Saint Mary’s responds to petition with actionable steps to support Black students
Observer Staff Report | Tuesday, June 9, 2020
In response to a petition signed by active alumnae, the Saint Mary’s president and Board of Trustees outlined 13 commitments in an open letter to be implemented immediately to support Black students and improve race relations on campus.
“We recognize that we need to do more work to make Saint Mary’s a truly diverse and equitable community, one with safety and inclusion at its center,” the letter said.
To start, College President Katie Conboy asked for six community conversations to hear from students, faculty, staff and alumnae of color to be completed over the course of a week. These conversations will help guide the next steps the College will take to be more inclusive.
“These conversations will be uncomfortable,” the statement said. “We are prepared for that discomfort and know that we must first sit with it if we are to begin creating real and meaningful change at Saint Mary’s College.”
To attract a diverse student population, Saint Mary’s committed to creating a scholarship to be used exclusively to recruit Black students and vowed to build new admission events to make diverse prospective students feel welcome and represented at Saint Mary’s. The College also plans to establish a Diversity Dialogues-style program for Welcome Weekend for the first-years and improve upon resources for the physical, mental and emotional of students of color and LGBTQ+ students.
In addition, Saint Mary’s committed to “report and promptly investigate any incident of hate/bias” and to increase funding for clubs and organizations that focus on diversity and inclusion. The College will prioritize the diversity of the faculty and staff and establish diversity training for all faculty and staff members.
While Saint Mary’s has implemented changes to become more diverse and inclusive, the email acknowledged there are more steps to take.
“In 2018, Saint Mary’s issued a strong statement pledging to disrupt the dehumanizing effects of ‘systemic and individual racism, both intentional and unintentional,’” the statement said. “We must continue our concerted efforts to bring these words to fruition.”