Racial Justice at Bentley and the Work Ahead
A message from Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Katie Lampley '96
Dear Bentley Community,
For almost 30 years, I’ve been proud to be part of the Bentley community and have been encouraged by how we’ve grown since my days as an undergraduate student. From my early days on campus championing diversity initiatives to now serving as the university’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer, I’ve seen so much positive change within our community and am looking forward to continuing the difficult work that we still need to do on the road ahead.
February is Black History Month, a time to observe and celebrate the important contributions and rich traditions of people representing the African diaspora. Months like these, such as Hispanic Heritage month which spans September and October, and Asian American and Pacific Islander month in May, provide an important opportunity for reflection, not just celebration. A chance to assess the state of our commitment to our stated value of diversity more broadly, and more specifically, our effort to be a more anti-racist community.
So many of you have taken action over the last eight months in response to the national Black Lives Matter Movement and to the campus-focused Black at Bentley activism. The conversations about race and racism on campus have shifted in important ways moving us closer to ensuring that Bentley is a place that promotes racial justice, equity and inclusion for all. We cannot lose the momentum that has propelled this time in our history. That’s why I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the work that has been done so far as a way to encourage us all to continue to move forward towards our goal of becoming more actively anti-racist as a community.
Strategic Initiatives for Racial Justice
Organizational change requires ground-up and top-down action. Over the summer, the Cabinet shared a set of strategic initiatives to jump-start Bentley’s next steps on racial justice. From developing new inclusive strategies for the classroom and workplace to analyzing the diversity of offices and suppliers across campus, the initiatives included action-items from every division of the university.
As important work continues in these areas, I’m pleased to share that many of these initial initiatives have been completed or updated, and I invite you to view the progress here. The work of creating a just and equitable university rests not with a few members of our university, but instead touches every division, club or organization and team. These initiatives were just the beginning but represent a university-wide commitment to this effort. As new Cabinet-level updates are made, I’ll be sure to share them with the community.
Racial Justice Task Force
Throughout the fall and into the spring, the Racial Justice Task Force and its 114 volunteers have been engaged in a collective change process to uncover the systemic ways that race and racism operate in our community. Since convening the task force, we’ve focused on identifying and recommending changes to address systemic racial barriers to access, opportunity, treatment and advancement of students, faculty and staff. This journey of discovery has included restorative experiences to heal from racial trauma, learning opportunities to build our capacity for the work, and listening sessions to uncover cultural barriers to progress.
Bentley's Racial Justice Task Force
The Task Force is currently working to compile what we have learned through this process and look forward to sharing our discoveries and suggestions for next steps. In addition to these findings, we will also be sharing resources for departments, organizations and offices to continue this examination of our culture, practices and policies. The impact of this task force goes beyond this final product, but can also be seen in the ways members of the group have been influenced by this process and taken what they have learned and implemented it in their individual areas of influence. Our goal as a group is to inspire all in the community to take up this charge and to continue to amplify the commitment at Bentley.
Black at Bentley Commitments
This summer, a group of courageous alumni worked together to create an Instagram account called Black at Bentley, where students and alumni described how they’d encountered racism and discrimination on campus. The creation of this space and the stories shared in it opened the eyes of many on this campus to the reality of the experiences of community members of color. The group also solicited recommendations from the community and shared their list with the university. In the fall, the Cabinet met with the organizers of this group and responded publicly to offer commitments to actively make Bentley a better, more equitable university (you can review the Cabinet’s response here). As Bentley works to respond to these requests, Cabinet members have opened space to engage with alumni around some of the key areas identified in the letter.
We are grateful for the activism of our alumni and students, as it demonstrates the passion we all have for creating a stronger, more united Bentley. We were honored to have the three alumnae founders of the Black at Bentley account join us for this year’s MLK Celebration, where the university honored Black at Bentley with the Dr. Earl L. Avery MLK Leadership Award – the first time the award was presented to a movement and not a person.
Founders of Black at Bentley Instagram Honored at MLK Event
I know that we as a university have much more to do when it comes to racial equity and inclusion. You have demonstrated that as a community, we are committed to engaging in the challenging work required to move from talk to action. As a graduate of Bentley, longtime staff member and now a member of the Cabinet, I’m proud of the direction we’re headed and look forward to all we will do together to make Bentley a more just and equitable community.
Katie Lampley ’96
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer