All posts by socialjusticecenter

Updates – March 16, 2020 – We are still available!

Physical spaciousness and social solidarity equals community care.

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We’re still here and available.

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Hello Good People.
Many of us are feeling like our lives have been flipped upside down. And just as we start to make sense of how the changing landscape will affect us, another wave of change comes. While it is certainly unsettling, this is what community care looks like today. It means caring enough about one another, even those we don’t know, that we are willing to make the necessary changes in our lives so we can all be well.

What if we shifted our consciousness to viewing our collective acts of change as the way we show care, compassion, and solidarity with one another? What if we re-framed social distancing as a way of contributing to social spaciousness in support of our communities? And what if we looked just beyond ourselves to those who are even more vulnerable? It might help us find moments of peace in knowing that we are doing the right thing for ourselves and for others.

– Sylvia

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Shout out to all of the people working hard to keep us safe, with special thanks to the maintenance and facilities staff for their extra work, to food services people for being extended family for so many students, and to #ecstudentunion for putting principles of mutual aid into practice by sharing information about campus resources, creating the free store exchange, and having people’s backs.

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Out of an abundance of caution and care for the Community, the staff of the Social Justice Center will be working in alternative ways that best support community health and well-being. We will continue to be available by phone, email, and online via Zoom, Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp, Google Hangout, etc. Please contact us if you’d like to connect. Follow us on Facebook/SocialJusticeCtr for some social justice nourishment.

Social Justice Center
Sylvia, Alayne, Samantha, & Jae
617-824-8528
sjc@emerson.edu

Healing and Advocacy
Melanie & Greta
617-824-8857
advocate@emerson.edu

Elma Lewis Center
Tam, Ashley, & Jeeyoon
617-824-8526
elmalewiscenter@emerson.edu

Title IX
Pam & Ryan
617-824-8999
titleix@emerson.edu

“…the things we should be doing in response to the coronavirus are really the things we should be doing as a way of being alive. They are about caring for ourselves and for each other, about building and supporting ongoing collective strategies of safety and wellness….”
— Susan Raffo, Coronavirus, Climate Change, and Community Care
www.susanraffo.com/blog

Updates – January 29, 2020

A Message for the Prophets, Truth Tellers, Advocates, Activists, and Organizers Among Us

Cartoon with two people saying, "How to survive the end of the world"This week, I had a chance to listen to the new podcast episode from How to Survive the End of the World: Learning from the Apocalypse with Grace, Rigor, and Curiosity, released by adrienne maree brown and Autumn Brown. These formidable sisters produce a powerful series that is actually not about the apocalyptic nature of our current worldly experience. Instead it explores the end of the world as a shift in the way we understand the present.

The new episode, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Prophet,” featuring Reverend angel Kyodo Williams and Lama Rod Owens, really spoke to me. In this episode, Reverend angel talks about prophetic praxis, or the practice of telling the truth of these times. She skillfully reframes the notion of prophets from the deified who speak into the future to those of us who speak to what is happening right now. Lama Rod notes that, in this sense, he, too, is a prophet as a truth teller. He also reminds us that the prophets of the past got stoned to death, hence the episode’s title, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Prophet.”

The power of Lama Rod’s comments fell hard on me in the days following the nation’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Despite the fact that history has made Dr. King’s ideas more palatable to the masses, the reality is that he spoke the discomforting truth of his time. His commentary on racism, white supremacy, militarization, and capitalism were perceived as a threat to the status quo. These same ideas fifty years later continue to be viewed as extreme and disruptive, even among those who view themselves as liberal.

Reverend angel astutely reminds us that while some of us are working to reveal the truth of this time, others are working to “hold the veil down.” Her words remind me of the arduous nature of social justice work and the depth of resistance there is to the truth that prophets tell. I certainly don’t claim to be a prophet, but I know in speaking truth I, too, might get “stoned,” silenced, ostracized, and accused of colluding. The resistance is real and Lama Rod is right. It is hard out here.

So, how do we continue to speak truth in the face of those who don’t want the truth unveiled? How do we hold onto the truth of these time regardless of the resistance and the risks? How do we persevere when systemic change seems so far out of reach?  Sadly, I don’t have any answers to these questions.

The only thing I know for sure is that we must continue to give voice, we must continue to speak the truth of these times, and we must continue to engage in the prophetic praxis to which Reverend angel refers.

