Dismantling Institutional Racism
On Thursday, June 17 2020, Black Students United (BSU) sent a letter to the college with demands that are copied in their entirety below. We embrace the need to continually re-evaluate curriculum, hiring, recruitment, campus life and culture, and operations with the objective of being as aggressive as possible in the on-going effort to dismantle institutional racism and to further our goals of equity and inclusion. BSU leaders, administrators, and faculty are working together on a plan that addresses current goals, needs, and realities. That plan, as well as ongoing progress on it, will be shared with the community.
Beloit College Administrators, this document is highlighting what Black students and Alumni need from this campus. Please read closely and respond swiftly.
Black Students United (BSU) and our Black alumni are coming together to reiterate the original Black Demands from 1969, with a few additions. These demands were put together by Black students on campus of what they required from Beloit. It is disappointing and frankly embarrassing that an institution that aspires to be anti-racist has failed to meet these demands by 2020. In this document, we are publicly requiring that Beloit College revisits our demands and demonstrates with full transparency how they plan to make sure that these issues are fixed.
Black people at Beloit College have to carry the weight of state violence outside of school and continued racist psychological violence everyday on our campus. This psychological violence manifests in many ways. First, Black students are framed as subjects of learning, rather than students who deserve equitable learning environments. Second, hate crimes and hate acts occur annually and the College lacks long term solutions to disrupt and ultimately end the violence. The recurrences are frequent because of Beloit’s inability to reprimand individuals and legitimize our pain. Finally, there is a culture of tolerating anti-blackness for the sake of ‘professionalism’ that needs to be addressed. Examples include, publicly condoning coded and racist statements/ideologies of students, faculty, alumni, and coaches, in fear of social and financial retaliation. The culmination of these factors is compounded by the fact that Beloit is a residential campus. Black students are expected to move on to a small residential campus where the majority of the students are white and make it our home. The residential nature and size of Beloit College forces that more responsibility be placed on the college to protect Black students so that we can feel safe in our home.
Racism didn’t begin three weeks ago, and this cultural movement is entirely led by black youth. There needs to be a reconciliation, so that we may move forward to being an anti-racist community, by recognizing the complicity of all individuals at Beloit up until this point. Not being racist isn’t something that can be done passively. In order to actually not be racist, we need to be actively fighting against racism. 51 years later Beloit College has still not fulfilled these demands, continuously proving to their Black students, faculty, staff, and the world that Beloit College is complacent to the anti-black racism that occurs on our campus. Until the following demands are met, Beloit College cannot claim to be an aspiring “anti-racist institution”.
The original demands are as follows:
(1) Full credit course offerings in African & Afro-American History, Art, Music, Philosophy, Economics, Government, Literature and Languages taught by Black professors.
(2) Mandatory courses on the concept of Blackness for student body, faculty, and administration.
(3) Admissions program aimed at increasing the percentage of Black students to 10% of the student body.
(4) Hiring programs aimed at increasing the percentage of faculty members to 10% Black.
(5) Sections of dorms reserved for Black students.
(6) Inclusion of relevant contributions by Black experts in each field of our current curriculum.
(7) A Black financial aid consultant.
(8) Establishment of a Black cultural center and meeting place.
(9) Institution of the High Potential Education Program as approved by the Beloit College Faculty.
(10) Revision of Area Exams to allow Black students to relate the required courses and readings to their cultural and social environment and that these be read and judged by Black professors.
(11) Revision of Upper and Under Class Common Courses to include sections focused on Blackness.
(12) End of harassment of Black students by maintenance men, receptionists, security guards and other college personnel.
We would like to maintain these demands because they still have not been met, but we will be making additions. To show the adjustments, the demands will be listed in chronological order, with the adjustments below.
1. Full credit course offerings in History, Critical Identity Studies, Art, Music, Philosophy, Economics, Political Science, English taught by Black professors.
a. The College does not have a Black professor in the majority of these departments, and of the ones that do, there is only one professor.
