Tag Archives: sylvia spears

UPDATES – MAY 2021

Exhale: A Meditation

This has been an unusual year. In so many ways, this year has been a portal; a portal that opened a window into the greater Truths of our existence. It showed us who we are, who we can be at our best, and who we can be at our worst.

It also revealed the gap between our dreams, institutional promises, and our lived realities. It illuminated a schism; a kind of brutal disappointment in the very institutions and systems that we thought would serve us. We have been holding our collective breath for far too long. We must embrace the power and promise of a long, deep exhale.

As more and more people become safe from the virus, our collective sense of comfort in the world slowly and cautiously begins to return. We Exhale.

As communities work toward change together, we see the possibility of transformation in places that were previously perceived as intractable. We Exhale.

As we gather together with newfound intersectional solidarity, we feel the power of collectivity and what it means to be in community. We Exhale.

As the Spring reveals its rich fullness, we recognize that all around us change is constant and we are part of that change. We Exhale.

And those of us who have been fighting for justice…we are coming to understand that justice cannot exist outside of us until it exists with us. We Exhale.

And as we move to the close of the academic year, it is my hope that you will now allow yourself to exhale. Exhale away anything that doesn’t serve you. You can Breathe now.

Breathe for those who no longer have breath.
Breathe  for those who can’t catch their breath.
Breathe for those yet to have breath.
Breathe for the planet so that she may be healed.
Breathe so that we may remember to remember who are and that freedom begins at the Exhale.

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Congratulations, SJC Graduates!
We congratulate Ashley Tarbet-DeStefano in the Elma Lewis Center for completing her MS degree in Critical Ethnic and Community Studies from UMass Boston, and Jeeyoon Kim in the Elma Lewis Center for completing her MA degree in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics from Emerson.On The Move:
It is with sadness that we inform the Emerson Community that Jeeyoon Kim will be transitioning out her role as Assistant Director for Youth Programs, and leaving Emerson. Jeeyoon played a critical role in guiding the development of some of the College’s distinct youth programs, more specifically, Creative Community Network and the Youth LEAD Sharon program. Jeeyoon has had a significant impact on the young people with whom she worked and has been a valued member of the Social Justice Center team. We extend our thanks and appreciation for Jeeyoon, as she and her partner make moves in the world. Jeeyoon, thank you for who you are and all that you have to done to create a vibrant learning community of young people. We are all better because of the time we have spent with you. Best wishes to you for what comes next in your life.

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traces remain the wooden bookSeed to Harvest: The Wooden Book, a touring book project where the people and communities write the pages, launched its Boston-area tour from Emerson’s Elma Lewis Center in April. Seed to Harvest: The Wooden Book is the first in a series of books that will travel throughout the United States and 14 U.S. territories collecting stories in the form of memories that will serve as medicine for its readers. In collaboration with Arts Emerson artist-in-residence, Toshi Reagon’s Parable Path Boston, the Traces/Remain ensemble is inviting people in communities to join them on a Sower’s journey that uses memories as medicine. You may submit your original content in response to one of four narrative prompts. The prompts include reflections on personal connections with trees, to memories of what you are ready to pass onto others for the purpose of healing, to what are you planting and what will you sow. Original poems, essays, short stories, articles, drawings, paintings, music, etc. may be submitted. We encourage all Emersonians to consider submitting their work. Entries may be made via email at seedtoharvestentries@gmail.com and more information can be found at artsemerson.org under programs.
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Title IX in black lettering on blue backgroundAccess, Equity, & Title IX
During the 2020-2021 academic year, Access, Equity, & Title IX (AET) received and evaluated 110 reports, 80 of which involved prohibited conduct under the College’s Power-Based Interpersonal Violence Policy. Reports involved a wide range of behaviors, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and relationship violence. AET authorized two requests for a formal resolution processes (investigation and adjudication) and implemented supportive measures in response to 21 reports, either at the request of students or based on an assessment by AET staff. These measures were singular or a combination of measures, including but not limited to No Contact Orders; Stay Away Directives; requests for academic, residential, or workplace modifications; policy reminders; and targeted inquiries for safety assessment.