To all of the prophets, truth tellers, advocates, activists, and organizers, your work is not in vain and your voices are not lost in the wind.  Your truth-telling travels across time and space to other likeminded people, bringing light into darkness so that others will know that they are not alone. And standing on the shoulders of imaginaries, like Octavia Butler, you, my friends, are speaking truth into a new future.

“The time for radical liberation is now.” — Reverend angel Kyodo Williams

Notes: Reverend angel Kyodo Williams is a writer, activist, and ordained Zen priest. She is author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace (2000), and co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation (2016). Lama Rod Owens is an author, activist, and authorized Lama (Buddhist Teacher) in the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism and is considered one of the leaders of his generation of Buddhist teachers. He is co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation.

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"Bias" written in black and white letteringBias and Identity-Based Harm

Since the Bias Incident Response process was developed in 2015, the Social Justice Center has heard from community members of more than 180 experiences of bias, micro-aggression, and identity-based harm. These are personal and collective stories of deep hurt for individuals in our community, and also include incidents like those that occurred on campus over the past two weeks.

Can you imagine what it might feel like to wake up to anti-Semitic or racist graffiti written all over your neighborhood or on the front door of your home? This is what happened at Emerson last week. Can you imagine how scary it might feel to know that your community, your cultural or religious group, has been targeted? This is what happened here last week. Can you imagine how it might feel to have your sense of safety and belonging shaken? This is what happened last week.

While there are certainly members of the community who may be most impacted, I would hope that all of us are deeply affected by what has happened. In so many ways, this is our neighborhood and the members of our community have been hurt. In the face of these incidents, how might we not only oppose those who seek to unsettle and cause hurt, but restore our community and become our better selves?

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Community-Centered Grants 2020

The Elma Lewis Center is pleased to announce the Spring 2020 project awards for the Community-Centered Grants for social justice work that highlight community-based knowledge, needs, and aspirations. Among the 14 applications, grants were awarded to four projects:

  • Mother Mercy’s Call to Create (C2C), a 10-month immersion pilot project to develop and document the creative process of a small cohort of creatives of color. Awardee: Johnette Marie Ellis, founder of Mother Mercy and Emerson MFA alum.
  • Generational Narratives, a project between EmersonWRITES high school students and their chosen elders exploring social justice issues and legacies of both oppression and strength. Awardee: Mary Kovaleski Byrnes, Emerson faculty and EmersonWRITES curriculum director.
  • Listening Tour of Community Leaders holding space for the construction of peace in present day Colombia using Theater of the Oppressed approaches and interviews with arts organizers in collaboration with ReconectandoLa Familia Ayara, and Otra Escuela, based in Bogotá. Awardee: Kate Wand, Emerson MFA graduate student.
  • Reclaim Puerto Rico, showcasing their first theater play, Las 5 Mujeres de Caguax, a multigenerational Boricua herstory of patriarchy and colonization survival, as well as La casa de abuela, an interactive multimedia art installation that consists of a traditional Puerto Rican grandmother’s home in the countryside. Awardee: Michelle Falcón Fontánez, Emerson MFA graduate student and documentary filmmaker.
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What Inspires Us…
In addition to How to Survive the End of the World, here are other texts we have been exploring.
“Overcoming disability. Overcoming is a peculiar and puzzling concept. It means transcending, disavowing, rising above, conquering. Joy or grief overcome us. An army overcomes it’s enemy. Whoopi Goldberg overcomes dyslexia… overcoming mystifies me…that concept requires dominating, subsiding, defeating something.” – Eli Clare
Cover of book "Politics of Trauma"The Politics of Trauma by Staci K. Haines
“Transformation gives us more choice and agency, while helping us to ask and answer the deep questions of creating meaning and navigating life. It allows us to develop more trust, coordination, and love. We can be with ourselves and others with more presence and attention. It helps us build the skills that trauma and oppression did not teach us – and to use those skills toward equity, interdependence, and a radically different relationship to the planet. It is transformation that sustains over time.” – Staci K. Haines
Emerson College
(617) 824-8528

 

Updates – November 21, 2019

Welcome New Staff

Ryan Milligan, Deputy Title IX Coordinator & Investigator
Photo of Ryan MulliganWe are pleased to announce that Ryan Milligan will join the Emerson community as the new Deputy Title IX Coordinator & Investigator beginning January 6, 2020. We wish to extend our sincere gratitude to the Emerson students, staff, and faculty who were engaged and provided feedback during this search process.

