SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield College student leaders along with their Office of Inclusion and Community Engagement, held a Black Lives Matter march to support anti-racist efforts on campus Thursday afternoon.
“We at Springfield College do have our own problems throughout this campus in terms of being an all inclusive environment,” Springfield College junior and march organizer, Luther Wade told 22News.
Dozens of Springfield College students marched in the student-organized event on Thursday. Those who participated in the march wore masks and socially distanced from others. Students also split into two groups on separate sidewalks so that they could march more spread out.
“The message here is that we stand in that our Springfield community is awakening and going to stand behind us,” Wade continued.
Earlier in the semester the Springfield College Leadership Team worked with student groups, Men of Excellence, Women of Power, Student Society for Bridging Diversity, and the newly created Black Student Union, to discuss actions that they prioritize to demonstrate progress towards improving the campus climate for Black, Indigenous and people of color.
“[We want to] create a more inclusive environment, less use of microaggressions, and understanding lived experiences,” Wade said.
The march was to support anti-racist efforts and included a list of six demands that the leadership of student groups presented to the college’s president, Mary-Beth Cooper, and the Vice President of Inclusion and Community Engagement on September 21st.
On September 23rd, members of the President’s Leadership Team and faculty senate met with the student groups with agreements to the six demands.
The list of demands and agreements are as follows:
- Demand: One credit anti-Black racism course
- Action: The faculty will develop a course for credit that will be offered as an elective in spring semester.
- Demand: Develop a explicit no tolerance policy around hate speech.
- Action: Share widely the Bias Incident Policy and make clear to the community that we take such behavior seriously while defining hate speech in the contact in which it occurs.
- Demand: Hire a Black counselor in the Counseling Center who is trained in race-based trauma.
- Action: A position description has been developed and job posting has been made.
- Demand: Increased funding for the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
- Action: On September 23rd, the school has created a Multicultural Programming Fund with $50,000.
- Demand: Honor the students from building takeovers in 1969 and 1970.
- Action: They will have a resolution by the end of the academic year.
- Demand: Bring in a high profile speaker for the SEAT at the Table.
- Action: Heshima Moja will be presenting at SEAT, and other speakers that focus on diversity and inclusion are being explored for conversations.
For the march the students were only allowed to have 50 participants due to COVID-19 concerns, but there were hundreds of students on the campus triangle for a support rally with speakers voicing their concerns.
“If it were not for young people coming together, having engagement, we would not see the level of social change that this country is currently seeing,” VP of Inclusion and Communication at Springfield College, Calvin Hill told 22News.
The march began at President Mary-Beth Cooper’s house on Alden Street, went up the sidewalk along Alden Street to Wilbraham Ave, took a left on the sidewalk towards Hickory Street, came back around through the campus, and ended at the triangle across from the Learning Commons near Alden Street.