It’s no secret that Springfield College attempts to have diversity and inclusion for everyone on its campus. However, many have felt and voiced their opinion that this is simply not the case. As Vice President for Inclusion and Community Engagement Dr. Calvin Hill stated in his email alongside President Mary-Beth Cooper, “It is past time for us to act, but act we must.”
Following that sentiment, the new Campus Program Planning Committee on Race was established with Dr. Hill heading it up. Though there are 17 initiatives outlined in detail in the aforementioned email, Hill stated that CPPCR’s overarching initiative was to make the campus a better place for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students.
“We understand that students that are exposed to diversity, students that speak about it and hear about it, both the majority students as well as BIPOC students alike, are going to be more likely to live in an inclusive and welcoming community, because these are things they are processing and thinking about.
“My hope, as a committee, we’re going to be able to introduce the community to areas we know that we need to be having a conversation on, areas of our country we know we need to be having a conversation on, and we can’t shy away from those difficult conversations. If we want our students to be better, if we want our students to understand the value of diversity and inclusion, it can’t be something that we don’t speak about,” added Hill.
The committee, born in the timeline of BLM, recognizes that in the admission of students to Springfield College from a diverse array of backgrounds, there is also an admission for the potential of dissent among groups.
“We’re bringing students in, from New England primarily, that have not had an opportunity because of their segregated communities to interact in dialogue cross-culturally,” stated Hill.
“The reality for us is that when you bring people in from diverse backgrounds (socio-economically, spiritually, orientation-wise) tension is going to happen. So, what we want to talk about is how we engage, how we deal with tensions, understanding that tension is inevitable.”
Hill went on to explain that the committee also hopes to explore options within the classroom in forms of seminars and even an “Anti-Racism Class”. He believes that if students are exposed to issues that concern diversity and inclusion educationally, they are more apt to create that type of community around themselves.
CPPCR will also be working in tandem with the initiatives brought forth in 2017 by the Division for Inclusion and Community Engagement in regard to retention and admission rates of BIPOC.
Hill said that because of the nationwide involvement over the past few months concerning the Black Lives Matter movement, more people are going to be interested in helping. This will prove to be helpful in furthering the Campus Inclusion Plan from 2017 that has since lost its momentum.
“When I came to campus in 2015, I think it was during a time period where people were really excited, people were excited that this new position was here,” said Hill.
“But then, we start to see kind of a lull, a lot of the programs and a lot of the things that I had put on, they had had a lot of attendance and then we see the attendance kind of slow until it became kind of normal that we were doing these things. But now, you know the attention is going to be back focused.”
The Campus Program Planning Committee on Race is yet another step Springfield College has taken in the right direction on the road to anti-racism. As always, there is more work to be done, but the programs and conversations that will ensue because of CPPCR will be an invaluable experience for the community.
Photo of Vice President of Inclusion & Community Engagement Calvin Hill is courtesy of Springfield College. Dr. Hill is one of the leading forces behind the creation and implementation of the CPPCR.