Ryan joins Emerson after serving in the Office of Equal Opportunity at Tufts University where he was the lead Title IX investigator. Prior to Tufts, Ryan spent nearly 10 years as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Education with  the Office for Civil Rights, addressing issues related to all forms of discrimination including sexual misconduct.

In addition to his deep investigative experience in Title IX and his commitment to trauma-informed practices, Ryan brings a background in initiating university-wide partnerships and initiatives to address climate concerns in athletics, fraternity and sorority life, student groups, and study abroad programs. He is also skilled in policy review and the development of training programs for campus communities. In the role of Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Investigator, Ryan will assist with the coordination, response, investigation, and resolution of reports of violations of the College’s Title IX policies.

Please join the Social Justice Center in welcoming Ryan to the community this January.
Jae Williams, Director of Special Projects
Photo of Jae Williams
We are also excited to share that Jae Williams, Emerson ’08 and ’16, has joined the Social Justice Center as Director of Special Projects. Jae brings a range of talents to this position including expertise as a content strategist, previous experience launching and growing social action efforts, and a deep commitment to supporting access to education and the arts for communities who are often marginalized.Most recently, Jae served as affiliated faculty in Communication Studies where he taught digital storytelling, argument and advocacy, and public affairs. He also has substantial professional experience in content creation and strategic communications, having served as founder and CEO of Culture Key Agency, where he worked with a range of social action organizations as they developed their social media and marketing strategies. Jae is also the founder and executive director of Forever Ink Foundation, an organization created to support Boston area community members in their exploration of creative experiences through the visual arts. The organization’s programs include the Forever Ink Mentoring program, the Reel Life Experience, and the Celebration of the Arts Red Carpet Experience. Among other roles, Jae previously served as Director of Marketing and Content Strategy for the Toronto based company OneClass, and as Associate Director of Content Strategy at Emerson.We are thrilled to have Jae join the Social Justice Center. In his role as Director of Special Projects, Jae will be responsible for moving select SJC projects from ideation to implementation. He will also work in collaboration with the Elma Lewis Center to deepen relationships and partnerships that advance material change in the Boston community. Please join us in welcoming Jae back to Emerson.
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Community-Centered Grant Application Deadline December 5, 2019
The Elma Lewis Center invites students, staff, faculty, and off-campus community members working with social justice projects or courses to apply for a Community-Centered Grant. This grant is intended to support partnerships rooted in authentic relationships and trust that center community-based knowledge, needs, and aspirations. For more information contact elmalewiscenter@emerson.edu.
 
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Freedom Friday
Caring for yourself is an act of resistance.
Friday, December 6, noon, Common Ground, 120 Boylston Street, 10th Floor
Coloring books are not just for kids. Coloring can reduce stress, stimulate creativity, and foster mindfulness. Come color and leave with supplies to develop your own relaxation practices.
Poster advertising "Freedom Fridays"
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Logo of "Jumpstart: Children first"
Jumpstart provides children with the resources and education necessary to enter kindergarten prepared. Jumpstart Corps Members work with a team of their peers from Emerson to provide two weekly sessions to a classroom in the greater Boston area, as well as providing additional assistance to the teachers in their classroom. For more information contact taylor.gourdeau@jstart.org or stop by the Elma Lewis Center at 148 Boylston St.
Emerson College
(617) 824-8528
Facebook/SocialJusticeCtr

Updates – September 4, 2019

A Message from Sylvia Spears, Vice President for Equity & Social Justice
 

Welcome back Emerson students and faculty, and greetings to new members of the Emerson Community. I offer a special shout-out to Emerson’s staff who have been plugging away all summer with just a week or two of reprieve.

As the fall semester gets underway, I am struck by the throngs of students hanging out in front of the Little Building, a spot once barricaded with scaffolding. I am also energized by the buzz on Boylston St. and delight in the joyous reunions that occur during the 18 second walk signal across Boylston and Tremont. There is something special about that crossing; it reminds me of all the directions from which we have come to be here in this place and in this moment to learn, work, and create.

This is a time of significant transition for all of us. New students hope to find their way, those of us who are returning (or never left) try to settle back into a routine, and all of us feel the pangs of summer’s waning. The sun is setting earlier. Soon, the crisp fall winds will start to dance through the air.

And we begin again.

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New Social Justice Center Events 
 

The Social Justice Center is pleased to announce our Fall 2019 series of events and programs. See the full poster of events below. Gatherings range from Community jam sessions and art events in the new Elma Lewis Center space (148 Boylston St.) to our new Freedom Fridays program beginning this Friday, September 6.

