A Letter to Students About Race and Equity Work at Goucher

Dear Goucher Students,

Like many campuses across the United States, Goucher has been implicated in the injustices pointed out by so many students who are engaged in protest and dissent with regard to issues of race and equity. I'm writing to tell you all how very proud I am to be the president of this college, whose students have been engaged in these struggles for justice. I am also aware of the stress and strain you have endured to help reshape Goucher and the world you live in while also trying to pass your classes.  

Last year at this time, a group of bold students of color came together out of frustration to tell the story of their lives at Goucher and to push Goucher's administration to make a number of changes to transform our community. Each of these demands has either been met or addressed in some way.  

While this is only a beginning, we are pleased with the progress Goucher has made over the past year. Click here to see a website created by a team of administrators, staff, and students that outlines the important work we've done on campus to confront racism and inequity.   

However, there is still so much we have to discuss and work through. And we will. Starting in the January term, senior staff, faculty, and I will schedule more times to meet and talk with you so that, together, we can shape our collective vision of what Goucher must be as the place of learning and development that serves you best.  

Specifically, I'll also be scheduling and hosting monthly community dinners for students during the spring semester to focus upon issues and progress pertaining to racial justice and equity at the college. These dinners will be announced via email, and students may sign up in advance on a first-come, first-served basis. Students will receive information about the first dinner by mid-January.  

Additionally next semester, Baltimore Racial Justice Action (BRJA) plans to work with the Goucher community to help us schedule trainings and customize workshops; partner with our Office of Community-Based Learning to ensure racial equity in community-based programs and volunteer opportunities in Baltimore; and work with the Human Resources Department, the provost, and academic department chairs regarding equitable hiring and retention practices, among other helpful collaborations. To help inform this work, please be sure to fill out this survey from BRJA, if you haven't done so already.

Staff members in Student Affairs also will be facilitating-in collaboration with students, faculty, and other staff-a discussion of our Community Principles, to assess their continued relevance to our community and our commitment to racial equity, and to determine whether these principles should be reconsidered and/or reaffirmed. Our principles should be an authentic reflection of the ideals our community embraces, and to which it aspires.

As a place of learning and development, Goucher gives us the unique opportunity to challenge one another and to be challenged on some of the most complicated and nuanced topics and issues facing the world's population. From the terrorist attacks taking place around the world, to campus activism about racial justice and equity, we have much to talk about. And our long history with and close proximity to Baltimore means Goucher's community will also be keenly engaged in discussions about the upcoming trials of police officers charged with the death of Freddie Gray.

Like other residents of Greater Baltimore, we will be watching closely as the justice system addresses each officer's case over the next several months. As these events unfold, members of our community will be encouraged to share and critique what they see, hear, and read in local and national media regarding the trials and their effects on the city. Goucher's Baltimore Working Group is creating a website about life in and around the city, a place where members of our community will be able to contribute stories and personal narratives about what's really happening in Baltimore. Please stay tuned, and please contribute your own entries.  

Each of us should appreciate that the diversity of life experiences, perspectives, and world views represented within our campus community offers us the very rare opportunity to demonstrate how to work together to create a more humane and equitable way of life for all our community members.  

For now, I urge you to take a few deep breaths, prepare for a strong close for this semester, take a break during the holidays, and reinvigorate yourselves to come back with renewed strength and commitment to make Goucher and the world a better place. I promise to work with you to do that.  

With highest regard and respect to you all,  

José Antonio Bowen
President, Goucher College