BIAS

Identity-Based Harm (Bias)
This academic year, we received 39 reports of identity-based harm, a significant reduction in the number of reports received last year (62). The classroom continues to be where a majority of harm is occurring. Experiences of harm related to ethnicity/culture, race, and gender identity/expression continue to be the most reported, as well as an increase in the number of experience of harm related to disability. Over the summer months the Social Justice Center will be in conversation with Academic Affairs, Campus Life, and Human Resources regarding additional options for reporting experiences of bias, microaggressions, and identity-based harm that will allow for direct reporting to the areas noted above while also maintaining an option of anonymity for those who report. This revised system will allow Academic Affairs, Campus Life, and Human Resources to monitor, track, and respond to experiences within their areas of the College. The Social Justice Center will continue to provide support and advocacy for those impacted by identity-based harm.

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Summer Exploration

 

Decarcerating Disability by Liat Ben-MosheDecarcerating Disability by Liat Ben-Moshe. Liat Ben-Moshe provides case studies that show how prison abolition is not an unattainable goal but rather a reality, and how it plays out in different arenas of incarceration—antipsychiatry, the field of intellectual disabilities, and the fight against the prison-industrial complex. Her analysis of lived experience, history, and culture charts a way out of a failing system of incarceration.
https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/decarcerating-disabilityWe Do This 'Til We Free Us by Mariame KabaWe Do This ‘Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice by Mariame Kaba. What if social transformation and liberation isn’t about waiting for someone else to come along and save us? What if ordinary people have the power to collectively free ourselves? In this timely collection of essays and interviews, Mariame Kaba reflects on the deep work of abolition and transformative political struggle.

https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/1664-we-do-this-til-we-free-us

Sorrowland by Rivers SolomonSorrowland by Rivers Solomon. A genre-bending work of Gothic fiction. Here, monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire nations. It is a searing, seminal book that marks the arrival of a bold, unignorable voice in American fiction.
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374266776

Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals by Alexis Pauline GumbsUndrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals. Undrowned is a book-length meditation for the entire human species, based on the subversive and transformative lessons of marine mammals. Alexis Pauline Gumbs has spent hundreds of hours watching our aquatic cousins. She has found them to be queer, fierce, protective of each other, complex, shaped by conflict, and struggling to survive the extractive and militarized conditions humans have imposed on the ocean. Employing a brilliant mix of poetic sensibility, naturalist observation, and Black feminist insights, she translates their submerged wisdom to reveal what they might teach us. The result is a powerful work of creative nonfiction that produces not a specific agenda but an unfolding space for wonder and questioning.
https://www.akpress.org/undrowned.html

UPDATES – SEPTEMBER 24, 2020

Dear Members of the Emerson Community,

This community update was written before yesterday’s ruling by Attorney General, Daniel Cameron, regarding the indictment of officers involved in the shooting and death of Breonna Taylor. In many ways, the content of much of this newsletter feels out of sync with this moment and what some members of the Emerson Community may be feeling or needing in this moment. Regretfully, there is no measure of consolation that I can offer to sufficiently address the pain that some of us are experiencing today.

I don’t know all of what happened in Breonna Taylor’s apartment that night. We may never know.

What I do know is that Breonna Taylor was not a suspect of a crime. She was an EMT who was working to save the lives of people during a pandemic.

What I do know is that she was sleeping in her apartment when all hell broke loose resulting in six shots being fired into her body.

What I do know is that she is one of a long list of unarmed Black people who have been killed as a result of state sanctioned violence.

What I do know is that I am grieving for her, her family, communities of color, and those of us who don’t have the privilege of safety while we sleep, run, drive or even breathe.

Today, I will grieve. Tomorrow, I will continue to work for change.

– Sylvia

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The Social Justice Center has a number of new programs that are available to the Emerson Community.