Freedom Friday, September 6, noon @ Common Ground, 120 Boylston St. 10th floor
Grow Some Roots: The transition from summer to fall can leave us feeling unsteady. As the temperature drops and the winds begin to swirl, take a moment to plant your own seeds and grow greater rootedness. Leave with your own potted plant to add to your living space.

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Title IX UpdateTitle IX in black lettering on blue background
 
As many of you are aware, the Office of Title IX Access and Equity has been searching for a new Deputy Title IX Coordinator & Investigator. Although the College retains a number of external investigators who continue to conduct Title IX investigations for Emerson, we also seek to have a Title IX Investigator on staff. Our search processes last year were unsuccessful. In an effort to expand the recruitment of viable candidates, we have hired a  firm to assist us with this important search. They have been actively recruiting candidates on our behalf during the summer and we expect to be able to fill this position soon.
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"Bias" written in black and white letteringIdentity-based Harm (Bias, Micro-aggressions, and Structural Oppression)

In 2016, in response to student concerns, the Social Justice Center (formerly the Division of Diversity & Inclusion) developed the Bias Response Program in an effort to provide a central location for reporting incidents of bias. This summer, SJC  staff revisited the program to assess its alignment with our current foundational values. In addition, we sought to clarify the purpose, the scope, and the authority of the program.

Our new approach to identity-based harm (bias, micro-aggressions, and structural oppression) seeks to affirm the lives, experiences, and resilience of people and communities who are most marginalized, while also acknowledging that interpersonal harm in the form of bias, micro-aggressions, and structural oppression continues to occur, even in the places where we should feel most accepted and validated.

For information on identity-based harm or how to share your experience, please visit www.emerson.edu/bias.

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Community Centered Projects and Courses 
Are you a student, staff, or faculty member interested in developing community-centered projects or courses that are built on authentic relationships? The Social Justice Center invites you to a workshop about practices that do this within a social justice frame. Deep experience welcomed. No prior experience necessary. Light lunch provided.
October 30, 12:00 – 1:30, ELC, 148 Boylston St.
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Social Justice Center – Fall 2019
 
Freedom Fridays
Caring for yourself is an act of resistance.Freedom Friday, September 6, noon
Common Ground, 120 Boylston St. 10th floor
Grow Some Roots
The transition from summer to fall can leave us feeling unsteady. As the temperature drops and the winds begin to swirl, take a moment to plant your own seeds and grow greater rootedness. Leave with your own potted plant to add to your living space
Wednesday, September 18, 4-7pm
ELC, 148 Boylston St.
Music. Poetry. Healing. Organizing.
Storytelling and performances centering the wisdom of Boston-area youth sharing their journeys as artists, organizers, and activists. Join us for music, poetry, and conversation on race, immigration, and identity, as well as personal and collective healing. Featured artists: Angelina Botticelli, Thays Figueiredo, Gabriela Barroso, and Andrine Pierresaint.Freedom Friday, October 4, noon
Common Ground, 120 Boylston St. 10th floor
Got Game?
Cultures around the globe have traditions that bring their communities together. Playing games creates space for building community and growing skills. Make new connections, play some games, and have fun.
Thursday, October 17, 4-7pm
Common Ground, 120 Boylston St. 10th floor
Screen Printing for Activists
Activists and communities have long used screen printing to raise awareness in order to create change. Learn the basics of screen printing and leave with your own self-made resistance art, or create something for mutual aid, survival, and mobilization. No experience necessary.

Freedom Friday, November 1, noon
Bordy Auditorium, 216 Tremont Street
Slow Your Roll With Meditative Yoga
Yoga is about more than a physical practice in a crowded and steamy studio. Meditative yoga brings peace of body and mind, and renewed energy. Come find inner peace through a mindfully led meditative yoga practice.

 

Wednesday, November 20, 4-7pm
ELC, 148 Boylston St.
Truth to Power Jam Session
Bring yourself, bring your instrument, and join us in a celebration of Boston-area musicians from the African Diaspora as they speak truth to power through music and spoken word.

