Tag Archives: updates

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.

******
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.

******
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.
******
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.

******

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 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