Panic & Patience Podcast – Building Community Through Art, Education, and Social Justice

The Panic & Patience Podcast series is hosted by Jae Williams, Director of Special Projects in the Social Justice Center. This series highlights the work of artists, educators, entrepreneurs, athletes, and community leaders as they explore issues affecting marginalized communities, and how we as leaders can create space and support efforts of change. “This is a space where Black and Brown folks can see themselves and their experiences reflected all of their inherit brilliance, fullness, and power,” said Sylvia Spears, Vice President for Equity & Social Justice. This series is anchored in an understanding that this work is an urgent ever-changing process of dismantling social constructs, unconscious bias, and systematic oppression, while also working to build for a future that encourages cultural humility, inclusion, and community growth. Panic & Patience is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. Season One is available at Panic & Patience on Youtube. Feel free to check out Jae’s personal Panic & Patience website: https://bit.ly/ourpanicandpatience

 
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Radical Guide for Social Justice
A collection of texts, videos, podcasts, and other multimodal materials gathered by members of the Social Justice Center as we work to deepen our individual knowledge and collective practice. We share this collection for those who are also interested in doing their own work for social justice. These topics provide an entry point for further exploration into social justice, anti-oppression, liberation, and organizing movements. As you expand your interest in any particular area, we encourage you to take an intersectional approach by exploring other topics as well. Visit https://guides.library.emerson.edu/radical
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Healing & Advocacy

We’re still available and can connect via email, phone, and through video calls! Some additional ways to connect are though:

Trauma Informed Yoga
Focused on listening to your body.
Wednesdays from 6-7 PM EST on Zoom
Register at: https://tinyurl.com/Y67j6RN0

Support Group
A space for folks to gather who have experienced PBIV.
For more information or to join, email advocacy@emerson.edu

What We Grow: An Intentional Practice Community
This Practice Community is an intentional 8 week-long space focused on growing self-accountability in our own lives through relationships and cultivating a beginning understanding of transformative justice. This group is inspired by the article ‘Dreaming Accountability’ by Mia Mingus, her work, and the work of BATJC, Just Practice, and many, many other femme, trans, and gender expansive communities of color who have long been rooting into practices of community accountability. For more information or to join, email advocacy@emerson.edu

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A Book Club Won’t Save Us: Study, Act, Reflect, Repeat
What does principled struggle mean? More importantly, why does it matter? Join Samantha Ivery, Director of Diversity & Equity Initiatives in the Social Justice Center, in a 4-week series to begin a praxis of “study, act, reflect, repeat.” Participants will meet weekly for a month to:
  • Take personal responsibility for increasing our own awareness and knowledge base of societal norms linked to systemic oppression;
  • Develop critical thinking muscles to integrate dissonant themes into practice;
  • Build a repertoire of reflective practices;
  • Leave motivated to repeat.
SERIES #1
Black Lives, Native Lands, White Worlds: A History of Slavery in New England (Jared Ross Hardesty)
October 6, 13, 20, 27 – AFTERNOON 12-1PM
October 6, 13, 20, 27 – EVENING 5-6PM
 
SERIES #2
See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (Valarie Kaur)
November 10, 17 & December 1, 8 – AFTERNOON 12-1PM
November 10, 17 & December 1, 8 – EVENING 5-6PM
 
Registration: Click the links above for the dates and time slot of your choosing. Please contact samantha_ivery@emerson.edu for questions or more details.
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What we have been reading and thinking about…

The Four Parts of Accountability: How To Give A Genuine Apology Part 1
How To Give A Genuine Apology Part 2: The Apology – The What and The How
Mia Mingus is a writer, educator and organizer for disability justice and transformative justice. Read at https://leavingevidence.wordpress.com

A Conversation About Healing Justice with Cara Page
Cara Page is a Black queer feminist cultural/memory worker, curator, and organizer. She joins Isha Weerasinghe, a senior policy analyst focused on mental health and works on CLASP’s (Center for Law and Social Policy) youth team. Watch at https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=1420060828384539
Connectfulness Podcast 010: Mending Racialized Trauma: A Body Centered Approach with Resmaa Menakem
Rebecca is joined by healer, author, and trauma specialist, Resmaa Menakem. Resmaa helps people, communities, and organizations find strength and healing that’s both holistic and resilient. Listen at https://connectfulness.com/episode/010-resmaa-menakem-racialized-trauma
The Deep by Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes
The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society—and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’ rap group Clipping. More info at https://www.riverssolomon.com/thedeep

Updates – June 5, 2020 – George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Botham Jean, Tony McDade, Nina Pop

Names of a dozen victims of police brutality: "GEORGE FLOYD, AHMAUD ARBERY, BREONNA TAYLOR, TAMIR RICE, TRAYVON MARTIN, SANDRA BLAND, PHILANDO CASTILE, ERIC GARNER, FREDDIE GRAY, BOTHAM JEAN, TONY MCDADE, NINA POP"

Message from Sylvia Spears

This past week has been deeply challenging for me, my family, my communities of color, and for feeling people all over the globe. I am so weary. I have spent the past 25 years working to create more diverse, equitable, and socially just communities at colleges and universities. Yet, I can’t find real evidence of fundamental transformative change in education or in our society. As a result, this moment represents not only a crisis of consciousness for many but also existential crisis for me on so many levels.