Freedom Friday, December 6, noon
Common Ground, 120 Boylston St. 10th floor
Color Outside the Lines
Coloring books are not just for kids. Coloring can reduce stress, stimulate creativity, and foster mindfulness. Come color and leave with supplies to develop your own relaxation practices.
Emerson College
(617) 824-8528

 

Updates – April 30, 2019

A Message from Sylvia Spears, Vice President for Equity & Social Justice

I have come to recognize the month of April as a time when tensions rise, student resilience wanes, and the hurts that have been held silently all year spill over into the community. What occurs is not related to workload stressors or the amount of GRIT students demonstrate. It is about the cumulative impact of daily conditions that slowly eat away at students’ sense of agency and their ability to maintain a sense of control over their lives and their well-being. What we have seen in the last weeks of this semester is about much more than a single incident or even individual acts by members of our community. This moment is about the impact of structures and systems that remain invisible to most of us and yet have an impact on all of us. It is a reflection of what is in the air that we breathe. For some of us, the air is toxic. Simply put, students have reached their human limits.

So now what? Do we turn our eyes away from students’ concerns out of our own anger, hurt, or shame? Do we reject the validity of students’ pain because we don’t like the way the message was delivered? Or do we sit in the discomfort of it all and work to right the real wrongs? I suppose one could argue that any of these responses is appropriate but only the last one will move us forward and toward a more reconciled and compassionate community.

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Poster for "Mapping the Margins of RePresentation at Emerson"

Mapping the Margins of RePresentation at Emerson: A Response to Students’ Call

The Social Justice Center recently released Mapping the Margins of RePresentation at Emerson: A Response to Students’ Call. Through the analysis of existing institutional data, this Social Justice Center study reveals disproportionate representation of specific student demographic groups in Emerson service or program interaction based on their representation in the Emerson community, showing systemic roots of students’ experiences of marginalization. These findings suggest that specific phenomena exist that may be having an adverse impact on specific student communities. 

Although the study did not seek to determine causal or correlational relationships, it is our hope that this book will serve as a catalyst for the Emerson community to examine what may be causing disproportionate representation and to create substantive change for students who are most impacted. In Mapping the Margins of RePresentation, you will find information about why we did this project, who was involved, how we approached our work, and what we found, situated in the context of national data, Black Feminist Theory, Transformative Justice, Critical Trans Politics, Abolition, and Decolonization Theory that reflects a broader structural context. “We hope that this work honors students’ lived experiences,” said Sylvia Spears, Vice President for Equity & Social Justice. “The implications of these findings are significant. We encourage members of the community to read the book, sit with its impact, do your own work, and move toward ways of doing things that create the possibility of freedom and liberation for everyone.” Limited copies of the book may be available by contacting sjc@emerson.edu.

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Bias Incident Reports: Annual Update"Bias" written in black and white lettering

This academic year, we received 48 reports of incidents of bias, which reflects a drop in the number of reports from the 2017-2018 academic year (68). There was a slight decrease in the number of bias incident reports received from students and a slight increase in the number of reports submitted by staff and faculty.

Faculty continue to be most reported as individuals engaging in bias. Bias incidents related to ethnicity/culture, race, and gender identity/expression continue to be the most reported types of bias. In the past two weeks, there has been a significant uptick in the number of bias incident reports received. Aggregate data for the 2018-2019 academic year will be updated to reflect bias incidents received through Commencement.

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Emerson 360 Community Climate Survey logoThe Emerson360: Community Climate Student Survey, which focuses on student perceptions of general campus climate dimensions as well as topics related to power-based interpersonal violence, was administered during the fall semester. The survey had a 9% response rate, which is significantly lower than the response rate for the 2014 survey (32%). The following is a high-level summary of the findings from this year’s Emerson360: Student Survey.

The highest positive score (94%) was in response to the statement, “Diversity and inclusion are important values to me.” Other high positive scores were in the bystander intervention dimensions, with 83% of participants responding positively to the statement, “I would report senior leadership, staff, or faculty who engage in power-based interpersonal violence;” 80% responding positively to the statement, “I would speak up to other students who make inappropriate or hurtful comments or gestures;” 78% responding positively to the statement, “I can recognize signs of power-based interpersonal violence;” and 74% responding positively to the statement, “I would report others who engage in power-based interpersonal violence.”

Of greatest significance this year is the drop in the percentage of overall positive scores in comparison to the 2014 survey. The overall percentage of positive scores dropped from 64% in 2014 to 53% in 2018. The lowest positive scores were related to statements regarding bystander attitudes. Scores related to fair treatment dropped from 70% positive in 2014 to 56% positive in 2018. In addition, knowledge of Title IX polices dropped from 66% positive response in 2014 to 59% in 2018. In relation to on-campus locations, 12% of student survey participants responded “yes” to the question, “Has anyone ever displayed behavior that made you feel afraid for your personal safety, feel fear, or alter your daily activities?” 5% of participants indicated being in a relationship with someone who tried to control them, and 17% of survey participants indicated that someone had made unwelcome sexual advances toward them or unwelcome requests for sex.

