Fight for Racial Equity

UMass Boston CORE members played equality and diversity games.
December 20, 2019

By Dan LaBonte, PSU member, and Mary Jo Connelly, PSU Boston organizer

On both the Amherst and Boston campuses, PSU’s Committee on Racial Equity (CORE) has been working to build the capacity of our union to address racial discrimination and inequality using contract language, research, and education.

Amherst’s chapter is still relatively new and continuing to grow. Notable achievements since it began two years ago include being awarded a campus climate grant to implement two cohorts of a book club centering discussions around Ijeoma Oluo’s seminal work So You Want to Talk About Race, and collaborating with the UMass Amherst Police Department to modify terminology and protocols in an effort to reduce bias in community reporting.  

In September, at its first meeting of the semester, the group decided to clarify the way it engages with the CORE mission, hoping this year to introduce racial justice into contract bargaining, determine strategic and effective uses for PSU employee equal opportunity (EEO) data, and build on-campus coalitions. During this meeting, Graduate Student Senate (GSS) President Justin Burch also shared initial progress on GSS’s goal to collaborate with the administration on the development of sustainable racial justice practices. GSS is calling for proactive and comprehensive campus wide diversity-equity-inclusion education, clear and concise university communications, coherent and reparative community responses, and intentional and actionable campus campaigns.  

Boston’s chapter eagerly engaged new activists through its October 9 fall kick-off. The event included a diversity and equality dominos game as well as hearing selections from Walking in Our Shoes: Readings from the CORE Stories Project, which highlights various PSU members’ experiences with racism in the workplace.

Knowing the challenges for staff of color to find support and encouragement at Boston, the chapter chose for its first book club selection Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead. In the coming year, the group will continue to prioritize visibility, both expanding member engagement with CORE and ensuring that PSU staff know and see CORE as a resource. In addition, Boston CORE will be collaborating with the PSU bargaining team to develop racial justice and equity contract proposals. Those efforts will be led by Boston CORE leader, Ade Igbineweka, who has been elected to the bargaining team. The group also looks forward to working more closely with the grievance committee to better understand and address instances of racism with regard to PSU members.  

Join the Movement

Amherst CORE meets monthly in the Campus Center. Boston’s CORE meets every 3rd Wednesday from 12 to 1 p.m. in the Union Conference Room (Quinn 02/081). The next meeting is December 18.

If you are interested in learning more or joining CORE, contact

Amherst

Dan LaBonte dlabonte@umass.edu
Erika Dawson-Head erikahead@cs.umass.edu

Boston

Mary Jo Connelly maryjoconnellypsu@gmail.com