As an institution, we are guided by our Catholic and Benedictine mission and identity in which all human life is valued and all are worthy of the same dignity and respect. With this in mind, we have spoken with a collective voice in naming racism a social evil and embracing productive efforts to engage in positive change.

In this critical moment, we must move beyond fear and prejudice and move forward through empathy and action. In answer to this call, Anselmians from across campus came together earlier this year to discuss what we as individuals and as a college can do to advance an anti-racism agenda, and the Anselmian Network for Racial Justice was formed.

The Anselmian Network of Racial Justice, comprised of five subgroups, is a collective effort that started with a network of 40 faculty and staff and continues to grow. In the following pages, we share information on each subgroup, along with what they have accomplished, and their plans for the future. We are so fortunate to have the Anselmian Network for Racial Justice working to lead civil discourse and community-wide action by encouraging an open and honest conversation on the subject of systemic inequity.

To be clear, I have a deep respect and appreciation for members of the law enforcement community, who in the heat of this social movement are often painted unfairly with broad and negative strokes. We have a responsibility to understand the many dimensions engendered when the sensitive topic of race in America is discussed, and we must approach our discourse with open minds and hearts to better understand all aspects of our world, and all perspectives within our community.

At the same time, our Catholic tradition’s commitment to social justice helps us understand the need to speak out about oppression. As Anselmians, we are called to humility and hospitality, compassion and community. May we live these Benedictine values and recommit ourselves to seeing the world through the eyes of those who experience racial injustice and to responding with action.

 

Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D.

President

Subgroup: Acknowledgement

What is the Acknowledgement subgroup?

The Anselmian Network for Racial Justice’s Working Group on Acknowledgement is assisting the college community in grounding our work within our Catholic and Benedictine identity, which condemns racism. We do this by engaging the treasury of knowledge offered within our Catholic intellectual tradition. This foundation guides our institutional work as we acknowledge the reality and sin of racism in all its forms. The college also will conduct a review of our institutional policies, procedures, and practices to ensure that these policies, procedures, and practices are both just and equitable, as well as part of strengthening a community environment that will not tolerate racism.

 

What has been accomplished so far?

We have worked to communicate with the Anselmian community and beyond about the work of the ANRJ and have assisted in crafting messaging that speaks to an Anselmian response for racial justice. We hosted a prayer gathering in the summer following the wrongful death of George Floyd. We assisted President Favazza in responding to a request for the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities for Catholic colleges throughout our nation to respond with action to racial injustice. We also assisted President Favazza in communicating to the college community, alumni, the Board of Trustees and other constituents regarding the work of the ANRJ, and a statement regarding Black Lives Matter.

 

What do your future plans look like?

We are working to find ways to integrate and stitch the education for, and work of, racial justice throughout the daily life of the college. Rooted in our Catholic and Benedictine identity, we desire for this work to not simply be an add on but to be naturally interwoven into the Anselmian experience both in and out of the classroom.

 

Co-leaders: Ande Diaz, Ph.D., director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, chief diversity officer; Susan Gabert, Ed.D. ’91, assistant dean of students and director of campus ministry

Subgroup: Parenting

What is the Parenting subgroup?

Anselmians Raising Children for Social Justice is a group aimed at bringing community members (e.g., family members, caregivers, mentors, parents) together to discuss ways in which we can nurture, teach, and raise children to be socially conscious and anti-racist members of society. This group discusses the challenges of raising and mentoring children of all ages in a socially conscious way with evolving best practices.

 

What has been accomplished so far?

Our first virtual meeting was aimed at bringing interested Saint Anselm faculty and staff members together to inquire how this group could best serve the needs of the community. Attendees were asked to preview a PBS Kids webinar presentation “Talking to Children Authentically About Race and Racism” to serve as the basis of small group discussions. Additionally, our group has compiled a list of children’s books, ranging from pre-K through grade 12, as well as resources for how to engage children in discussions about social and racial justice.

 

What do your future plans look like?

We are hoping to include our alumni community going forward and to have a consistent working group to exchange ideas, best practices, and the challenges of raising children to understand and participate in social justice. In addition, Saint Anselm students are preparing additional resource guides for children’s books, including recorded read alouds, that could be used by teachers, caregivers, and mentors to support discussions about race and social justice.

 

Co-leaders: Sara Smits Keeney, Ph.D., director of peace and justice studies, associate professor, sociology and social work; Cassandra McCue ’08, associate director of admissions; Aubrey Scheopner Torres, Ph.D., associate professor, education

Subgroup: Curricular

What is the Curricular subgroup?

The Curricular subgroup brings together faculty members, staff, and administrators who are passionate about combating systemic racism and promoting social justice, and who also feel able to serve as a resource to their peers at this critical time. By identifying opportunities and providing tools, we aim to assist faculty members, academic departments, and the college community as a whole as they seek to enrich their curricula, policies, and pedagogical practices with racial and social justice principles. At the same time, we are very cognizant of the excellent Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work that has already been happening at Saint Anselm College for many years. So we have been calibrating our efforts, with the idea of both highlighting the curricula and programs that already exist and creating new opportunities and energy. Of course, in all of this work, a vital motivation for us has been to support our students and colleagues, and to realize the calling of our Anselmian mission.

 

What has been accomplished so far?

Our group has focused on four areas thus far. First, we have developed and shared widely a conceptual framework that is serving as a reflection and planning tool for individual faculty, departments, and academic committees. We know that infusing our regular policies and practices with DEI considerations is crucial for fostering lasting improvements. Second, our group members have created forums for faculty and staff to discuss curricular and climate issues, both at the classroom and departmental levels. In this work, we are partnering with the Fr. Peter Guerin, O.S.B. Center for Teaching Excellence, the Office of the Dean of the College, and others. Third, we have created an updated list of courses that contain significant racial and social justice content. This list is a resource for students and faculty at pre-registration time and beyond. Finally, some of our members will be offering new courses and/or have produced new micro lectures that address issues of structural racism, inequality, and social justice.

 

What do your future plans look like?

The Curricular group has plans to continue this work into the spring semester with additional opportunities for faculty to come together to share resources to enrich their teaching practices with social justice principles. Our group is also working with the Humanities Institute to develop a three-part series for the spring titled “Reimagining Justice” focusing on issues relating to racial justice and the criminal justice system (see below).

 

Co-leaders: Christine Gustafson, Ph.D., associate dean of the college, associate professor, politics; Liana Pennington, J.D., Ph.D., associate professor, criminal justice

Subgroup: Co-Curricular

What is the Co-Curricular subgroup?

The Anselmian Network for Racial Justice’s Co-Curricular subgroup seeks to bring together a diverse coalition of students from across campus in providing anti-racism education and programming for their peers and the Anselmian community. Recognizing the impact peers can have on one another, we are collaborating closely with clubs and organizations on campus to elevate the importance of this racial justice work. Identifying racial injustices on campus and in our greater community, students will work with faculty, staff, and administrators in addressing these issues and working toward creating a truly inclusive and equitable community. Within the co-curricular group are three areas of focus: education, messaging, and advocacy.

 

What has been accomplished so far?

This semester, students have worked on numerous projects, including documentary discussion nights, an anti-racism poster protest, creating social media to share racial justice resources (@AnselmiansForRacialJustice on Instagram) and crafting messaging for the community to come together in working toward justice.

 

What do your future plans look like?

A calendar of discussion nights and documentaries, social media advocacy, book clubs, and panel presentations are being organized by students for the community. A major goal of the group is to plan an Anti-Racism Teach-In Day on campus. This event would be time for students and community members to learn from local activists, learning more about social movements, dive into anti-racism resources, join dialogue groups and actively work to unlearn biases and prejudices. Additionally, the co-curricular group is focused on centering, lifting and celebrating student voices on campus. Through continuing to be vocal about racial injustice, we are working toward normalizing the conversation around race and bringing awareness and light to topics that may have been shied away from in the past.

 

Co-leaders: Wayne Currie, director, The Father Jonathan, O.S.B., Center for Intercultural Learning and Inclusion; Kathryn O’Loughlin ’10, assistant director of campus ministry

Subgroup: Dialogue

What is the Dialogue subgroup?

The dialogue subgroup is working with faculty, staff, and students to organize and implement a campus-wide dialogue initiative focused on race. The initiative has been designed with our unique community needs in mind and has been a collective effort. The initiative provides opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to meet in peer-led intra- and interracial dialogue groups as avenue to collectively address racism in our community and our institutions. Affinity (intraracial) groups provide an opportunity for participants to learn about and explore their racial experiences and understanding of race and racism with individuals from similar backgrounds. These smaller affinity groups will be structured around each racial group’s unique needs and experiences, while allowing opportunities for interracial dialogue. There will be opportunities for participants to attend interracial dialogues as part of this process and other interracial groups throughout the academic year.

 

What has been accomplished so far?

Currently, trained faculty, staff, and students have been facilitating weekly intraracial groups (also referred to as affinity groups) and they also came together for a larger interracial conversation. We have four groups currently meeting: faculty and staff of color, students of color, white faculty and staff, and white students. We also prepared and planned for groups during the winter session. Since the winter session is shorter than the fall, the programming was adapted to fit the timeline. Participants committed to five weeks of virtual groups that were 1 hour and 30 minutes long. The majority of the group time was spent in racial affinity groups with the opportunity for interracial conversations during the spring semester and potentially over the winter term.

 

What do your future plans look like?

We will continue to work on this initiative throughout the academic year and beyond. We anticipate that our community needs and the types of dialogues may change. We will work together to continue to adapt the program in response to the changing needs of our community.

 

Co-leaders: Wayne Currie, director, The Father Jonathan, O.S.B., Center for Intercultural Learning and Inclusion; Nicole Lora ’06, director, Meelia Center for Community Engagement

 

Reimagining Justice

The Gregory J. Grappone Humanities Institute is pleased to join with The Anselmian Network for Racial Justice, The Saint Anselm Criminal Justice Department, and the Saint Anselm Office of Alumni Relations to host a series of three webinars during the spring semester. Each webinar will invite participants to consider current issues surrounding policing and the justice system in light of core Anselmian values such as engagement with the community, the pursuit of justice in all forms, and the fostering of human understanding.

 

FEBRUARY:

First Encounters: Police Stops and Race

 

MARCH:

Keeping Watch: Surveillance and Race

 

APRIL:

New Directions in Policing: Responding to Community Needs

 

All three webinars will be free and open to the public. Dates and times to be announced. For more information contact Gary Bouchard, executive director of the Gregory J. Grappone Humanities Institute, gbouchard@anselm.edu.