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The Elma Lewis Center Relocates to New Space at 148 Boylston Street

The Social Justice Center recently celebrated the upcoming relocation of the Elma Lewis Center to a new street level space at 148 Boylston St. The celebration, primarily for Boston area community groups, was standing room only for the entirety of the 3-hour event with an estimated 150 people in attendance. Local community members, some Emerson staff and faculty, security guards, and students filled the space. Local spoken word artists, singers, and other performers brought energy and joy to the event. We are pleased to share that some friends, former students, and family members of Elma Lewis ’43, were also in attendance — Barry and Sandra Gaither, Sandi Bagley, Larry Blumstack, and Kafi Meadows (Elma Lewis’s great niece) and her daughter. We expect to host another open house in the early fall semester next year.

Collage of photos of students socializing with one another

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Title IX UpdateTitle IX in black lettering on blue background

During the 2018-2019 academic year, 77 reports of violations of the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy were received by Title IX Access & Equity. Reports include a range of behaviors and are not limited to sexual assault. Of the 77 reports, Title IX Access & Equity received requests from 8 reporting parties for investigations. All requests were moved forward for investigation. At the request of students or based on the College’s own assessment, 21 instances of accommodations, interim measures or protective measures were issued. These measures include some singular or combination of interim suspensions, No Contact Orders, Stay Away Directives, housing accommodations, and classroom accommodations.

The search for a Deputy Title IX Coordinator/Investigator continues. To date, 31 applicants have been received, 10 candidates have been considered, and 4 have been invited to participate in first-round interviews. No candidates have progressed to on-campus interviews. Despite advertisement in national outlets and active recruitment, we have not identified candidates with sufficient Title IX investigation experience.

Social Justice Center
Emerson College
(617) 824-8528

Updates – January 30, 2019 – MLK Reflection

A red pin on a calendar date for February 21st, Martin Luther King Jr. DayMLK Reflection 

Each January, cities and towns, business and corporations, schools and universities mark the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. In celebration, we dust off our fragmented memories and pieced-together understandings of King’s life and legacy. Some communities hold church services that conclude with arms linked and slightly off-key renditions of “We Shall Overcome.” In some places, we step out of our daily routine to do community service, demonstrating our commitment to a “day on and not a day off.” And in other places, we come together to discuss society’s most pressing problems against the backdrop of King’s soaring speeches and compelling narratives – “I have a dream that one day…. A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…. Darkness cannot stamp out darkness only light can do that….”

Once during the year, we lift King up, resurrecting him from our collective consciousness. In doing so, we also resurrect our better selves, our yearnings for justice, and our dreams of freedom. We make King kind and generous, patient and conciliatory, and a champion for inclusion in its most sanitized forms.

We choose to forget the King who shut down White clergy who opposed him with the power of his pen in a letter he wrote while in Birmingham Jail, the King who out of frustration exclaimed “Why We Can’t Wait,” and the King who called out “The Three Evils of Society” at the National Conference on New Politics in 1967. This speech is considered one of King’s most revolutionary speeches but we hear little of it.

“We are now experiencing the coming to the surface of a triple prong sickness that has been lurking within our body politic from its very beginning. That is the sickness of racism, excessive materialism and militarism.”

Some contemporary writers consider King’s speech, “The Three Evils of Society,” a prophetic commentary on the state of the United States today. They are connecting King’s observations about excessive materialism to the present day weaponization of poverty, his remarks about racism to colonialism and the extractivist nature of our society, and his commentary on militarism to border imperialism that is taking place at our southernmost border and all over the world. For me, King’s work is relevant today not because of his poetic calls for us to be better human beings but because of his deep and searing analysis of what prevents us from being better human beings and a better nation. The problem is that we are acculturated to the supremacy of some and the oppression of others, the flow of capitalism instead of the flow of compassion, and our most base urgings toward violence instead of our inner callings toward peace.

Instead of relegating King to a single page in a history book or to a celebration once per year, we need to consider what King’s “radical revolution of values” would look like. What might happen if we all became “maladjusted to injustice”?

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Three stones with "thank you" written on themThank you, Suzanne.

After thirteen years of dedicated service, Suzanne Hinton, Director of Academic Engagement, is leaving Emerson. In addition to her time as a member of the affiliated faculty at Emerson, Suzanne provided support and guidance to generations of Emerson Alternative Spring Break students, worked hand-in hand with numerous faculty across departments to develop service learning opportunities, and partnered with community-based organizations in the Boston area. She also played a critical role in the College obtaining Carnegie Classification as a civically engaged institution.

