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Rougeau to Direct Forum on Racial Justice

Boston College announces four-pronged initiative to bring people together to discuss racism and racist behavior.


On June 10, Boston College sent a letter to the community announcing a four-part plan to address issues related to racism and racist behavior in the US and beyond in 2020. Part one of the initiative is the establishment of The Boston College Forum on Racial Justice in America, under the inaugural directorship of BC Law School Dean Vincent Rougeau, who will work closely with the President William P. Leahy, SJ, and senior leadership as well as a national board of advisors.

The Forum will have two key purposes: 1) provide a meeting place for listening, dialogue, and greater understanding about race and racism in our country, especially ideas for dealing with current challenges and planning for a better future; and 2) serve as a catalyst for bridging differences regarding race in America, promoting reconciliation, and encouraging fresh perspectives.

The Boston College Forum on Racial Justice in America will begin by hearing from the victims of racism. It will invite individuals to speak about their experiences of racism, police misconduct, job and housing discrimination, healthcare inequities, and wealth disparity to recognize these realities, honor the dignity of those who have suffered from them, and help increase empathy and understanding.

The Forum will also ask community and religious leaders, government officials, and members of law enforcement to comment on their efforts to foster community building and public safety in support of the common good. Participants will be offered the opportunity to describe their hopes and dreams for the future.

Further, the Forum will sponsor speakers, panels, and seminars about key issues regarding race and needed changes in attitudes and structures. It will also encourage scholarly exploration of conditions that result in racism and racist behavior, and suggest responses and solutions.

Second, the Division of University Mission and Ministry at Boston College will offer a series of multi-faith services to pray for healing and reconciliation in our local community and nation, and implore God’s help in surmounting the sins and effects of racism, injustice, and violence. BC Campus Ministry will seek to establish partnerships with faith communities in the Boston area for dialogue and neighborhood service activities, and it will initiate efforts to enable elementary and high school students to discuss experiences and beliefs concerning race, community, justice, and the future with undergraduates at Boston College. Intercollegiate athletes at BC will also reach out in new ways to youth in metropolitan Boston to build bonds and provide mentorship through sports and academics.

Third, Boston College will strive through its recently announced integration with Pine Manor College and related establishment of the Pine Manor Institute for Student Success to recruit and graduate more underrepresented, first-generation students.  This Institute will build on the successes of Pine Manor College in helping students facing major challenges in their pursuit of higher education obtain college degrees, and it will work closely with existing academic outreach programs at BC. Boston College has designated $50 million of its endowment to support activities of the Pine Manor Institute, and it intends to seek additional funds from various sources.

Finally, Boston College will keep working to be true to its mission and values as a Jesuit, Catholic institution of higher education.  It will continue emphasizing the importance of the liberal arts and sciences as well as core curriculum courses because they help students engage central issues and ideas, develop skills in analysis and critical thinking, and become more whole, more human, and more free from ignorance and prejudice.  These commitments urge Boston College to work for racial justice and to create opportunities across the curriculum for students and faculty to engage in the scholarly exploration of race through a range of disciplinary perspectives.

In addition, Boston College will maintain its current commitment to need-blind admission and to meeting the full-demonstrated need of all accepted undergraduate students.  Doing so has enabled many underrepresented and underserved students to earn degrees at “the Heights.” The University also will continue strategic investments in such programs as the Thea Bowman AHANA Intercultural Center, Options through Education, Learning to Learn, and the Monserrat Coalition, which have helped numerous students thrive academically and personally, as evidenced by the 96 percent graduation rate for the most recent cohort of Pell-eligible students. Boston College has also accepted an invitation to join QuestBridge, a highly respected program involving 42 of the nation’s best colleges and universities that helps thousands of talented and high-financial need students apply and gain admission to its partner schools.