2. Mandatory courses on the concept of Blackness for student body, faculty, and administration.
a. Require Sex, Race, and Power as a required course for graduation for ALL students. It is imperative that this course is taught by a Black body, preferably a Black woman.
b. Required race training for faculty, staff, all athletes and coaches, campus club leaders and their executives, Greek Life, Residential Life (Director, Residential Life Coordinators (RLCs), Residents Assistants), Financial Aid, SEAL, Food Services, and all other offices that come into contact with students.
c. In the case of student athletes, if a student is caught engaging in racist behavior and/or behavior that violates the current outline of the hate and bias protocol, the following actions should be taken: student is suspended for the remainder of the season, they must attend classes on Race in America and the History of Race in Beloit, the classes will be graded with papers and exams, until all steps are completed the student will be unable to practice or play for the College.
3. Admissions program aimed at increasing the percentage of Black students to 10% of the student body.
a. The current percentage of Black students is only ~5%.
b. We also understand how integral students are to admissions. For questions about how to increase this percentage, please reach out to BSU members.
4. Hiring programs aimed at increasing the percentage of faculty members to 10% Black
5. Sections of dorms reserved for Black students.
a. ResLife needs to be more diligent when pairing first years with roommates, for the safety of our black students. Here is an example of what could occur when these considerations are not made.
b. In addition to roommates, Black RAs need to be placed in safe areas that will not negatively affect their mental health. Preferably with other Black RAs and students.
6. Inclusion of relevant contributions by Black experts in each field of our current curriculum.
7. A Black financial aid consultant.
a. In addition to the consultant, grants and scholarships need to be put in place specifically for Black students.
8. Establishment of a Black cultural center and meeting place.
a. Although Black students have the BSU house, the location is secluded and is inaccessible. Language students have WAC, art/dance students have Hendricks, Smith and art/dance house, international students have International House, etc. Black students need a space where we can study, hangout, and not feel like we are intruders on our own campus. Options include: the Powerhouse or Pearsons.
9. Institution of the High Potential Education Program as approved by the Beloit College Faculty.
10. Revision of Area Exams to allow Black students to relate the required courses and readings to their cultural and social environment and that these be read and judged by Black professors.
11. Revision of Upper and Under Class Common Courses to include sections focused on Blackness.
12. End of harassment of Black students by maintenance men, receptionists, security guards and other college personnel.
a. Security guards and their receptionists are constantly rude to Black individuals and never held accountable. Reach out for detailed examples and ways to address this problem.
In addition to those specific updates, we would like to introduce a few new demands that reflect the current political climate and will dramatically enhance the quality of life for Black students at Beloit.
1. Secure a permanent Black counselor in the Health and Wellness Center, give Black students priority when scheduling appointments with said counselor, and alert students when the counselor arrives.
a. Black students struggle with the stigmas around mental health, as well as connecting with white counselors. Reach out for more detailed examples.
b. Black students should be given resources to be able to pursue counseling during the space in time that it takes to find a permanent Black counselor outside of Beloit College. There are Black counselor networks available to those who are in need, and with our current worldwide situation of the COVID-19 pandemic it is an increasingly available resource virtually.
2. Update the website so the hate act policy reflects the revisions that Students for Inclusive Campus (SIC) developed in 2017. In doing so, be sure to include racial slurs as hate acts instead of bias incidents.
a. Being called the N-word is a hate act not bias incident and is an act of violence within itself. Bias incidents “do not involve violence or other conduct violating college policy” displaying a gap in the understanding of racial slurs as an enactment of psychological violence.
3. Complete compliance with the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in relation to artifacts in the Logan museum.
BSU needs to see changes by Fall 2020. We understand that some things will take longer to implement, such as: hiring new faculty and staff members, raising the percentage of Black students, and shifting our campus culture. However, it should not take another 50 years. For Fall 2020 it is the expectation that the following demands will be met: implementation of mandatory race training for the parties mentioned, graduation requirements are updated to include Sex, Race, and Power, ResLife must DEEPLY consider the procedure for placing Black students, the Hate Act Policy MUST be updated, and we NEED a space for Black students outside of our house to congregate. As stated in the document, if anyone has any questions or concerns about any of the demands do not hesitate to contact BSU at firstname.lastname@example.org or Aryssa Harris at email@example.com. It is never too late to educate yourself, the issue occurs when you do nothing, and refuse to acknowledge the shortcomings of your past.
Now is the time to do better and realize that we cannot truly Be All In until ALL of your students and alumni feel safe and proud to come from this institution.
Black Students United Members, Exec, and Alumni