Suzanne has been an integral member of the Social Justice Center – bringing care, professionalism, and compassion to all aspects of her work and every interaction. Suzanne has served as our in-house photographer, the lone caretaker of the many plants on the Walker 10, and the person who reminds us it’s time to tidy things up in the kitchen, to which we all immediately respond. She will be greatly missed for her kindness and support of all of us.

A few days ago, I asked Suzanne if she had any preference for what I might say about her time at Emerson in this announcement. She replied, “Well, you could say that I gave it the old college try…I learned a lot from some hilarious mistakes…and I became a much better listener.” This represents the essence of who Suzanne is; she is self-effacing, puts others before herself, and has an incredible work ethic. I am so honored to have had the opportunity to work with Suzanne during her time at Emerson. We wish Suzanne peace and abundant joy in all of her future endeavors, and look forward to seeing her walking her dog, Muffin Top, in JP.

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STAY TUNED FOR EXCITING NEWS FROM THE SOCIAL JUSTICE CENTER!

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Title IX in black lettering on blue backgroundTitle IX Update

Many of you are aware of the Department of Education’s proposed changes to Title IX regulations. These regulations, if implemented as currently proposed, would likely reduce reporting of incidents, increase exposure to trauma for people reporting, create an imbalance of support based on access to resources, and significantly alter Emerson’s handling of reports of power-based interpersonal violence. The proposed changes would require hearings in which parties are cross-examined by advisors. This shift has the potential to put Emerson staff members in offices beyond Title IX Access & Equity who are currently involved in the Title IX process into conflicting roles as process administrators, advisors, and supervisors. For more information about Emerson’s Sexual Misconduct process and the proposed changes, please see www.emerson.edu/policy/sexual-misconduct and KnowYourIX.org. I extend thanks and appreciation to members of the Emerson community who submitted comments to the Department of Education.

This flux in the landscape of Title IX on a national level has had an impact on our ability to fill the Deputy Title IX Coordinator/Investigator position. The search remains open and we continue to review applications for appropriate qualifications. Reports of violations of the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy continue to be processed and investigated by a talented group of highly skilled external investigators. We will keep the community informed on our progress with this search.

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Bias Report Update

“We are all wounded at times…many of us remain wounded in the place where we would know love.”  bell hooks

During the Fall 2018 semester, the Social Justice Center received 18 reports of bias-related incidents. The vast majority of reports occurred in Emerson classrooms and involved bias based on gender identity and expression, and ethnicity and culture. Although reporting is down this semester from last fall, there was an increase in anonymous reporting this semester. Follow-up on non-anonymous reports may include the provision of support to the person(s) affected, education for individual(s) engaging in bias, or other actions.

If you have been impacted by bias and would like to connect to someone in the Social Justice Center and/or report your experience, you can do so by submitting a report at www.emerson.edu/bias with the option of remaining anonymous, emailing bias@emerson.edu, or calling (617) 824-8528.

Social Justice Center
Emerson College
(617) 824-8528

Updates – October 10, 2018 – Indigenous Peoples Day

A Call from Native PeoplePoster reading "Indigenous Peoples' Day Boston"
Native people have been calling for an end to the observance of Columbus Day for decades. This call is not just about changing the name of the holiday. It is an act that recognizes the genocide of millions of Indigenous people, the theft of lands that began with the arrival of Columbus, and the historic and current wrongs committed against the Indigenous people and their sovereignty.

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Photo of Samantha M. Ivery

Samantha M. Ivery has joined the Social Justice Center as Director of Diversity & Equity Initiatives. Samantha brings depth of experience in advancing anti-oppression and social justice efforts. As a former Assistant Dean in the Office of Pluralism and Leadership at Dartmouth College as well as Director of the Center for Women and Gender, Samantha’s programs, development activities, workshops, and engagement with students and student groups were informed by critical social theories including Black Feminist Thought and Critical Race Theory. 
 
Most recently, as Director of Projects for Campus Equity &

Inclusion at Bennington College, Samantha developed the strategic foundation for the college’s new equity and inclusion initiative. She also designed and co-facilitated anti-oppression dialogue groups for faculty and staff, partnered with the Library staff to curate social justice online materials, and served as a resource to the Bennington Community around diversity and equity issues.

