By Neve Levinson ’21 and Jake Pellett ’24
Since its founding over fifty years ago, Goucher’s Black Student Union (GBSU) has published lists of demands necessary for combating anti-Black racism in Goucher’s community. Current GBSU members released their most recent list of demands to their Medium page in June. While it has been updated since then, the demands serve as a clear and present outline of what changes are necessary for us to dismantle white supremacy within our institution.
Accompanying the demands, the GBSU has committed to hosting a series of teach-ins entitled “Goucher is still Lily-White” to further explore the need for, and background behind, many of the demands.
As both a white first-year student who had not previously known of these demands, nor how to navigate allyship at Goucher, and a white senior who has tracked their growth in college in relation to this movement, these teach-ins have been incredibly informative. The first teach-in began with a small-group activity involving both exchanging introductions and reviewing the Administration’ section of the demands list. From the perspective of a first-year, I had many terms (such as the Race, Power, and Perspective requirement) and unique Goucher historical events (prior hate crimes committed on campus) explained to me for the first time. Following this brief discussion, the GBSU led a presentation highlighting the necessity of each stated demand, again drawing on key events that have transpired in recent Goucher history. To conclude, a Q&A session allowed participants to ask clarifying questions regarding (but certainly not limited to) the provided demands.
Throughout the teach-in, it was revealed that the GBSU had extended requests to discuss these demands with President Devereaux, though it is unclear if any lengthy or notably significant conversation has yet transpired.
The second teach-in centered on the Education demands laid out by the GBSU. Movements members have focused on each year of the undergraduate experience, choosing to highlight existing gaps in the still-being-built Goucher Commons curriculum, offering their time and expertise as they have experienced these gaps firsthand.
The main theme throughout this section of the demands list centers on the Race, Power, and Perspective requirements laid out by the GCRs. GBSU members are calling on the general administration (that is, staff members in the President’s Cabinet who have decision-making power on curricular issues) to make the program more comprehensive. By recommending that we fold in the required first-year reading into the first year WRT 181 course, Black students are asking for more integration of thought and deep learning about systemic racism and white supremacy into every facet of our undergraduate education. The third teach-in focused on the two demands related to the Hallowed Ground Project. The first demand calls out white virtue signalling, reframing how we anti-Blackness on campus. The second demand centers around building traditions to celebrate the successes of Black people both on and off campus.
The demands list details ways to expand the RPP requirement generally, giving specific guidance on how to challenge students studying abroad to recognize and name systemic oppression outside of a United States-centric worldview. In doing so, GBSU is offering a vital roadmap for how to mobilize ourselves to truly pursue justice. The Quindecim firmly supports GBSU and these demands. We look forward to the the third installment of this series. We will keep you updated with when it is happening. See you there.