The College of Wooster will halt operations Friday, June 19, 2020, in observance of Juneteenth. President Bolton sent the following letter Monday, June 15 to campus urging a day of rest of Black colleagues and a day of learning and reflection for others.
I write at a time where many in our community are experiencing overwhelming trauma, grief and exhaustion from relentless anti-Black violence, most recently in the killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, a city that so many of our students call home. This loss affects all of us, but weighs particularly heavily on the Black members of our community, who experience the harm of racism throughout their daily lives, including on our campus. No one should have to carry that burden of injustice. We have crucial work to do to make this country, and our College, a better place.
That work needs to be a priority, and we need to create the time, space, and resources to focus on it. We will make a step towards doing that this week. This Friday is June 19th. June 19th is celebrated as Juneteenth in many communities, and honors the day that news of the emancipation proclamation came to Texas, on June 19th, 1865, bringing word that “all slaves are free.”
As a small step to help us move forward, I have decided that the College will have a paid day away from work for all employees this Friday, June 19th, 2020. I ask that all work and meetings planned for that day be cancelled if possible. (Essential employees who have to work will be paid holiday pay.)
For our Black colleagues, I hope that this day will provide some opportunity for rest. For others, I hope you also enjoy the pause of the day away from the intensity of regular campus activities, but I also ask that you take some time on your own that day to learn more about racism and to consider and commit to ways to address it through your day-to-day actions, your work at Wooster, and your engagement with all members of the College and local community. Our cabinet leadership team will be doing this as well, together. Here are some free resources to watch, read and discuss. I hope that everyone will choose at least two to watch/read on Friday, and to discuss with colleagues next week.
- How To Overcome Our Biases: Walk Boldly Toward Them, Vernā Myers TED Talk, November 2014
- National Forum on Demonstrating Care for Black Employees, USC Race and Equity Center
- Conversations on racism in the Wooster community: Video “Reparations: An American Dilemma” by Desi LaPoole, ’20. Interviews with Wooster citizens start at 10 minutes in. “There Needs to Be Change” article in the Daily Record, June 9th, 2020.
- Many resources on confronting racism in colleges and universities and on support and self-care for those targeted by racism have been pulled together through #shutdownacademia , a group of faculty across the country working to address anti-Black racism
- How Studying Privilege Systems Can Strengthen Compassion, Peggy McIntosh TED Talk, October 2012
- The Urgency of Intersectionality, Kimberlé Crenshaw TED Talk, November 2016
- Guide to Allyship, an evolving open-source guide to help you become a more thoughtful and effective ally organized by Amélie Lamont
By informing ourselves, looking honestly at the places we need to be better, standing in solidarity with those who are harmed, and working together, we can move The College of Wooster forward to become the community we seek – one that is actively anti-racist, equitable and just. Thank you for engaging in that work, together.