I do find some comfort in the emails and social media contacts I have received unexpectedly from current and former students—some from Emerson, some from Dartmouth College, and even some from the University of Rhode Island. While I continue to question the meaning of my work in light of everything that is occurring, these students tell me that it has not been in vain.

They give me life, joy, and a reason to carry on.

— Sylvia

Title IX in black lettering on blue background

Implementation of New Department of Education Regulations

As many of you are aware, the Department of Education recently published new Title IX regulations. Emerson, along with other colleges and universities across the country, is required to bring its  policies and processes for the handling of reports of specific types of power-based interpersonal violence into compliance with these new regulations by August 14.

You may recall that the Presidential Working Group (PWG) recently published its draft report and recommended the establishment of a Standing Committee to facilitate communication and coordination of the College’s response to reports of power-based interpersonal violence and to assume responsibility for addressing recent changes to the Department of Education Title IX regulations. Due to the Department of Education’s deadline of August 14, for colleges and universities to come into compliance with new regulations, President Pelton and other senior leaders of the College have approved the immediate establishment of an ad hoc Steering Committee and relevant Sub-Committees to advance the work necessary to revise policies, establish new processes, and develop new trainings on Title IX specific to the new regulations. As such, Pam White, Associate Vice President & Title IX and Clery Act Coordinator, and I are convening a Steering Committee and corresponding Sub-Committees to assist us in advancing the necessary work to bring the College into compliance with these new regulations.

The Steering Committee and Sub-Committees members include students, union representation from both staff and faculty, academic deans, staff in areas of the College responsible for aspects of implementation of process changes as well as members of the College’s senior leadership team. These committees will focus very narrowly on implementing the new Department of Education Title IX regulations into the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. This work does not replace the work that is ongoing on the part of the Presidential Working Group, whose focus extended beyond the new regulations but was limited to the student ecosystem of sexual misconduct.

The Presidential Working Group

As many of you are aware, the Presidential Working Group (PWG) recently published its draft report, which includes their findings and recommendations. It is without question that the members of the PWG who participated in this academic year long endeavor did so out of a commitment to Emerson students and to the College. When the PWG launched, I shared with the Berkeley Beacon that the group was taking on an important and herculean task.

The PWG has opened a comment period on their draft report that closes today, June 5. As Vice President for Equity & Social Justice and supervisor for Title IX Access & Equity and the Healing & Advocacy Collective, I have thoughtfully considered the findings and recommendations of the PWG. I have drafted comments that I hope will provide some additional insights and context for this important body of work. Consistent with the public nature of the draft report from the Presidential Working Group, I will also make my comments on the report, as well as the comments submitted by Title IX Access & Equity and the Healing & Advocacy Collective, accessible to the Emerson Community. You can find these comments at: https://bit.ly/sjcresponses2020

In Solidarity

If you are currently looking for ways to engage in solidarity, we encourage you to use the many resources that people have already created explaining white supremacy, structural violence, and how to build an anti-racist practice. We ask that you begin to do your own work  to deepen your understanding in lieu of asking individuals and communities of color to do more labor to facilitate your learning or to give you guidance about what to do.

You can find some of these resources compiled at https:/linktr.ee/sjc, as well as watch the SJC LIVE videos on anti-racist practice and power, violence, and institutional betrayals at www.facebook.com/SocialJusticeCtr/videos or read the transcripts at https://bit.ly/sjclivetranscripts. In addition, we are regularly sharing information, links, and art reflecting the brilliance of our communities on Facebook (facebook.com/SocialJusticeCtr) and Instagram (instagram.com/socialjusticectr).
Emerson College
(617) 824-8528

 

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 – 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.