Community Equity Action Plan reports updates from faculty, advisory group


Courtesy of @ec_power Instagram

One of the graphics POWER used to promote #ESOCWeekofAction in November.

By Ann E. Matica

Emerson released an update on its Community Equity Action Plan Tuesday afternoon, outlining progress on the list of demands that were brought forward during the #ESOCWeekofAction in the fall 2020 semester.

The updates include alterations to the faculty handbook, meetings with student organizations to discuss operations, and an updated website to track the college’s progress on each demand. 

The Presidential Advisory Group for Community and Equity met with the Vice President for Equity and Social Justice Sylvia Spears in March to discuss the ESOC Community Town Hall on Race, the email said. The Town Hall will take place on April 16, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

A subgroup of the Presidential Advisory Group also met in March to select consultants outside the college who will evaluate the “systemic barriers that prevent BIPOC students from experiencing a sense of belonging and full participation at Emerson.” A draft “Request for Proposals” is currently being created by Spears and will be shared with the President’s Council before it is posted on the college’s website.

On March 23, the Faculty Assembly approved alterations to the Faculty Handbook that includes new language around “invisibilized or unseen work” from BIPOC faculty members, proposed by the Educational Equity and Justice Committee of Faculty Assembly and the Academic Cabinet. This effort was launched prior to the #ESOCWeekofAction, according to the email.

Director for Faculty Development and Diversity Tuesda Roberts moderated a meeting between members of the Student Government Association, other students, and the Academic Cabinet on March 26. The discussion touched on student concerns around specific academic departments and the Marlboro Institute of Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies.

The email also addressed one of the two social contracts developed by POWER—one for white students and one for student organizations. The Student Engagement and Leadership office, along with other departments, met with student-led organizations ranging from Fraternity and Sorority Life to Advocacy groups to discuss student recruitment, selection of executive board members, and other sectors of student organizations.    

November’s #ESOCWeekofAction initiative, led by the student organization POWER, called for administration to take accountability for what they termed a culture of complicity and administrative failures to support students of color. The college last released a Community Equity Action Plan update on March 3, addressing the progress administration and faculty made in regards to the 31 demands and two social contracts drafted by students.

In sharing this update, we also take a moment to recognize the ongoing pain many are feeling in response to recurring violence and oppression, including the recent shootings in Atlanta and Boulder,” the email read. “We recognize that the systems and structures within an institution will never serve as a salve, but we are committed to moving the College forward toward becoming a place where everyone in our community can find community, respite and relief.”

Along with updates regarding the Presidential Advisory Group—which consists of more than 60 members of the Emerson community—faculty initiatives, and one of the proposed social contracts, the college launched a new section of its website with information on the status of the college’s progress on the rest of the 28 demands the college is addressing in 12 areas of focus. The email said the website will be updated regularly.