our students for input in the most difficult times,” he said. “This was no different. Together, with their insights, we have established a pathway to return to campus this fall and into the spring. They have embraced the message that self-care is community care, and understand it is the only way we will be able to return to campus safely,” he added.

As students return to campus, the College also implemented a new Protective Practices policy requiring everyone on campus to comply with specific standards, including wearing cloth face coverings, maintaining physical distance, and completing daily wellness checks.

August 17, 2020

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