Samantha is completing her Ph.D. in Higher Education at Indiana University. Her dissertation focuses on undergraduate black women’s perceptions of gendered racial micro-aggressions. Samantha has taught courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. As Director of Diversity & Equity Initiatives, Samantha will work collaboratively with the Vice President for Equity & Social Justice in advancing diversity, equity, and social justice efforts at Emerson. Please welcome Samantha to our community.
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Advisory: This section contains information that may emotionally affect survivors.
Just the Facts: One in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, which for Emerson students would fill the Culture Majestic Theater. One in two trans people will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. In 8 out of 20 cases, the individual committing the assault is known to the survivor. Only 28% of survivors report to police. Only 2% of sexual assaults reported to police are found to be false (U.S. Depart of Justice). Contact the Healing & Advocacy Collective at advocate@emerson.edu or at 180 Tremont St. Rooms 303 & 304 for confidential support and advocacy. Report concerns to the Title IX Coordinator at 617-824-8999 or at titleix@emerson.edu, 8 Park Plaza, Room 230.
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"Bias" written in black and white letteringHave you or someone you know experienced a Bias Incident? 
Report anonymously at www.emerson.edu/bias or directly to the Social Justice Center by emailing bias@emerson.edu
 
Emerson College
(617) 824-8528

Updates – September 11, 2018

Over the past several months we have been questioning what it means to truly engage in social justice work. What is it that we are striving for? What is our urgency? Can we collectively envision the world we are working toward?

We have come to more deeply know that anti-oppression work is insufficient. It is not enough. While we mitigate the harms caused by oppressive structures and practices, and seek to disrupt our own internalized oppression, we must also call for liberation. This understanding has led us to ponder what it means to truly be free.

"Are You Free?" in white letters written on black background

Right now:
We ask, are you free? Are you really free? At locations throughout campus you will find black boxes. Grab a card, write your thoughts, and insert the card into one of the black boxes. Keep an eye out for interactive installations on Walker 10, in the Iwasaki Library Co-lab, and in Paramount.

Throughout the year: Poster reading: "Decolonize. Reclaim. Imagine. Manifest. A Future of Co-liberation."We hope you will grapple with us about what it means to decolonize, reclaim, imagine, and manifest a future of co-liberation.


Poster reading "Healing & Advocacy Collective" with drawing a tree branch hangingIn reflection, we have considered whether our office names and titles align with our deepening values. This is especially important as we think about the incredible work that Melanie Matson and Greta Spoering do in support of our community, especially those who are impacted by power-based interpersonal violence. We seek to lift up and recognize the power of authentic relationships, the importance of trauma-informed practices, and the incredible strength of individuals and communities, as well as their extraordinary capacity to heal. In support of our community the Office of Violence Prevention & Response has become the Healing & Advocacy Collective—a space for being believed, a space where you can be yourself, and a space for healing.


And finally, many of you are aware that I was hired six years ago as Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion. In keeping with our shift in focus to social justice, President Pelton has changed my title to Vice President for Equity and Social Justice. I take on this title with full recognition of the weight of the work ahead and hope you will join the Social Justice Center in manifesting a future of co-liberation.

Update on Gender Inclusive Restrooms

Dear Members of the Emerson Community,

Over the past several weeks, the Social Justice Center has been working with representatives of EAGLE (Emerson’s Alliance for Gays, Lesbians, and Everyone) and Emerson’s Facilities Office to increase the availability of gender inclusive restrooms on campus. In the fall of 2016, Emerson designated 12 multi-stall restrooms on campus as fully inclusive restrooms, meaning any person of any gender may use them. Eight additional multi-stall restrooms in high student traffic areas in Ansin and Walker will now be available. These restrooms are located in the following locations:

  • Ansin 2nd floor
  • Ansin 5th floor
  • Walker 3rd floor in the Iwasaki Library
  • Walker 6th floor

For members of our community who prefer not to use multi-stall gender inclusive restrooms, there are approximately 100 other restrooms on campus, more than half of which are gender segregated with the remainder being single user facilities.

I wish extend my thanks and appreciation to EAGLE for their continued collaboration as well as their thought-provoking Trans Day of Visibility Awareness Campaign.

As a reminder, gender inclusion is not just about restrooms. For more information about gender diversity, gender inclusion, use of pronouns, name changes, community resources, and restroom locations, please visit our Transgender, Genderqueer, and Gender Nonconforming Inclusion website.

Sincerely,
Sylvia

Sylvia C. Spears, Ph.D.
Social Justice Center
Vice President